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Spring Into Shape: Running at the core of a love-hate relationship

You start out thinking that today might be a good day to go for a jog. You lace up your Asics, plug your headphones into your iPod and head outside. You’re feeling motivated as you start your playlist and run down that first hill. You’re on fire. You could probably go forever.

And then, there it is. That upward hill. Probably double the incline of Jeff Hill, you take one look at it and mentally groan. Regardless, you persist.

Three quarters of the way up, your lungs ache treacherously. Your legs and muscles burn. And simultaneously, you think, why am I doing this again? This is why I’m not a runner. This is why I can’t be a runner. I’m not good enough to do this.

It’s easy to give up on something you don’t think you can do, and I believe this is why so many people claim to “hate” running. You loathe it because it’s hard; you avoid it because it’s a challenge. But you shouldn’t hate it or avoid it — the fact that it’s difficult is why it’s always the best cardio option.

Running will always blast the most calories — whether on a treadmill or outside on the trail, it blows the elliptical and stationary bike out of the water. At a difficult extension level, running can burn up to 800 calories an hour. If you’re looking to get fit, there really is no better way.

Many people strive to lose or manage their current weight by running regularly. It is one of the top activities for burning fat. And it gives your mental health a boost.

Other benefits of running regularly include a stronger, faster pumping heart and a prevention of muscle and bone loss. Our bodies need strength and energy to grow and remain strong, and a high-intensity exercise like running helps us achieve that goal.

Like many runners, I have a love/hate relationship with the sport. I have haunting memories of my high school track days, which include sprints in the pouring rain, a few pairs of shin splints, unbearable ice baths and an endless amount of nerves before the 800-meter run.

But ultimately, I am addicted to the way I feel when I run: The upbeat music that’s blaring into my ears and the sun that’s effortlessly beating down on my face. I live for experiencing that “runner’s high” during a workout — that moment when I feel so energized that I could run forever.

That’s the feeling that keeps me coming back to the track and back to the park trails. It’s the reason why I still run, post high school track.

For all of its physical and mental benefits, I like to say that running always wins. There are dozens of other sports and forms of physical activity that will get your heart pumping, but none of them work your body to the core like this one does.

Many will disagree when I say this, but I believe that running is something everybody can get excited about. Anyone can do it — there is no necessary equipment or skill level you need to be able to run. You just have to muster enough courage to venture outside or to the gym to get moving.

So, when you reach that monstrous-looking hill, don’t fret. Work your way up its heavy incline and stride until you get to the top.

You can recover later — and you’ll realize that it was worth it when you experience that “runner’s high.”

Happy running!

Kaitlyn Richert is a sophomore studying journalism and informational graphics and is a columnist for The Post. Send her your running advice to


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