A Simple Question With a Loaded Answer: Why Run?
Most people can’t figure out the lure of running. After all, it seems like a lot of work, a lot of sweat, and a lot of pain. So why run?
Why put your body through the hell of pounding miles under your feet? What are you trying to prove? What are you running from? Isn’t going for a walk adequate enough?
These are all questions most normal people ask.
But if you’re reading this, you’re most likely not normal. You also probably don’t want to be normal, either. After all, normal is boring. And normal is common.
Here at Drankful we’re not trying to be either one of those. We are uncommon people serving our uncommon customers.
Nonetheless, it’s important to understand why we do the things we do. That is, why we run. And why we love it.
Running is a constant game of figuring out who you actually are.
A couple of the more notable attributes you will come across are –
- How physically strong you can become
- How mentally healing it is
- The emotional/spiritual aspect of it
- There are no limits to what you can achieve
Ok, before you start rolling your eyes about another motivational speaker, let us explain…
And please allow us to explain without the use of hyperbole or making you clap your hands and repeating after me. This is the truth.
The honest, strangest, most genuine truth.
Your body, mind, and spirit can all be repaired through running.
Let’s take a look.
WHY RUN FOR YOUR BODY
It is no secret that running makes you physically strong. In fact, it’s the oldest, most primal form of a full-body exercise there is. And even though we humans have been using our bodies to run ever since we were chasing down saber-toothed tigers and woolly mammoths, it still continues to sculpt every living species that participates in it today.
How so, you ask? We’ll start with the external factors first.
Just by running for 30 minutes a day, a couple times a week, you will begin to notice your legs and your core getting more defined. With each run, your muscles are getting stronger, yet leaner at the same time. Why? That’s because when you run, you’re burning calories and you’re also burning fat. The softer areas on your body begin to tone, and you become a more powerful, healthier version of yourself.
That’s just the start of it, though. Let’s take a look at what goes on beneath the surface.
Your lungs, heart, and vascular system will also get stronger. This leads to a stronger cardiorespiratory system. By having a stronger cardiorespiratory system, you’ll develop greater aerobic endurance. When you have greater aerobic endurance, your body rewards you each time you go out for your next run. How so? Well, the next time you embark on a run at the same level and distance, it will take less energy for you to finish it. This makes for a continuous cycle of raising the bar of your own personal fitness levels, giving you more room to boost your strength, cardio, and limitations.
WHY RUN FOR YOUR MIND
Have you ever noticed that running has become the savior to many sufferers of depression, anxiety, addiction, and other mental health related struggles? That’s because running, to oversimplify it, has helped them in their journey. Some even go as far as to say it has saved their life.
But how? And why?
It’s true that running is a healthy source of relief and a great resource for a short-term mood boost. But the long-term health benefits of running are just as fascinating as the short-term.
When you go out for a run, a couple things will immediately happen. Your heart rate will go up and your breathing will get heavier. As you continue on, your body will then release these tiny neurochemicals called “endorphins” that flood into your system. These mysterious hormones called endorphins are our body’s natural way of providing us with 2 beautiful gifts –
- Pain relief
- Enhanced Pleasure
Are you kidding me? Those 2 elusive feelings alone are enough to get people out of the door and pounding the pavement. And once they begin, they’re more likely to reduce their feelings of worry and anxiety and increase their sensations of calm and control. The crazy part? This doesn’t end when the run is over. In fact, many runners feel a trickle-down effect of a boosted mood and relaxation that carries over to the rest of their day, crediting running for making them feel better, having more focus, and getting better sleep at night.
The research regarding the long term effects of consistent running is insane. To name a few of the more notable attributes, chronic runners (over time) tend to increase their chances of preserving their memory, access better learning ability, and slow down the cognitive decline that comes with aging.
Sound too good to be true? It kind of does, but then again there’s science to back it up.
To break it down, running has been found to increase the rate of neurogenesis. Neurogenesis (according to the University of Queensland) is the process in which new neurons are formed in the brain. To get more specific, the region of the brain in which neurogenesis most prevalently occurs during running is in the hippocampus, which is the area associated with learning and memory. Therefore, chronic runners can increase their chances of keeping their mind sharp and alert, and at the same time, fighting off that natural mental decline that comes with old age.
WHY RUN FOR YOUR SPIRIT
In touching on the physical and mental health benefits of running, there was something that we never once mentioned – the fact that running is hard. And if you’re just starting out, it’s easy to feel that physical discomfort and throw in the towel as quickly as you begin. However, I’m here to tell you about the beauty in sticking with it. And the rich, soul-stirring experience hidden in the weeds of persistence and endurance that can be uncovered through pounding the pavement and trails.
Running has a unique way of providing us with a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. How so? Because it is difficult. Since it’s difficult, it means we have to earn every run. Since we have to earn every run, there is greater meaning involved. In particular, a sense of reward from accomplishing and achieving a task that is tough. When you feel like you’ve accomplished something hard, it becomes very fulfilling to your spirit. After all, in order to get it done, you had to put in the work. The very real, very gritty work.
This is why people get hooked.
The more we endure, the more we will feel this sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. Alas, a whole new relationship with suffering is born. Runners know that suffering doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, it can be exhilarating and rewarding. It shows us that we can push our body’s limits and open up a whole new world of wonder and excitement. A world that does, indeed, uncover what we’re really capable of.
Which is exactly what leads us to our final point.
No, running alone is not going to cure you of all your ailments. Let’s get that straight. It’s not a magic pill, but it does create momentum.
Finding out the above attributes are great. But the greatest, most strangest reward? These same attributes are not just fleeting benefits that come and go with each run. They actually bleed into other areas of your life as well.
Intimidating and impossible goals are now more manageable than ever before. Tough things don’t seem as tough anymore. Why? Because you’re tough. You’re getting tough. With each hard run and healthy habit you pick up, another dragon gets slayed.
But it’s a process. Growth is a process. It takes a little time.
I understand that people tend to want things done yesterday. We live in the age of immediate gratification. The elusive ‘quick fix’ is tempting, but mostly unrealistic. Yes, having to wait for results is a drag. Tom Petty told us that when he let us know that “the waiting is the hardest part.”
And though Mr. Petty was right, the most important things take some time to figure out. So don’t fight the process. Instead, lean in to it. Accept this is your journey and give yourself the grace to be patient on the route to self-discovery.
Remember, there is no race when it comes to self-discovery. There is no finish line, either. It is a timeless expedition that will be unique to you, and only you. Everyone’s process will look different. Therefore, whatever you do, don’t compare and despair your journey to others. Always focus on your personal growth, and the rest will take care of itself.
So I guess if I were to summarize everything in a couple sentences, it’d be this:
Running opens the doors to your inner self. Then that inner work will begin to project outward to the rest of the world.
Let it shine.