Run Forest Run

DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Do something for you. The world we live in and the pressures we all face can be daunting at times. Don't you wish you could escape it every now and then and go somewhere special? A place you could think straight, feel better, and actually improve your livelihood? I found such a place in running and you could too. Sounds a bit far-fetched, but some of you, those lucky few who dare to get off the couch, lace up your shoes, and put one foot in front of the other...you know what I'm saying is true.

Running is for all ages. A six-year-young girl named Keelan Glass--hailing from our own Abilene, Texas--just became the youngest person to ever compete in a half-marathon. Her time of 2:46.31 set a record! Or consider Fauja Singh, who said, "When I took up running, it was like meeting God himself. I have been running ever since." He raced a marathon at age 100 and still runs now at 102. If they can do it, so can you!

But here's what I mean by that. The true beauty of the sport is that runners measure how well they do against their individual personal best or goals, not someone else's. The term "PR" is used to describe someone's "personal record," as in she "PR'd" today, meaning she ran her best time ever today. We can all be excited for her accomplishment even if her time may be slower than someone else's time. In the running world, what matters is that you set goals and work hard to improve yourself. Unless you are truly a world class athlete, there will ALWAYS be someone faster than you. In this way, runners of all ages and abilities can rejoice with one another when someone "PRs." I love that about running.

For me, running is also a great stress reliever and a place I can go to think. Sometimes I take my most difficult problems with me out on the road or on the track. Amazingly, what seemed difficult sitting in the office or at home, always comes into clear focus for me when I run. According to Scientific American, "a growing body of evidence suggests we think and learn better when we walk or do another form of exercise." This backs up what we runners have always suspected!

Technology too has made running a more enjoyable and fun experience. The advent of smart phones with embedded GPSs and music playing capability has revolutionized the sport. Gone are the days of droning along a pre-mapped course listening only to the sound of your breathing and feet hitting the pavement (although sometimes I still like to run "old school" at times). Nowadays, you can strap a phone to your arm via an armband, wirelessly streaming your favorite tunes to a Bluetooth headset, and away you go. Do you select a playlist that "sends you back in time" or maybe one that lets you rejoice or perhaps one that fires you up or one that makes you think? The combinations are endless and add tremendously to the experience. This technology also lets your friends "cheer" for you through applications that link to social networking sites, in real time, while you are running! And using the embedded GPS, running applications can give you status updates as the miles go by on your pace and distance. Afterward, you can use these applications to analyze your training and share it with your friends.

Finally, there's just no denying that running will make you healthier. You'll lose weight, get stronger, lower your cholesterol, and improve your cardiovascular system. So, go find a good pair of shoes designed to match your gait and the way you run, and go for it!