Tuesday, March 25, 2014

9 Myths About Runners

Like any group, runners get stereotyped. Apparently, we are overly-healthy, obsessed, type-A, teetotaling  individuals with bad knees who never take a day’s rest. Or, something like that.

I’m here to dismantle some of these preconceived notions about us. Let’s set the record straight. Here are 9 misconceptions about runners.

1. Running’s easy for us. I can’t tell you how many people tell me they don’t run because it is “hard.” The funny part is, they also think running must be easy for me because I run all the time.  No. Running is stupid eff’ing hard. I think you just get used to being uncomfortable.

Truth is, it’s even hard for Deena Kastor and she sets records left and right. There is always someplace to go with your running. If it feels easy, then most runners will pick up the pace or run on hills. Then it just becomes hard again. For me, expecting running to be hard is the key. Then you are not so surprised or pissed off.

2. Our knees are trashed. This one always cracks me up. I’ve had my share of injuries that have resulted directly from running (hip stress fracture, foot stress fracture, high hamstring tendinopathy, hamstring tear), but my knees are just perfect! This isn’t to say that one day my knee cap won’t just fall off into the gutter while on a 20 mile run, but so far so good. In fact, there has been quite a bit of research done on why running is NOT bad for your knees. I won’t plagiarize it here – you should just go read the articles yourself.

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3. We run everyday. Truth be told, I know there are those of you that run every day, but if I did that I would poke my eyes out (and my knee might fall into the gutter). The most I run at the height of marathon training is five days per week. When I am just maintaining my running, it is more like three to four times per week (same with Ironman training).

4. We love every minute that we run. See #1. I am a running freak and fanatic, but I still sometimes hate running. And, that is OKAY! The point is that even when I don’t feel like doing it or I am unhappy in the middle of a run because it is –40 degrees or I have to poop or some body part hurts, I still keep going. That’s why the blog is called Shut Up and Run. You do it even when you don't feel like it. But, I can promise you, you will love every minute that follows a run. Bask in the glory!

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Okay, maybe my friend Julie loves every moment she runs,
but she is the only one.

5. Because we run, we are really healthy. While I do believe that running qualifies as a “healthy” activity, just because you run does not make you inherently healthy. Take me, for example. I run my face off, but then I eat plenty of Dots, Goldfish and chocolate chip cookies. I am not sure this qualifies me as healthy. I also drink wine every night and at least 16 ounces of coffee every morning (depending on what you believe, these might be healthily things to do). Like anything, running is part of healthy lifestyle, but does not make one automatically healthy since there are so many other factors involved (including sleep, hydration, stress relieving exercises, diet, etc.).

6. We’ve been running since childhood. I think if you run a lot of races, especially half or full marathons, people assume you have been running your entire life. No way! I spent a lot of times in my 20s and 30s drinking beer, sleeping and deliberately not exercising. Running and I did not become acquainted until I was 41 years old. I am kind of glad about that, because there has been some talk that runners wear out over time. I figure if I started late, maybe I can run until I’m 100, or at least until next year when I turn 48.

7. We run really fast. All the time. This one cracks me up. I will ask someone to run with me and they will say, “But you are so fast!” I wonder what could possibly make them think that. Yes, I am faster than some, but I am slower than many more. Just because you run a lot does not make you fast. And, anyway, fast is totally subjective. I am fast compared to Homer Simpson.

8. We don’t drink alcohol. Hahahahahaha! Lmfao! Clearly the person who thinks this hasn’t been at the finish line of a race where there is beer. The beer line is longer than the one for water, bagels or free money! That said, wine is very much a part of my diet (see #5 above). I know that alcohol dehydrates and is the cause of lots of other evil stuff (hangovers, the jitters, memory loss), but I happen to like it (well, not the hangovers, but you know what I mean). Would I be a stronger runner without my wine? Maybe. I guess I’ll never know.

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9. We are obsessed with running. Well, this one just might be true.

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Ever been stereotyped with any of these myths?

Have any to add to the list?

