Running for the Numbers
by Rick Hart
Many runners train and race for and by the numbers. When training we track our weekly and monthly mileage number, possibly our number of minutes running and hopefully the pace of the training runs. When racing we care about our time and probably track our pace. When the race is over we often are anxious to find out our place. Whether we are training or racing the numbers are important to us.
Since we aren’t professional runners we run for fitness and self satisfaction. The satisfaction we seek may be fulfilled by finishing a race that we never thought possible a few years or months ago. More experienced or faster runners may seek PR times, awards or the challenge of the competition. There’s nothing more satisfying than knowing that your training efforts paid off on race day. For many, the most important aspect of running is the camaraderie with the other runners.
No matter what your reason for running you must remember that just because you are a runner you can’t eat whatever you want. Two important numbers in your life are your cholesterol and your blood pressure. Prevention magazine says that LDL (bad cholesterol) is caused by consumption of saturated fat and trans fats. Dietary fiber found in whole grains, vegetables, apples and many other fruits help eliminate LDL’s from the blood. Green tea and dark chocolate have been shown to help prevent the absorption of LDL’s and encourage the production of HDL (good cholesterol). Regular exercise produces HDL’s which patrol the arteries preventing LDL’s from collecting along the walls of your arteries which causes blockage and hardening. Hypertension (high blood pressure) strains the arteries which can lead to heart attacks, strokes and aneurysms. AARP recommends we eat less saturated fats, sugar and salt. Proper diet and regular exercise will keep the blood pressure of most people in the healthy range.
Yes it feels wonderful to celebrate the numbers your running has achieved but they are not your most important numbers. The measureable health factor numbers are more substantial.
Remember the most significant number is you taking care of number 1.