Viewpoint: Flee from running just to fit in

1/17/15 Magic School Bus Wildart

Now well into the new year, throngs of neon Nike tennis shoes still thump the Bear Trail’s packed pavement. The evening sun casts a sacred glow on the dozens of heads bobbing to various choices of music. The gym’s treadmills, too, are revolving doors for students running to uphold their mantra “new year, new you.”

But, I wonder, what if I like myself as I am? Am I inept if I choose not to join the running masses?

Running, it seems, has become a god in our image-consumed culture — a god college campuses worship with unparalleled devoutness. Every red cheek, black legging and weathered shoelace is a badge of honor proudly telling the world, “I run, therefore I have my life together.” It’s become a tangible divide among students: there are those who run and those who don’t.

While I may occasionally run a few laps, I certainly have never professed an undying love for the heart pumping, mind-numbing, am-I-dying sensations inherent to running. It’s just not for me. In fact, my left knee still carries the scars from an embarrassing Bear Trail tumble over a year ago that landed me flat on my face. Yes, I was that girl.

Though running in itself is a powerful, proven way to increase overall health, I’m not convinced the motives behind the run are always as beneficial. Running because everyone else is running isn’t healthy — it’s torture. Running because it looks “cool” to run isn’t healthy — it’s silly. And running because the skinny people run isn’t healthy — it’s unwise.

Each body is uniquely designed for physical activity, but not all for the same activity. Such monotony would be boring and is certainly not the way God crafted us. In reality, those who run are no more physically capable than those who choose other, less public, forms of exercise. I love yoga and hiking, others choose rock climbing or Zumba. The point is not what exercise we do, but rather that we enjoy the activity while doing it. Life is too short to not love what we do with the time we’re given.

As I walk around campus and see dozens panting for breath while pretending jogging is as easy for them as taking a bubble bath, I wonder how many really enjoy their strides, and how many are torturing themselves just to fit in.

If the true goal of running is to live a full, healthy life that honors the body and fulfills the soul, then other forms of exercise should be celebrated with equal energy. College ought to be a time we celebrate who we are, not mold into who we are not. I’m not a runner. And that’s fine by me.

Elizabeth Arnold is a senior journalism major from Carrollton. She is a guest columnist for the Lariat.