Growing up I always thought that running was just something you did to lose weight and this mentality had a huge affect on my approach to hitting the trail. After constantly hearing about this mythical ‘runners high’ I was determined to break through the barrier and become a runner – and while I wouldn’t yet feel comfortable branding myself as a runner, I can proudly say I do run and I do love it.
What makes it so special though? Although it benefits everyone differently, there are a few things which I’ve experienced that sound like fairly common side-effects.
Running is the ultimate confidence booster because it shows you that you can achieve the impossible – or what you previously conceived to be impossible. If you run the same route, or time your distances after a while you’ll begin to see your improvement and when you do it’s a big confidence boost. Running also releases a chemical called endorphin’s which make you happier and therefore less anxious (i.e. more confident) – why do you think people say running is a drug!
Most teens are difficult but I was a particular pain in the ass growing up. I had a bad attitude when it came to fitness and if it was too hard I’d invariably give up. Running is far more mentally challenging than physically at times. One of my running mantras is ‘it only becomes a run when you don’t want to do it’. By continually pushing yourself to keep going you begin to change your mentality and develop a certain amount of mental agility. You can train your body to cross the finish line, but if you’re mind says no – you’ll never cross it.
As I came into my early twenties I found myself flying off the handle and getting stressed or upset at the smallest thing. Running has massively calmed me down as a person and helped me develop a much more laid back and positive attitude – expecting the best out of myself and others instead of the worst. I prefer not to listen to music on my runs, at first it was because I found it hard to regulate my breathing and get into a good rhythm, but now it’s just for some nice peace and quiet.
Appreciation for the bigger-picture
Being outside by yourself gives you the necessary time to reflect on what’s going on in your life. There are so many devices or things that can occupy down time. When was the last time you just sat on the sofa in silence? Not reading, not scrolling down the Instagram feed and not watching Netflix. Well for me this is never! Anytime I have the opportunity for quiet time at home, I fill it with reading or watching a series. That’s great for relaxing and unwinding but it doesn’t give you any time to yourself … not really. When you’re out for a run you’re essentially giving yourself the opportunity to think, reflect and step back to look at the bigger picture.
This aspect of running held me back for a long time and led me to think that running wasn’t worth the effort (boy oh boy, how wrong was I). Thankfully discipline isn’t something you’re born with, it’s something you learn and that I did. It takes discipline to go for a run when you’re tired or feeling a bit lazy and the more you do it the more disciplined you become. But even on your very first run, it takes discipline and drive to not give up and run the mile you’re in.
I’d love to hear other peoples experience with running and how it’s changed them! Do you have any additions you’d make to this list?