Top 10 Reasons to Keep Running (even though you never win)
If you like playing tennis or softball or any other sport for fun and fitness, nobody questions that. Your friends don’t see you in your little white skirt and tennis racket and scoff, “ugh, why do you keep doing that? It’s sooo boring!” But for some reason, runners get this. Like, a lot.
I myself am a reformed running-nay-sayer. I remember once years ago before netflix and pvr when if you wanted to watch tv on a Sunday afternoon you had to watch Sunday afternoon programming (the horror!). I found myself watching a documentary on ultra runners. All I remember of it was the sight of people being wrapped in space blankets in the middle of the night as they came into an aid station and collapsing. I couldn’t wrap my mind around why someone would put themselves through that. It looked so….unpleasant. It must be some warped form of self-harm.
And here I am probably 20ish years later in the middle of the night having just finished my first ultra. Completely converted to the cult of runners.
So why run? There are hundreds of reasons to run, but here are my favorite. I’d love to hear yours!
- Vanity – I’m not even kidding. I started running after I had my 4th child and was seriously unhappy with my body. Running is a major calorie burner. A mile is a mile? Not necessarily. Running a mile burns more calories than walking a mile. And it revs up your metabolism so that even when you’re finished running, you keep on burning.
- Stress Buster – If you want to boost your brain’s serotonin levels, head out for a run. Studies have also shown that it can even remodel your brain making it calmer and more stress resistant. But science aside, 3.1 miles of peace and quiet?? Can’t beat that!
- Zone Out/Meditate – Speaking of peace and quiet… You’ve heard the saying that running is “better than therapy”. There are runs where I’m mulling things over and having uninterrupted thinking time, but even better are the runs where your mind is clear. You think of nothing and everything. Your thoughts are just an unfocused stream of consciousness. It’s like a reboot for your brain. I can’t do this at home. There are too many distractions– kids, phone, that sink full of dishes…
- No Expensive Equipment Required – But I won’t judge you if you get drawn in to all the cool running gear 😉 Getting started, though, is as easy as putting on some sneakers and walking out your front door. My first run I was wearing a cheap $20 pair of runners from a discount store, an old t-shirt and a pair of maternity leggings because of their elastic waistband. Now cute running clothes are a bit of an obsession of mine, but they’re certainly not a necessity!
- Heart Health – As little as an hour a week reduces your risk of heart disease by nearly half, and running is also a natural way to treat high blood pressure with results shown within just three weeks of running.
- Boost Memory – Ok, now I’m just making it super obvious that I just turned 40 and I’ve got getting old on my mind! This isn’t just about dementia or Alzheimers, (although it does protect against this and even reduce symptoms), running at any age is shown to keep your mind sharp.
- Spaghetti – Who doesn’t love a good carb-load? Eating more carbs increases endurance and even your mood during long runs.
- Finishing IS Winning – It doesn’t matter if you were first, last or somewhere in the middle. You can say I DID IT. My sister Mary, who got me into running, told me before I ran my first 50k that I’d already done it. All the training to even reach the starting line was a tremendous accomplishment in and of itself.
- Strength – Running builds a strong core which improves posture, and my legs are never stronger than when I’m training for a race. But it also makes me feel mentally stronger and strengthens my willpower and drive. I can do hard things!
- Confidence – A side effect of being fit, healthy, less stressed and feeling strong and powerful is, of course, a huge increase in confidence. Being overall more confident impacts all aspects of your life– work, relationships, goals, and your overall happiness level.