Why Running is the Ultimate Minimalist Exercise

Living Apex minimalist running

By Andy Vaughn on August 18, 2014

It’s the favorite part of my day. Most mornings, just after sunrise, I’ll head out the door with my dog, Pablo, and hit the road running. We have a trail that we pound every day. Sometimes we’ll cover a quick 3 mile route. Other times we’ll run up to 7 miles. That’s how far I run, but Pablo covers much more ground. I imagine his tracks looking like the old Family Circus cartoon where Billy goes zig-zagging all over town just to fetch butter from the next door neighbor. God only knows how far he runs on our morning adventures.

That’s probably why I choose to run instead of lift weights or jump on the Crossfit bandwagon. The adventure. I never know what I’m going to see when I head out on our morning ventures, and I like that. It takes zero preparation1, is easy to do, and offers limitless experiences that you’ll never find in a stuffy and sweaty gym.

I need no equipment other than my shoes and an affinity for “the burn”. There’s no major investment in weights or special equipment. It’s just me, the open road, and my obsession with bettering my PR2. That’s what sets running apart from almost every other exercise. Its simplicity.

As with any activity, there’s plenty of ways to buy into the consumerism delusion. Running’s no different. You’ll be told that you need special reflective gear or water resistant windbreakers to battle darkness or inclement weather. Of course those things are great, but you don’t need them. It’s pure joy to go out and run in the rain. If you haven’t tried it, then you should. Once you know that you’re going to be sopping wet no matter what you do, then you’re free to enjoy the cool drops of water running down your face. You might even be transported back to your childhood – when you begged your mom to let you run in the rain.

In fact, I would argue that we enjoy the benefits of running far more once we treat it like the minimalist activity it is. We need to unplug the iPhone and just get out and run. There’s something truly cathardic about galloping your way along a trail in complete silence. Once we lose all of the unnecessary accessories, we’ll soon get back to what makes running so glorious – its simplicity. It’s you and the road.

Occasionally you have a massive hill that you need to conquer3. Sometimes you’ll have to overcome wretched weather. But that’s part of the fun. I’ve run in torrential downpours, 6 inches of snow, and in 110 degree weather. All of them have been memorable runs, and truth be told, they all made me feel like Rocky Balboa4. In case you’re wondering, that’s always a good thing.

Running is one of the simplest workouts you can do. Go from point A to point B quickly. That’s all there is to it. It’s very easy to tell who’s a better runner as well. The person that can get to point B the fastest is clearly superior. It’s this kind of simplicity that’s made running one of the oldest exercises mankind has ever participated in. If you’ve never tried it, I suggest you do. You might find that your body isn’t the only part of you that gets a good exercise.

1. Although I have found that eating beans or Thai food the night before a long run is not a good idea!
2. The PR or personal record is one of the primary forces for any runner. It’s the mythical pot of gold that once you find, you instantly need to go create a new PR. In short, PR’s are the bane of any runner’s existence AND their greatest accomplishment. I know, it sounds weird – but that’s only because it is. Once you reach a PR you’ve been shooting for, you’ll understand.
3. I have a personal habit of naming the hills I’m trying to conquer. Usually it’s something like “Hill of Death” or “Mountain of Doom”. Recently I was running with my nephew and sister, and we approached what he classically called “Mordor”.
4. It should be noted that I do not in fact scream “ADRIAN” as I run. Although the occasional “DRAGOOOOOO” has slipped out a time or two. But only when I run in the snow.

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