I think I have finally worked out why people like running. It’s all about what experts refer to as an “endorphin rush”. According to Wikipedia endorphins are “endogenous opioid neuropeptides. They are produced by the central nervous system and pituitary gland. The term implies a pharmacological activity (analogous to the activity of the corticosteroid category of biochemicals) as opposed to a specific chemical formulation.” I hope I have made that clear for you because it’s as clear as mud to me.
Apparently, endorphins trigger “a positive feeling in the body” which doesn’t quite explain to me why so many runners, or joggers as I prefer to call them for wind-up purposes, look so miserable. There must be something incredibly enjoyable and satisfying about it otherwise people wouldn’t do it, would they? At almost any time of the day I can walk around our village and there is some wheezing, sweating individual with a hangdog expression, listening to music on their iPods. Now the iPod bit I find interesting. If it was really that much fun, why would anyone feel the need to listen to music other than to take their mind off such a ghastly activity? I often play music when I am carrying dull but necessary activities like cleaning the toilet or cutting the grass
I note also that endorphins are also very active during sex. “Endorphins released during sexual intercourse and orgasms are natural mood-boosters and stress relievers”, says one website. This sounds far more fun than traipsing along the road for hours on end.
I do get the fitness stuff though. Most runners are in far better shape than I am – I make do with things like golf and walking to the pub – although let’s check their knees and ankles in a few years time after they have been pounding the streets and pavements.
Marathons and 10ks are huge these days and many people raise millions for charities in so doing. If you are not going to win a marathon or 10k – and most runners never win a race in their lives (something else I don’t understand because I have never participated in a sport, apart from golf, where I did not want to win) – then why not do it for a good cause?
Even in the days when I was fit enough to play active sports, I always hated running. I could run all over the football pitch but it was for a purpose. Running for the sake of it left me cold. That said, I still do not understand how anyone can run 10k without stopping at least once and 26 miles – I get tired driving that far these days! This is particularly impressive with the over 40s (and 50s) who take up running later in life. I am told that running is not just a mid life crisis but it’s also a drug, you get hooked on these endorphins. When I am about to collapse onto the couch for an evening of brainless TV watching, thousands are getting into their skimpy shorts and vests to pound the mean streets. As I am pouring my glass of wine, I suspect I know who is likely to live longer.
I jest of course. No one went out running for leisure, pleasure or purely for fitness when I was a kid and now everyone, apart from me, does. And I’ll bet they all enjoy those endorphins to the full! Bloody good luck to them, I say.