SUAR

63 comments:

  1. I've been told plenty that I can't be a runner because I don't have a runner's body... At first I got upset then I realized that they had NO iota what it means to be a runner, look at the people crossing the finish line of any race and there is no one body "type." I've seen guys who looked like they had a barrel strapped to their chest blowing past the dude with the "runner's body" at mile 13!

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    1. I don't believe there is any common runner's body. I started running at age 38. I'm 5 foot 5 inches tall and at the time I started running was well over 200 pounds. Three years later, I'm down about forty pounds but still don't have a figure like some of my other friends. I have friends that run marathons and they got their bodies by cross training. One thing is for sure, I don't compare myself to other runners. I run at a turtle pace and I'm proud of it. :)

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    2. It's simple: If you run, then you have a runner's body.

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  2. People always assume I can eat anything i want because I run. Not the case!

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    1. Sadly, I assumed this when I started running. And for awhile, it was mostly true! Now? Notsomuch...

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  3. HaHa - love this!! I'm the same way - 500 stress fractures but my knees are pretty much the same as always!!!
    And, the junk food and wine is a huge part of my motivation in running!!!

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    1. My knees are the only part of me that are fine too. You know what hurt my knees, trying that Jillian Michaels 30 day shred. By day ten I couldn't walk, let alone run. Needless to say, I don't do that anymore.

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  4. Are you my secret twin - you so could have been writing about me...I love it!

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  5. LOL we never drink alcohol. What a joke :D

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  6. This is great! I actually think a lot of runners aren't that "healthy". We love to drink, eat loads of carbohydrates, and just tell ourselves we need it because we ran so much today:-)

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  7. On my 3rd glass of wine...ok, I'll stop now..

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  8. I agree with all of these! I wish some of them were true!! Also, I've never had knee problems either! Except right now mine hurts, but its from a sore IT band. Oh one that maybe IS true, we are hypochondriacs: OMG I felt a twinge in my knee. I'm done for!!!!! What if I have to take time off?!?!? No!!!!!

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  9. Yes -- 1, 4, 5, 7 & 9. There is also the misconception that only specially designed people can run long distances. I can't tell you how many people I have had to tell that if they actually enjoyed running (why do it if you hate it?) and had no specific physical ailment keeping them from running (such as bad knees) they too could run a marathon with training.

    One of the best quotes I heard from a long-time ultrarunner -- it doesn't have to be "fun" to be fun. Word.

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  10. Terrific Post!! True for me, most of them. I didn't start running until I was 44, I also only run 5 days a week, and well heck, they all apply to me :)

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  11. Holy smokes did you hit the nail on the head! Especially #2. I used to have bad knees - then I started running 7 years ago and they haven't bothered me since! I'll keep an eye out for that knee cap falling in the gutter ailment though, it sounds pretty serious. haaaaaa!

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  12. I've heard obsessed with running far too many times. Why do people always think they can't run with you because we must be fast?

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  13. The knees one is the one people tell you when you mention running. My knees probably feel better now than they did when I wasn't running (knock on wood)!

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  14. "You can eat anything you want because you run!" HA! Not even close.

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  15. I love the myth about running doing damage to the knees. I run because I love it and it relives my knee & low back pain.

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  16. Awesome list!!! SPOT on! We have so much in common (didn't start running till 41) and much more. I enjoy wine often too, but lately it's been messing with my sleep :((( So I've substituted ice cream for now!!

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  17. I'm 51 and I run on a knee with an unrepaired ACL tear from 10 years ago. Its road tested up to a half marathon (did 2 one month apart). I have other things that hurt from time to time, but not the knee!
    Question for you. How long did it take you to rehab your hamstring tendinopathy? I've been dealing with the same and have about the same recommendations you had. Mine seems to be getting slowly better.
    Thank you for your blogging dedication. I always get a good laugh.

