Thesis: Although practiced running can be enjoyable and gratifying, being a consistent runner requires the highest level of self-discipline, and such self-discipline can propel the runner to achieve greatness in other areas (socio-economic and political) of his or her life.
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Many health experts and nutritionists continuously blame the modern sedentary lifestyles for the increase in incidences of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, obesity, high-blood pressure, heart diseases, and even cancer. These diseases have increased commensurate to the sedentary and non-active lifestyles that many people in the western world have adopted.
The youth and even children in high schools and kindergartens in the western world are becoming increasingly non-active in their daily lives. Obesity rates amongst teens and youth in the US, for instance, have soared to almost 30%, while those of the UK are steadily rising (Yang & Nichols 2011, p 381). Therefore, a lack of exercise and exerting outdoor activities amongst citizens of western nations is a real public health concern.
One of the exercises that many people are encouraged to take up is running or jogging. Requiring little skill, inexpensive attire, and applicable in nearly all habitable terrain, running is touted as one the activities that if adopted, can offer immense health benefits to an individual at little cost (Galli et al 2011, p 48).
Running, as an activity, can be performed at any time of day, and may be undertaken individually or with other persons with similar inclination. However, practiced running requires the runner to be determined and follow a consistent programme to attain the full benefits of this form of exercise. Therefore, practiced running requires a very high level of self-discipline.
The online runner’s magazine, “Runner’s World” at https://www.runnersworld.com/, outlines the benefits of running, profiles famous politicians and political leaders for whom running is a hobby, gives tips on the best techniques to use for sustainable running, and also showcases the kinds of bodies that consistent runners acquire over time.
As depicted in the online magazine “Runner’s World”, running as a form of exercise is enjoyable, gratifying and healthy. Runners gain good physiques, are disciplined, and achieve milestones like winning World Championships and Olympic medals. Moreover, they are highly self-disciplined.
Additionally, due to their practiced self-discipline acquired through patient and persistent running, runners scale the heights of their respective socio-political and economic pursuits.
Although running can be enjoyable and gratifying, being a consistent runner requires the highest level of self-discipline, and such self-discipline can propel the runner to achieve greatness in other areas (socio-economic and political) of his or her life.
Running as an enjoyable, gratifying and healthy activity
In “Runner’s World” magazine, the various runners featured are portrayed and pictured in happy poses. ,The runners featured at the home page, both real life actual famous persons and running models, all have admirable bodies and physiques. Various featured articles appearing at the home page of the magazine are geared towards encouraging the reader to take up running.
The featured runners, by virtue of their smiling and contented appearance, portray an image of persons highly satisfied with, or drawing a lot of satisfaction from, running as a form of exercise. The body is thus portrayed as requiring exercise (running) in order to acquire the state of personal satisfaction depicted in the runners featured.
As part of an individual’s journey towards self-actualization and attaining self- discipline through running, the magazine features articles on challenges that runners should take up, for instance competing in a marathon. Readers are also shown how running is tied to one’s health, a further incentive for the reader to take up running.
Running and Admirable Physiques, and the attainment of World and Olympic Glory
Besides simply running for leisure, self gratifying and health reasons, running in the magazine “Runner’s World” is also depicted as a pursuit that leaves the runner with an admirable and handsome physique, besides an opportunity for acquiring world wide fame and glory at the international level through participating in marathons, World Championships and Olympic contests.
The form of body that “Runner’s World” magazine idolizes is one that is fat-free, slim and well toned. As stated earlier, all the runners pictured in the home page of the magazine have bodies that fit the stated description to a greater or lesser extent.
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Because running is primarily a form of physical exercise, the ultimate aim of many individuals engaged in any form of physical exercise is to acquire a body that will earn admiration from others in society. Having an admirable physique, for many runners and aspiring runners, is the ultimate prize for enduring the rigours of practice through disciplined running (Gimlin 2010, p 270).
One video featured on the home page shows a picture of a man with well-toned abdominal muscles. In the accompanying message for the picture/video, the reader is encouraged to practice the exercise that is shown in the video, with the promise that the result would be the reader acquiring the same athlete-like body. Therefore, the magazine idealises the toned, slim and muscled body, similar to that of an athlete.
Additionally, the news segment of the magazine features the triumph of the athlete Jenny Simpson of America. Simpson won gold in the 1,500 race in the ongoing World Athletics Championship, in a race that few US women have featured in or won in both the World Championships and Olympic games. As a featured athlete, Simpson represents two aspects of running encapsulated in the thematic content of “Runner’s World”.
