I’ve taken up running as a hobby around 2 years ago. I took it based on a friend’s recommendation as an activity to take my mind off things and to clear my head. I started out slowly and was encouraged by the Nike Plus app on iPhone. I never looked back and this is probably one of the few hobbies/activities that I have been doing consistently. It’s a good habit as well, anyone who exercises often knows ‘the itch’, you know, that feeling of unease when you slack on physical activity for a few days.
Over time I realized how much I value running, and more recently I’ve been thinking why has it become such an integral part of my life. Well, here are some. I am sure some runners I personally know could relate.
No brainer here. Although one could argue that it is not entirely free, but let’s compare it to a couple of sports and activities (Based on my personal experience here in Dubai at least)
Football (And group sports in general): Booking pitches and/or signing up to a league, buying specialized kits (i.e. socks, trying different boots etc.).
Swimming: If you do not have a decent swimming pool where you live (And you’re not able to go to someone else’s pool whenever you please) this means you need to hit the beach or join a health club with a swimming pool. Now going to the beach is free but it involves other hassles (Transportation, sand, buying refreshments to stay hydrated etc.)
Gym: Similar to swimming, if you do not have a good one in your building then you have to sign up to a membership. There are many people who can tell you a lot about how they were ripped off by the ‘corporate gym franchises’.
Running: After you’ve bought new boots and gotten used to them you are pretty much set. Obviously you may need to buy clothes that are suitable for jogging, but these are clothes that usually last for a while (Some of my gear lasted for years). Since we live in a safe city, it is okay to go out running even at random times (even for girls, depending on the area). If running outside is not possible, that mediocre treadmill in the compound/building gym will do.
This might irk some people but here goes anyway. In the past two years I was involved to varying degrees in organizing football games with colleagues and/or friends. I love playing football, and I owe a lot to these football sessions and leagues that I have signed up to as my technique improved (and even my stamina). It also made sure I worked out muscles that I wouldn’t normally use when I jog. The downside about it is putting things together.
When you sign up to a league or when you book a football pitch you have several things at stake: You need players and money. You have to make sure that everyone gets a fair amount of playing time (because each one contributed financially. Most of these gatherings were for men’s teams and it is not an easy task to tell a grown up man that he has to sit on the bench and be a sub, or even in some cases to convince someone to take one for the team and play in goal or out of his preferred position. The testosterone levels are higher than usual and the competitiveness we as men have goes through the roof before, during and after these games and matters can heat up rather quickly. Also, making sure you have enough players is not always straightforward as everyone has commitments and their own lives to deal with and have to prioritize things. This is completely understandable, but when it becomes something you have to deal with often it can become frustrating.
Running on the other hand is almost hassle-free (For me at least). It is an individual sport and does not require picking up the phone and calling 10+ people or emailing/Facebook messaging people way ahead of time (And again, it’s free)
In “A State Of Trance”
I love trance, if you are into this sub-genre of dance music (Or any other genre of digital music) you would be able to relate. New music releases, remixes and sets come out all the time and keeping yourself up to date is a mammoth task. With trance I download the most recent sets on my iPhone, charge it and head out for a long(ish) jog. Easy peasy! I personally prefer Marklus Schulz’s Global DJ Broadcast sets to be honest, but Armin’s A State Of Trance and Tritonal’s Air Up There are excellent alternatives too. So, kill two birds with one stone: Get fit running and stay up to date with trance! Bliss 🙂
Exploring the city
One thing about living in a growing city that is full of highways like Dubai is that you do not get to explore it properly unless you walk around it. I discovered many places and interesting routes by simply jogging there. One would think that the distances are great but this is not the case. It’s usually an impression we have when we drive. I live in Tecom and the distance to the nearest big mall (Mall of the Emirates) is around 5-6 kms (would take 30-40 minutes jogging at an okay pace) but when you drive to it due to the traffic lights, speed breakers etc. it feels much longer than that.
The competitive runs
There is a big running community here, with several groups that organize regular casual runs around the city on weekly basis, in addition to that, some of these groups organize competitive runs. I am glad I got to do 9 of those this year (Earning 8 medals in the process. One of them had no medals for some reason but it was okay, I broke my 5k’s personal best in it so I am content :)). You get a medal for completing these runs and the feeling you get during and after these runs is priceless. Having friends who do these competitive runs adds to the fun. Breaking your personal best times is also great as it spurs you on to do more.
Well, bit obvious but yeah. It helps you stay fit. You start becoming more healthy as well as you watch what you eat and consume less harmful substances that you know will harm your body (Sweets, alcohol, cigarettes etc.). Not that I drink or smoke but you get the drift. You start challenging yourself to run longer, faster and better.
So, yeah. These are some reasons why I run :). Why do you run?