This post is a bit of a continuation from last week’s post about compulsive exercise.
I thought I would talk a little bit about my personal relationship with running and exercise, why I run and what it means to me.
It also relates to this post about enjoying running when you aren’t training for anything.
I grew up very athletic. In fact, I’ve always been into sports.
I played little league baseball, basketball and soccer growing up. I tried karate and dance, but neither of those spoke to me in the same way as team sports. When I got to high school, I continue to play baseball.
My freshman year, I was the only girl on the boy’s freshman baseball team.
Sophomore year, I made the transition to softball (which was totally weird for me at first), but I figured I’d have more of a future in softball, and played that throughout the rest of highschool and into college.
After college, I wanted to find a way to stay active and “stay in shape.” Running seemed like an easy way to do so.
I could do it whenever I wanted and on my own time. And to be honest, right out of college, I did enjoy running but I also looked at it as a way to “maintain weight.”
While I never tried to actively lose weight, I cringe now associating running with weight, but that was all I knew as a young 21-year-old.
Now, my relationship with running (and exercise) is so much more authentic, fluid and true. I run because I love it.
I run no matter what my body looks like or how it will change.
So, I’m sharing these reasons why I love running in hopes that it can help you find what form of movement you enjoy.
It definitely does not have to be running, and you can fill in the blank with something else.
Maybe it’s yoga, crossfit, HIIT workouts, pick up basketball or soccer, or spin classes, or gardening, or what have you.
There is even some research on running (and other forms of exercise) on improved attention span, verbal memory, executive function and thinking skills.
This is an interesting article in The Guardian that talks about running and creativity.
For me, I find that running stimulates and inspires new ideas. It helps me get excited about things, whether it’s an event or gathering I have coming up, a project I want to do, or a blog post I want to write.
This is one of the ways I truly feel running brings out the best in me.
If I’m torn or stressed about something, going for a run can help me work it out in my head. Or, if there’s a difficult conversation I want to have or some hurtful thoughts I have, running helps me organize them beforehand.
However, the caveat here is that, like with food, running probably shouldn’t be your ONLY mechanism for coping with stress and hard feelings. I wouldn’t recommend turning to running or exercise every time you’re stressed.
That could lead to a tarnished relationship with exercise.
While exercise can be a reliable way to cope with and reduce stress, it’s important to consider other outlets sometimes, too.
We all crave social connection with people who share similar interests. It’s why new moms form mom groups, or people join bible studies.
As humans, we seek and crave connection, and when we can relate to people it deepens that connection on so many levels.
I do enjoy running with others when time allows. But, also, even just having conversation with strangers who happen to be runners feels easier.
It’s easy to talk about the routes you run, the races you’ve done, your training, etc. And this is coming from an introvert!
Yep, endorphins. You’ve probably experienced that mood boost before after a long run or a good quality workout. I think some of this ties into my ideas and creativity. If I’m feeling good, I feel on top of the world.
I feel like I can conquer anything, and I may be more likely to jump on board for crazy ideas.
I just feel more relaxed after I run, especially if it’s the beginning of the day. Maybe you can relate? I feel that I can go into other situations in my day feeling more prepared, have more patience and think more clearly on days that I run. And drink coffee.
It can also keep you motivated to working towards your goals. I’m the kind of person who likes to start things and not necessarily see them through. There’s so much to be doing constantly.
So, I start something and am very diligent at first, and then I fall off. I think many of us do this. Anyway, with running, if you’re training for a race or goal, it’s more motivating to follow through, especially if you have a time or performance goal.
You can increase your dedication by running with other runners or finding community as well because you’ll have more support.
Running teaches me discipline. While I may feel overwhelmed with all I have to do, other runners have the same amount of time in each day and they make time.
It helps me evaluate other things I’m doing and reflecting on if they are truly bringing me joy and a good use of my time. I know running and other forms of exercise leave me feeling uplifted and make me a better person, so they are a good use of my time.
I don’t really know how to explain this in any other way except that running makes me feel like “me.” I’m sure other runners can relate to this statement and understand what I mean.
If it’s been a few days without a run, I start to feel “off.” My patience and temper are shorter. I’m not the wife, friend or mother I want to be.
In part, I think this is due to the buildup of stress and tension. On these days, it’s important I try to incorporate some other forms of self-care and stress-relief, such as a bath, some light yoga or stretching, meditating or just some quiet time to myself.
Note: I am referring to when I want to run but am not able to fit it in my day. On days I don’t have the energy, motivation or desire to run, I don’t share the same sentiments.
By this, I mostly mean sites and exploring new places. When traveling, I always make it a priority to fit at least one run in to run in a new setting. I’ve seen so much more through running than I ever would through sitting in a car.
The world is a beautiful place, and seeing it on foot is one of the best ways to find the hidden crevices, focus in on the details and minutiae of our daily lives, and appreciate nature.
Why do you run? What has running brought you? Where has been your favorite place to run?