When was the last time that you went running (or cycling or roller blading or skiing) as a way to get somewhere rather than as just a workout or leisure activity? Do you ever commute with your workouts? Or is it all just “wasted effort” that does not actually produce anything?

A friend of mine who grew up on a farm could never understand why people go to a gym to lift weights. He would always ask why people would bother engaging in what is obviously a strenuous activity when nothing actually got done. As anybody who has ever lived or worked on a farm, or even just done their own yardwork, can attest, it is very easy to get a good workout while still doing something useful with your energy.

a triathlete cooling down by dumping water on his head

Photo by Curtis Perry
I have always agreed with him in principle, but have never let it deter me from going to a gym and working out. Instead, I just plan my yard work or snow shoveling or carrying 80-100 pound printers at work into my weight schedule.

Running always involves going from one place to another. In general, my workouts always involve me going from one place back to that same place. Nothing besides the running (and thinking) ever gets done in the mean time.

When I was growing up, that was not always the case. When I started running on a regular basis, my mother started sending me to the store if we only needed a couple of small items for a meal. There was one Saturday afternoon where I ran back and forth between the store and home a half dozen times between requests from my mother and my step-father. I very rarely carry anything on my runs anymore, though.

Today I needed to run at least 16 miles. I was not expecting to have time to see my aunt this weekend while I am up visiting in her neck of the woods, and she lives 8½ miles from my mother. My run today was not a fruitless endeavor. I travelled over to my aunt’s house, got to visit with her for 20 or 30 minutes, and then travelled back to my mother’s house. It was a good use of my morning.

I do not actually believe that running is a pointless endeavor, or that lifting weights or any sort of exercise is. The physical and mental health benefits are always worthwhile. Every now and again, though, it is good to look back at the work you did or the roads you ran and feel a sense of accomplishment.