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Why RUNNING is for YOU (and everyone else)!

The benefits of running are impossible to discuss in singularly prioritized list. Just like every snowflake, each runner is uniquely different with a variety of needs being met by participation in our sport. If you read 100 articles or books, you will find a different TOP TEN list of running benefits. This is why running is for everybody and every “body.” If you need a few reasons to start or continue to lace up your shoes and push yourself to new limits, here is my top SEVEN reasons why I consider running the most universal activity for self-improvement.


Running Extends Your Life: Quite literally, running can be the reason you live longer. No warehouse exists that would hold all of the health benefits of running. If you need research or scientific evidence, then search the reasons why running lowers your blood pressure, reduces fat and other harmful elements in your body, builds muscle, expands aerobic capacity, improves cardiovascular fitness, strengthens bones, improves cognitive function, and increases the body’s immunity to disease. Simply put, some running is always better than no running.


Running is Cheap and Accessible: The only equipment you need is a pair of running shoes. Some running systems and theories even say you don’t need that. You can run virtually anywhere. The beauty of running is that you can explore and enjoy your environment, whether in an urban setting cruising through the city streets or a more nature rich rural setting of country roads and trails. People run on cruise ships, indoor tracks, athletic fields, beaches, treadmills, mountain ranges, desserts, forests, or concrete jungles. Accessibility is limitless and runners run day and night, rain or shine, hot or cold, for minutes or hours.


Running Improves Mental Health: Integrating any type of consistent training can help alleviate stress and anxiety.  Running has been proven to successfully combat depression and releases specific endorphins which have a similar impact as anti-depression medications. Running also improves sleep patterns which positively impacts our mental state and moods.


Running Helps You Lose or Maintain a Healthy Weight:  This benefit is the most obvious reason for many people becoming runners. Running is a great way to lose or stay at a heathy weight for most people. Healthy running programs will allow one to find a perfect and healthy weight without losing more than is necessary. Since running builds muscle, after excess weight is burned away, the body will begin to replace it with strong and powerful muscle fibers for increased agility and fitness.


Running is a Powerful Self-Esteem Builder: Since every runner is different, personal goals are just that…very personal. When a person achieves a goal, they increase a belief in positive self-image.  As we achieve, we believe. Years of running and coaching have given me thousands of examples of positive transformations which have occurred before my very eyes. Runners become better students, more supportive friends and family members, and eternally positive people. In short, when runners achieve, their confidence increases. When confidence increase, limits expand.


Running Has No Limits to Participation:  We have all participated or spectated at a local community 5k race. One thing is evident…there is NO BENCH in our sport. Runners range from toddlers in the Pee Wee Race to the 90-100 age division. Participants are elite Gazelle-like athletes to beginners who Run-Walk-Run their way to the finish line. Running events offer categories for adaptive athletes, intellectually-challenged athletes, blind/low vision, deaf, wheelchair, larger-bodied, illness survivors, and other recognized categories. For runners who want to remain competitive, most events in road racing, track and field, cross country, and other race-based challenges offer age divisions for the youngest to oldest entries. Runners are runners for life when most other sports have an expiration date for structured competition and recognition categories. You can find local, league, national and world records in running for almost all ages, unlike many other sports where many “age out”.


Running IS Community: Despite being one of the most universal activities in the world, runners consider themselves part of a very exclusive community. When we embark on local road trips, cross country or international travel, we have a hard time passing up a chance to walk into the local running shop. We consider it sacrilegious to pass up the opportunity to see how much the same shoe cost in our neighborhood compared to any other location. We crave a new running cap or tee shirt from a cool boutique shop in a far way place.  We pursue the community board for races and running events. We just want to “connect” with the surrounding running tapestry. We create our favorite running groups, sometimes varied based on the challenge of the day. We unite through enjoyed suffering and runner’s high. We reconnect with old teammates, maintain competitive relationships with running foes for decades, and love the post-race party celebrating community.


Regardless of your WHY, running is a way of life.  You may run for the physical benefits or social gifts it offers. You may lace up to challenge yourself or in preparation for beating a competitor. You may run because you can or because someone says you cannot. All of these reasons are valid and sit among many more that were not discussed. The beauty of running exists in the simplicity of getting started and the complexities of keeping it going. It becomes a foundation for self-motivation and personal achievement. It is our relief from hardships and never-ending cause of joy.


Happy Running!

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