If anyone would have said to me a year ago that I would soon be signing up for a half marathon I would have most likely scoffed and sworn at them (lots). Do you know what though, they were right!
The benefits to running really are endless. Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be one of those preaching articles telling you that you must run etc . You will either run or you won’t and no amount of people telling you how great it is will change your mind.. I just wanted to spread the word a little bit as running has helped me no end and has become a huge part of my life.
You don’t have to be born a runner or be fit and in shape. Running doesn’t judge and no matter your size or shape, disability or even age you need but to try. All you need to do it stick with it for a few weeks at which point you will be able to run a certain distance without feeling like you want to die 😉
Here goes and in no particular order as it the priorities change from person to person;
1) Overall health – even just running a couple of times a week your body will thank you. You will start to lose weight (if you have weight to lose providing of course you are not eating loads of crap food) and tone up, require less visits to the docs as runners are known for less injuries and maladies, gain a boost in memory (scientifically proven), build stronger bones and hugely increase your stamina which good for many things and not just for running if you get my drift ;-).
Trust me, a couple of weeks into running and you will start to feel the great effects. For me, at first, the only benefit was when I stopped however, your strength will build and so will your core making each run easier!
2) You can do it anywhere – you really can run anywhere and it is free! You don’t need any fancy equipment you just need to be willing and have a pair of old joggers, a T-shirt and some trainers. They don’t have to be top of the range at all. You may wish to upgrade after you have been running for a while but providing you have a few bits at home already, there are no start costs. You need no membership! No matter the time, the weather or the location, you can run! Bright and sunny, pop on your shoes and go for a run – road, trail, fields, down by the river – there are no limitations… Pissing down with rain, so what, it won’t kill you – man up and get out there. You will feel great after and be so proud of yourself. Away visiting friends or away for the weekend for a romantic getaway with your other half, you can still run you just have to get up a little earlier. Even on holiday you can run and sometimes these are the best runs as the scenery can be stunning. Like I said, anywhere!
Just remember to take water with you and stay hydrated, especially in warmer weather.
3) Make new friends – it doesn’t matter where you run or what time of the day, there is pretty much always someone else out and about. Even at 6am on a remote field where you don’t expect to see anyone. Dog walkers, other runners, you name it and they are out. This is great as if you go out often you start seeing these people and start striking a conversation with them. You never know, the runner that you pass may live close by and perhaps you can start running together. Running alone can be wonderful but equally, running with a partner can help the miles tick by and go faster.
Social runs are also great for meeting new people. Take ParkRun for example, runs every Saturday at the same time each week and more often than not the same people will go week in and week out to better themselves and their PB. You start to chat with people and then you find yourself with them the following week and it just becomes the norm to start running with your new friends as if you have known them forever.
You can even join running clubs who often run social activities outside of running. Awesome!
4) Live Longer – it has been proven that active people, especially regular runners live longer than those folk who don’t. Less injuries and you live longer – winner winner!
5) Combat stress – if you have had a really shitty day and feel stressed to the max and need some time out, to yourself just to relax and think things through then you will be amazed at how much a run can help. Have you hear of Runners High before? Its real I promise you! Running can help clear you mind of the crap that you are trying to get away from or, it can help you to brainstorm and come up with solutions. When you have run until you have the desired result, when you stop you will feel amazing. Happier and motivated to do what needs to be done.
6) Sleep better – I am not sure if this works for everyone however, it is said that running encourages a much higher quality of sleep. You may find that you may not need to sleep so long but you will feel much better rested than if you slept for 10 hours.
I am a terrible insomniac anyways and can never sleep for long – I have to say though that I can now survive on less sleep and function just as well as if I had had a full night!
7) Get better acquainted with where you live and with nature – there is no better way to explore where you live then by popping out for a run and what can be more hippy than exploring the great outdoors and being one with nature. You can find some gems of
places where you least expect them. After you have explored your area then it is time to hop in the car and take yourself to somewhere new. Take a look on Google maps for somewhere that looks like a good place and then go for it. Canal paths, nature walks, through the woods and even your local park. Your eyes can soak up all the new sights and you get to see new places. I have seen some amazing sun rises and sun sets when out and about. When you go for an exploration run it is all about impulse. The fab lady that I often run with loves to explore and even if we have a route set out, it never sticks as she will always find a new path that looks better a hill that she thinks might give us a better view. Often do we stop and marvel at the beauty around us. It’s not all about the running but about enjoying yourself.
Even better when you find a nice little cafe where you can stop for a cuppa and some brekkie or even a cake!
8) Energy boost – feeling rather lethargic before a big day or feel naff after a day at work then lace up and out you go. One little run of a mile or more can decrease fatigue and give you an energy boost.
9) Eat, eat and eat some more – during training and prep for a race or the likes, runners are told to carb load. This basically means eat lots and lots of carbs. Increased carb intake can help your performance.. You don’t need to tell me twice. You don’t want to overdo it though or it will most likely add a pound or two over time. You will also notice that the more you run, the hungrier you will get which is fab as it means that your metabolism is going strong. You burn lots of calories from going for a run so there is no need to feel so guilty for having that wee cake with your cuppa or that slice of pizza that you wouldn’t normally have. Go for it, have that pudding when you go out for dinner. Providing that it is all in moderation alongside a healthy diet then you are good to stuff your face 🙂 This is one of my most favourite things about running as I just LOVE food!
10) Boost mood and self esteem – now, don’t get me wrong, there are some really miserable runners out there but I don’t judge as we never know what another person is going through but, the majority of runners tend to be glass half full kind of people, a little crazy but……
I think that it is physically impossible to get back from a run and not feel good. Not only are you happier but you feel so good about yourself. Even if it was a horrible gruelling run you will be so pleased that you persevered and did it.
Try entering yourself into a race – it doesn’t have to be anything big but set yourself a goal and work towards it. There is no feeling better than making it through the finish line. Self esteem and sense of self achievement is amazing.
I have to admit, it was actually quite hard for me to choose 10 things about running. Not because it was hard to find good reasons, just that there are so many to choose from. Nevertheless, I chose 10 that I can relate to and that I have experienced at some stage.
Still not sure? All I can say is try it. What have you got to lose? You never know, you may just find yourself a new hobby that you love just like I did.
From couch to 5k where I really struggled (ever seen Phoebe from friends run? Well that was me!), I have now signed up for the a Half Marathon in October which I am currently training for. I am writing this after a 10 mile training run and so I am feeling many things from the above list right now – most of all, I feel great, oh and hungry!