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  18. Funny thing was that I *did* have bad knees prior to running. But now that I have more muscle built up, those problems have disappeared. Hmm. Ironic. However, I have become painfully acquainted with my ITB since becoming a runner, something I'd never even heard of before. I'm lucky if I get to run 3-4x/week (#3), but if I truly did love it all the time (#4) I probably would go more! I do believe it makes me healthier (#5)....I sleep better, good stress relief, immune system booster, make better food choices (usually). I didn't start trying to run until I was 38 (#6) and while some would argue that I *was* still a child, I would argue differently, thankyouverymuch. In my brief running career, I have managed to shave 2 minutes off my pace, blazing along now at 10:00/mile (#7). Watchout. You really don't have to worry though because I'm not racing anybody but myself. Alcohol? (#8) HA HA HA.

    But yes, I am obsessed.

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  19. Running isn't easy its just easier than not running. My knees are thrashed from 40 years of skateboarding...trail running helps, roadrunning not so much. I don't run every day 4 days a week is the most my legs are capable of regardless of the mileage. I often hate running though the high usually chafes away the hate around a mile or two in. I do run for health reasons....though I was capable of running I was a swimmer and a cyclist until my 46th birthday when my physical therapist told me the only way I was going to be rid of the hardware related pain in my ankle (6 screws and a plate) was if I started running. So I started running a year and a half ago....I am slow but I don't wake up in pain any more. Not to say that it doesn't hurt but its manageable with hot Epsom salt soaks instead of pain mere, plus I've lost 30lbs.....oh yeah and I live a mile from not one but 2 breweries that refill growlers

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  20. My creaky knees have been an embarrassment to me for at least 20 years. When I took up running three years ago, it's almost as if I have an excuse for them, even though the running isn't to blame. Weird but true!

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  21. This is so funny and true! I live in a small town and often, when I am on the running path, I pass the mayor on his nightly stroll, who never fails to yell at me "running is terrible for your knees!"

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  22. #1 is sport on. I love running BECAUSE it's challenge...but I still look at more veteran runners than myself and wish it could be so effortless for me. I guess I just keep thinking that someday, it really will be easy! haha

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  23. I run but don't consider myself a runner. Started last year at age 62. Knees never felt better. Just did 8 miles. Never easy. That's what makes it so compelling. Happy to be part of this select group. Run on.

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    1. Alan W ...If you can run 8 miles you should consider yourself a runner. Welcome to the running community!

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    2. You are a runner if you consciously put on running shoes and run - especially if there is no one chasing you. Period. Doesn't matter how far you go or how fast you go. ReneeW

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    3. I don't run 8 miles, but I consciously put on running shoes and run, even when I'm not being chased. Running makes me feel, I don't know ... great!

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  24. Yes, so many misconceptions about running. I see people all the time that look so effortless, but I also get told I look effortless, so I am constantly reminding myself it hurts for everyone! There are those few days that you go off into la-la land and it feels great, but for me, there aren't that many of those and I have been running since I was young. Guess it's kind of like an addict, always chasing that high!!

    As for #3, there is no way I could run everyday. My legs get tired and when they get tired, I step on pebbles or sticks and re-sprain my bad ankle, etc. That's why when I came across the book Run Less, Run Faster, it was the greatest day ever! The first part of the book was trying to convince you it was good, but I didn't need any convincing.

    I hear #7 some too. I finally told someone, well, if you want to get faster, you have to run with those faster than you. She listened, and guess what, she got faster!!

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  25. LMAO. These are awesome!
    Myth: you have to be a marathoner to call yourself a runner.

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  26. People ask me why I run. I tell them I run so i can stop running. There is no better feeling than when I have completed a long run...or a short run...But while I am running all i am doing is convincing my body how good it will feel when we stop in just one more mile!
    ReneeW.

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  27. I love this post and totally agree with everything. I'm also confused when people talk about how "hard" running is. Of course it's hard. If it were easy, everyone would do it!
    I will also never know how much healthier I would be without wine in my life, it's pretty much a daily thing for me!

