Running improves your learning and concentration. You get fit and lose weight, and your whole life seems to run more smoothly and effortlessly. The positives are countless; however, based on personal experience, I maintain that running can also make you stupid.
Consider this: My ankle has been hurting for months, and it usually becomes worse during a run. Do I take a break? Do I see a doctor? Nope. I run some more – and after each training session, I soak my feet in ice water and wait for a miracle.
I doubt that I’m the only one.
Do you feel a sharp pain in your knee or stiffness in one of your buttocks? Is your plantar fasciitis acting up? Is your nose running a little? What do you do? You go running, because you think that “it will sort itself out” or that you will have time to rest if you actually become ill.
Besides, you can always take an ample dose of zinc pills, wear compression gear from head to toe and hone your Kinesio taping skills. Many runners are willing to try practically anything to ensure that they don’t miss a single training session.
And if they eventually have no option but to see a doctor, it gets even worse.
The doctor orders them to take a three-month break, but runners simply cannot help themselves: after forcing themselves to rest for a couple of weeks, they just have to try out whether they can start training again.
At that point, the exercise bike has already cracked under pressure and the overzealous runner has been banned from the local aqua jogging pool.
Striking a balance between work and life becomes more difficult when you need to fit running into the equation. In a triangle between your partner, children and work, it’s complicated to find time for running. You feel a little tense, and a few hours of extra sleep sounds like a good idea. But you simply cannot rest, as you cannot bear the thought of losing all those evening, night and early morning hours. Who says you can’t do interval runs in the moonlight?
Marathons seem to make us lose what little sense we have left.
Our toenails fall off after the finishing line, and our nipples bleed from chafing – or from ripping off our nipple protectors. We burst into tears if we didn’t manage to improve our time, and we cry even more if we did. Taking a shower after the race is sheer pain: the water reveals that we have chafing in places that we weren’t even aware of.
And it doesn’t stop there: if you are escorted to a first aid station, provided that you are still fully conscious, do you accept that everything may not be alright?
Of course not. You are angry because you are painfully aware that the timer is still running, and you try escape back to the race.
During a marathon, a runner remembers all the reasons why they were never going to run another marathon – and decides to never run a marathon again.
Will their decision stand? Of course not.
And this is exactly why running is so damn wonderful.