Born to Run?

It is a truth universally acknolwedged among ballet students and dancers that running (or jogging) is bad, bad, bad.  Many dancers will say that running is terrible because it is pretty high-impact, meaning your joints can take a beating, and it works against you because it's a turned-in activity.  However, as a dancer who has been an amateur runner for the past six months, I say this is not necessarily true.

 

I started running because I needed to do a bit more cardio, since I wasn't dancing as much as I had been.  So to supplement my classes, I began pounding the pavement in my Brooklyn neighborhood two or three times a week, going about two miles or so.  It was really hard at first.  I've never been much for sports, and  I couldn't jog for more than 15 minutes without having to stop and walk, and my legs quickly got tired.  And believe me, I was NOT going very fast.  I stuck with it, though, because I really wanted to be able to run a few miles whenever I felt like it.  It's a good workout that can be done anytime, anywhere.  What really helped was setting a goal for myself:  I signed up for a four-mile New York Road Runners race in Central Park in June, which seemed totally impossible at the time, but I thought I would try and get to that point anyway.  You know what?  It worked.  I gently pushed myself to go a little faster and a little farther every couple of weeks, until one day, I realized I could run four miles without stopping.  I was so excited!  On race day, I got up at 6:15 a.m. to get ready for the 8:30 a.m. start.  I was nervous as I headed over to Central Park and waded into the crowd that had turned out to run, and wasn't sure that I was going to make it after all.  But I did, and when I finished, I felt euphoric and really proud of myself.  I had never competed in anything before, and the feeling of crossing a finish line (and no, I wasn't last, thank you very much) was great.

 

Since then, I've really fallen in love with running.  I can now run six miles at a pretty good pace, and I really like the opportunity it provides to get outside.  And as far as dancing goes?  My stamina has improved a lot, and since I stretch pretty religiously after running, I don't have problems with my turnout or flexibility decreasing.  The biggest change that has taken place, though, is how much confidence I've gained, knowing that I can do something other than ballet that is physically demanding and requires a lot of discipline as well.  I take that confidence with me into the studio, which is where we all need it most.