Running truly is a great gift |

Running truly is a great gift

It’s Valentine’s Day as I write this, and what better time to think about what and who we love.

Okay, you’re reading this two days after Valentine’s Day, but I trust you can make the stretch.

A great gift to give those you love is the joy of running. True, it’s not for everybody, but most can do it.

Of all the activities that are healthy and recommended for everything from cardiovascular fitness to stress reduction, running ranks in the upper echelon.

To get started, you need very little, just a good pair of shoes. Well, a t-shirt, shorts and socks would also be handy, as streaking went out in the 70s.

But you don’t need expensive gear or a court or a pool. Running is one of those great sports activities that can be done just about anywhere and at any time.

Grass Valley’s Shawn Ryley, a running friend of mine, is a classic example of giving the gift of the joy of running to those around him, at his job at Record Connection. Many of his co-workers have started running, and many have even run races.

Shawn’s enthusiasm about the sport is contagious. He is a great example that it’s never too late to get started. In school he was a baseball player and afterwards, a serious weightlifter. I think he could probably lift me over his head without breaking a sweat, come to think of it.

But he discovered the fun in running and racing, found he loved it, and he’s passing it along to anyone and everyone who’s interested. Shawn truly is an ambassador of running.

Sharing the joy of running is another way to connect with those you love, whether it be actually running, or communicating the stories and happiness of an exceptional race or workout, or the positive self-worth feelings generated by being in good shape.

All three of my kids – Jennifer, Traci and Skyler – have run track races and I love that they tried it, whether it turns out to be their “thing” or not.

My significant other, Suzanne, decided to start running several months after we met, in part inspired by seeing how much I loved it.

She was discouraged in the past when she tried because she ran until she was over-tired and didn’t enjoy it. No wonder!

Taking a page from the Jeff Galloway philosophy for beginning runners, Suzanne tried running again, this time with walk breaks when she started to get uncomfortably tired.

This made the experience less daunting, and over time she increased her running time and decreased her walk intervals. And the great thing is that almost anyone can run by using the regular walk breaks to allow for recovery.

Start small and slowly build up as comfort levels are reached. Maybe run two minutes then walk one. Try different time frames and find out what works for you.

Now, Suzanne is as consistent as I am, running every other day without fail, regardless of the weather. Her dedication has told me a lot about her, in very positive ways. Am I proud of her? You bet!

By running, she has also experienced aspects of my life that otherwise she would try to understand, but would only partially be able to truly “get.”

There’s nothing like actually doing something to really understand it.

Words and pictures can communicate, but experience is what creates the greater understanding, and in this case (pardon the pun), the stronger bond.

Just ask Nevada City’s Gayle and Fred Lossman. They have a great relationship built in part on a shared love of running. I saw them both at the Valentine’s four-mile race in Sacramento last Saturday and they always bring a smile to my face.

And even if those you love don’t take to running, they still benefit from your love of running and the joy, well-being and peace of mind it brings you, which ripples out to those in your life.

So don’t be shy about your love of running. Live by example, and give the gift of increased health and a longer, more joy-filled life through running.

After all, when you love someone, having more time with that person on this planet so you can enjoy each other even longer is a very worthy goal. And running is a fine way to do that.

A (slightly belated) Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone!


Steve Bond, a local competitive runner who writes about running for The Union, loves running and racing, and has loved the great running weather we’ve had recently. He can be reached at

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