The upside of running

The other day, I wrote a blog post about how running wasn’t all ‘sunshine and endorphins‘. While out on the trails, I was thinking about the flip side of that – all the wonderful things that running has brought to my life and I figured it was only fair that I give both sides of the coin an equal airing.

So, still on a post-run endorphin high, here is the list of why running is just so brilliant:

  • It’s free. Anyone who actually runs will tell you that this a complete myth – running shoes, running clothes, event fees, fancy watches, glow in the dark bits…the list goes on. But, at it’s heart (and particularly when you get started), it doesn’t take much to get you out the door and it is possible to run very cheaply. Just not me 🙂
  • Anyone can do it. Again, not strictly true but mostly. I’m certain that the majority of people who have ever said to me ‘Oh, I can’t run’ actually could if they wanted to. You may run slowly or awkwardly but most people can actually run. As John Bingham says, you don’t need a licence and there is no test to pass – just run.
  • It makes you feel good – inside and out. Running is obviously good for you physically (and, contrary to silly people spreading rumours, it does not ruin your knees) but it is also great for your mental health. In fact, this has much more to do with why I run than anything physical. There are few of my moods that can’t be helped by some time out on the trails. Shortly after starting, I get so caught up with the whole breathing/running/not falling over triad that I have no brain space to think of anything else. A few kilometres in when this is under control, I find a bit of a zen like state descends – I’m just running and very little else matters. I’ll still be aware of other things and might even be thinking of non-running things but through a mist that can only be described as happiness. Even on a bad run, I can’t maintain a bad mood for longer than the first few kilometres.
  • You become a superhero. Again, that’s not strictly true. But you do feel like one after you conquer some big, long worked for goal. Sure, I’ve set goals before and felt good achieving them but there’s something that feels truly epic about setting big running goals; goals that scare you. And when you achieve them, you feel like you could take on anything. Or at least should be allowed to wear a cape in celebration.
  • Resilience takes on a new meaning. Runners are a tough breed. Despite sporting painful injuries, many continue to push through while muttering ‘No need to worry, just a flesh wound’. One of my most effective mantras if I happen to get a blister in the middle of a half marathon is ‘It’s only a blister. Get on with it’. And few weather events will see a run being cancelled – a bit of wind or rain is nothing. After all, we’re not made of paper.
  • The world looks different. I wasn’t really expecting this one but it really is true. I have always travelled a fair bit but, since running, view places in a different way. City parks call out for me to put my running shoes on and go exploring. Tracks off into the forest similarly beckon. And, in running them, I feel like I get to see behind the curtain of a place, peeking into the best parts the locals get to see.
  • You’re in the club. Through running, I have found myself in conversations with people who I would have no other reason to ever have the opportunity to chat to and it’s wonderful. Runners just seem to be the best sort of people – welcoming, accepting, friendly, motivating. And the running extended family that I’m part of thanks mostly to my involvement in parkrun really are the most amazing people on the planet. A big call but true.



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