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  28. the chairman of the firm I work for is a long-time, multiple marathoner, enters every race he can get his hands on, loves every minute of it. When he and i ran (well, he ran, I jogged) our first 5 miler together, he finished way, way, way before I did, and he walked back, jumped on the course with me, then ran with me to the finish line. He then told me, it was official, I was a runner. I asked him why now instead of all the miles I logged before it? His answer was, because I completed something. Running on the treadmill or through the neighborhoods is great, and a healthy lifestyle option, but entering and completing a race, whether first place or last place, makes one an official runner. Not long after that, I was signing up for everything and anything I could get my hands on. Still hoping to get a half marathon in, but injuries have sidelined me, not my knee though, my ankle. Hoping to avoid surgery and 6 months of casts and crutches. Time wil tell. But for now, I am relegated to the elliptical, the pool and walking. SO TIRED OF IT! But on the flip side, my knees are just fine.
    Amy P. Philly runner.

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    1. Amy, I like that logic. I believe he may be right. I only do 5Ks, but there is something about the start/finish line that makes it official.

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    2. I disagree I only run races for the trail variety and the 2 legged company...otherwise my GSP Muji and I run 15-20 miles a week by ourselves.

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  29. Totally perfect! Gotta share this one!

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  30. Love this! I'm not a drinker, but wish I was.

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  31. Item #8, beer and wine, yep (though not together!). Item #6, nope, unless 49 is my second childhood. Item #7, never will be fast, sub 10:00 miles is still a dream. Every much a love/hate relationship.

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  32. Any time I ask someone to run with me they always say " You run too fast for me". And I'm not even that fast! If I cared about that I wouldn't ask someone to run with me. The alcohol thing is too funny! Every runner I know drinks alcohol:)

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  33. This list is SPOT ON!! They are all true for me--every single one.

    The thing that non-runners don't understand is that running is hard, even for those of us who do it a lot! We don't do it because it's easy for us. Part of the joy of running is knowing that you can persevere over the pain and the fatigue and push on... I think it makes us stronger in every facet of our lives.

    And I just have to say- who says we don't drink alcohol?? I don't know a single runner who doesn't. It is my weekly routine: Saturday morning run long, Saturday evening drink much ;-D

    Love your blog! Wish you lived in my state, I have a feeling we could be drinking buddies :-)

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  34. Nailed it again, SUAR. Almost all of these apply to me. I've been a "serious" runner for 12 years now, and my only knee injury was a torn ACL from landing a jump kick wrong in tae kwon do. I probably shouldn't have been taking that class at age 50, but whatever.

    I totally enjoy your musings - they are runneriffic!

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  35. Absolutely, positively spot on. It's pretty funny: I just started a new job where I'm old enough to be the mother (or maybe even grandmother) of most of the people I work with, and when I tell them I've run 25 half marathons, 3 Ragnar relays, and multiple shorter races, they assume I'm a health nut, super fast, have always run, and love every minute of running. Um, no, no, no, and no; my fav potluck dish to bring is chocolate Guinness cupcakes, I'm a back-of-the-packer (slower than some speed walkers), started running when I was 55, and usually spend the first couple of miles of a run arguing with myself about why on earth I'm doing something so not fun.

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  36. Loved this post! I run but have some of these thoughts toward other runners that I feel are "better and more conditioned" than me. I always feel like a slow and fluffy runner...slow pace and some extra weight! Glad to know the truth!

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  37. Well, I strongly disagree with the #1. Runners do run because for them/us life is easier with running than without running. I do believe that things are differently hard for different people. A little bit or a lot of physical challenge from running is simply easier or even enjoyable for some. You say running is f* hard, but for you it is f* hard in a good way.

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    1. Well yes that goes without saying or I wouldn't do it. I've always said that the overall impact of running on my life is extremely positive, but that doesn't mean it is "easy."

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  38. My non-running friends are always amazed when I tell them how much drinking my running friends and I do together after races. I view every race as a biathlon -- the first leg is running; the second is drinking.

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  39. People constantly tell me "Why do you run so much? You don't need to loose any weight, you're already thin!" My answer? I don't run to lose weight, I run because I enjoy it!" To which I received confused looks. I add, "I also run to achieve some running specific goals that I have set for myself, qualifying for The Boston Marathon, for example." that usually does the trick!

