I remember my mother telling me that when she was young, people looked at recreational runners as though they were crazy. Running…just for the fun of it? If you wanted exercise, your best bet was to play mixed doubles at the local tennis club or – if you’re from the Midwest or Florida – perhaps even a quick match of Jai-Alai or Shuffleboard.
These days, however, running and walking have become part of the ethos of American leisure activities. In the suburbs and in the cities, everyday folks are hitting the streets in record numbers. What’s more, walking/running clubs are springing up all over the place for people of different ability levels and experience. Are Americans just that much more passionate about physical fitness? Have we suddenly discovered a Forrest Gump-esque love of the road? Or does the appeal of running stem from its relative ease: anyone can get started.
Spring is a terrific time to get motivated to head outdoors and enjoy some fresh air. Whether your goal is to make it around the block or across town, think about linking up with friends that can help keep you accountable and make the exercise time more fun. Perhaps members of your congregation would like to start or join a group: think of it as fellowship on the move. Here are some resources that can help you all get started:
Cool Running’s List of NC Clubs & Teams One of my favorite runners, John “The Penguin” Bingham, offers hilarious and encouraging tips for those of us who don’t exactly see ourselves as naturals to the sport. If you wonder whether road sports are for you, I encourage you to check out The Penguin’s website .Finally, RunnersWorld.com offers some great tips and advice for people new to the sport. To help reduce injuries and set healthy and realistic goals, check out their website at www.runnersworld.com . See you on the streets!
The Rev. Katherine Smith
Director, Duke Youth Academy
Leadership Education at Duke Divinity