Firstly, her highly visible picture portrays an admirable body. Simpson is well toned and has an impressive and athletic body. Therefore, in a sense, she has the prototypic body that all runners and aspiring runners desire to have. Her comparatively bigger picture at the home page of the magazine thus serves to enhance further the body image of accomplished runners.
Additionally, Jenny Simpson also represents achievement that demands respect and adoration from all. Winning a World Championship gold medal at the age of 25 years represents a milestone in her life, and encourages the reader to pursue his or her own milestones, both as a runner and in other aspects of his or her life (Sloman, Sturman & Price 2011, p 324).
Therefore, by reading of her achievement, the runner is motivated. To win a World Athletics Championship medal, though requiring higher training intensities, calls for as much discipline and sacrifice as the practice of every day running for health reasons. While for the athlete appearing on the podium is his or her goal ultimate goal, the non-athlete runner has enjoyment, health and a strong physique as his or her points of focus.
However, both these sets of runners, although having different goals, require self-discipline and sacrifice to achieve their Theygoals. They both have to follow a strict and sometimes gruesome exercise regimen to achieve their different goals. Therefore, the implicit message communicated is that runners have to be highly self-disciplined.
Runners as High Achievers
The self-discipline required in keeping with a strict running schedule in order to maintain optimum health and admirable bodies, especially in non-athletic runners, is easily transferable to other aspects of the runner’s life. In “Runner’s World”, different prominent persons have been profiled, all expressing their love for the practice of running.
These prominent personalities represent diverse sectors of society, indicating the all-inclusive nature of running. Sarah Palin, the former Governor of Alaska in the US, is one of those profiled in the magazine. In a Question and Answer session with the magazine’s writers, she tells of her love for running, a practice instilled in her by her parents.
She states that running helps her achieve a sense of accomplishment every day, confessing that running is an extremely valuable part of who she is. Current Chicago mayor, Ralph Emmanuel, is also featured, and he shares his love for marathons, stating that running keeps him physically fit and healthy.
The other prominent person featured in the magazine is Flea, the bassist for the popular band Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Despite their busy schedules, these featured persons make time exercise and run, and “Runner’s World” depicts them as role models for others in society. All the three mentioned persons look physically appealing, and seem to age gracefully, a matter partly attributable to their ‘running lifestyle’.
The three high achievers in different realms of socioeconomic and political pursuits, being keen runners, portray runners as high achievers. As depicted in the magazine, the self-discipline that these three prominent persons posses, and one that has enabled them scale the heights of their different careers stems from the self-discipline required to be a consistent runner.
Conclusion and Personal Analysis
In conclusion, “Runner’s World” magazine idealises the runner and his or her body as a healthy, happy, physically appealing and high achieving person. All models and people featured in the magazine have admirable physiques, with running as the form of exercise that helps achieve these bodies.
The different segments of the magazine all strive to deliver this message. The theme of self-discipline as the most vital characteristic of the runner is prevalent in the magazine’s articles. Personally, the images depicted were a slightly unrealistic, because I know a lot of keen joggers and runners who are heavily built, and some who are even fat; yet these people jog or run every day. Therefore, the image of a lean, athletic and well-toned person as the ideal body image of a runner as depicted in the magazine is slightly unrealistic for me.
As a keen runner myself, the depiction of the runner as a highly focused and self-disciplined individual applies. Creating time for running each morning requires a determined mind.
However, as has been depicted in the magazine, the practice of running helps me achieve focus, relieve stress and function at higher levels of concentration than the average person. Therefore, running as a form of exercise should be encouraged, because the health benefits for both the individual and society are numerous (Ross & Thomas, 2010, p 4). Then a dawn of healthier, more active and less diseased individuals in the western society can be ushered.
Galli, N., Reel, J., Petrie, T., Greenleaf, C., & Carter, J., 2011. Preliminary Development Of the Weight Pressures in Sport Scale for Male Athletes. Journal of Sport Behaviour, 34(1), pp. 47-68.
Gimlin, D., 2010. Uncivil Attention and the Public Runner. Sociology of Sport Journal, 27(3), pp. 268-284.
Ross, A., & Thomas, S., 2010. The Health Benefits of Yoga and Exercise: A Review of Comparison Studies. Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, 16(1), pp. 3-12
Sloman, L., Sturman, E., & Price, J., 2011. Winning and Losing: An Evolutionary Approach to Mood Disorders and Their Therapy. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 56(6), pp. 324-332.
Yang, Y., & Nichols, L., 2011. Obesity and Health System Reform: Private vs. Public Responsibility. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 39(3), pp. 380-386.