    I also get un-solicited comments about how running is going to ruin my knees, and all runners eventually have bad knees! I used to spend time defending running (and its effects on my knees) but these days I mostly just smile and say, thanks for the advice!

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  40. Thank you so much for #1 especially. It is so nice to hear that I'm not the only one that thinks running is so hard and to appreciate that the reason it never gets easier is that I keep pushing myself a little bit harder each time!

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  41. "Would I be a stronger runner without my wine? Maybe. I guess I’ll never know."
    Can I get that on a t-shirt?
    I run for wine, chocolate and to avoid divorce and mental instability. Period.
    Love this post!

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  42. Yes, yes, and more YES. My addition echos what some folks have already said: "You're only a runner if you run X distance, or Y time, or finish a race, or...." I am constantly reminding folks that, if they're putting on sneakers and running several times a week, they ARE RUNNERS.

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  43. I love this list. I am a slow runner. I am a complain-about-how-much-this-sucks runner. But you know? I am also an obsessed runner!

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  44. I started running at 51, what motivated me to keep running. my husband told me I can run but I will never be a" runner". ( he is a bit like Sheldon Cooper when it come to social skills).I do all kinds of things that really piss him off now. Like the holiday challenge by runner's world mag. instead of 35 days I went for 70. I now cross train in the pool and swim 100 laps every other day. He can't keep up and I love it. Never tell me I can't be something!

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  45. Myth #10: Runners can eat whatever they want, and running protects them from developing coronary artery disease.

    Read this eye-opening story from yesterday's Wall Street Journal:

    http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303949704579461381883678174

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  46. wow, thanks for this post! i have been running for several years, i don't always feel 100%, like doing a run. I am still quite slow, and don't do anything over a half marathon. I appreciate your honesty!
    I am tired of fighting the knee conversation with people. As a bartender, this comes up alot, my comment is always "it is better than sitting on that bar stool night after night!" it is always the unfit who have to put in their two cents.

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  47. Yep, all of these! People at work assumed that I ate tofu and healthy crap all of the time. Luckily, my husband works with me and can attest to me NOT doing that! I tell people that I run to drink wine and eat pizza, candy and pasta!

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  48. Love this list! I get #2 from my family all the time. "Your going to ruin your knees!" Maybe... but at least I'll have healthy lungs and a healthy heart - so worth it!

    I do have to say though that I use running as an excuse to prove my health. Although I am 15-20 lbs overweight, I think I am way healthier as a half marathon runner then most people who sit on their butts at the "perfect" weight.

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  49. This list is hilarious! Before I started running I read up on all of the myths and other pertinent info and so far have found none to really be true. (so far at least). Oh and I do love a small drink of vodka and cran or something in the evenings when I return. Thanks for taking the guilt out of me and hubby's night-time sip! lol This blog is very informative and on top of my daily reads!

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  50. I saw this on my friends facebook wall. I never comment on things but I thought this was so funny and spot on. I was really overweight last year. I am in my mid 40's with a serious aversion to running and a bad back. However, I decided that if I needed to hoist myself out of bed and run for my life I would not be able to do it. So I started to run. Well, I don't know if you'd call it running when my first attempt was less than a minute before I felt like my lungs would explode. Gradually I built my way up to 3.5 miles. 3.5 little miles. It really helped me shed the 60 pounds, but more than that it gave me a sense of accomplishment. I have to be careful with the back...serious pain sets in after 3 miles. It's not a lot, but I do it 4 times a week. I also change it up with sprints and hills because just running 3 miles is too easy. If you would have told me that last year, I would have laughed in your face. And I believe what you say about runners not always being super healthy. My diet is a lot harder to maintain than my exercise routine..which consists of my 3.5 mile run followed by strength training....which I need to do in order to run....lol. So, while I may never run a marathon, and I don't particularly like to run, I love the feeling that I get when I finish...every single time :)

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