In case you aren’t yet aware of all of the ways running can influence your life, these 10 reasons may be just the inspiration you need to get out the door. And honestly, these are just a few of the dozens of ways running can change your life. It’s OK, no thanks are needed.
1. You will become healthier.
You don’t have to commit to running a marathon (or even a half marathon) to improve your fitness. All you have to do is be consistent. If you’re a new runner, that means running 3-4 days a week while also paying heed to developing strength and recovery. If you’re an intermediate runner, it means varying your running to include long runs and faster workouts to further fitness while avoiding plateaus. It won’t happen overnight, so you have to be patient, be consistent and trust the process.
2. You will become happier.
There is probably a study or empirical data that can correlate running and happiness, and if there is not, there should be. It can start as a survey of one, simply by recognizing the fact that you’ll almost always feel better after a run than before it. The more you run and the more fit you get, the better you’ll feel about yourself. It’s all about the release of endorphins and serotonin—chemical compounds and neurotransmitters that make us more energetic, more alert and happier. Those elements are released by the brain during and after easy to moderate running (or any light to moderate exercise), which is why you’re almost always glad you went for that run—especially those runs you thought about nixing because you were too tired, too busy or too grumpy. Running won’t make your fantasies come true or cure all of your woes, but over the long term you’ll benefit from your commitment, consistency and hard work.
3. You will become more accountable.
As much as running can be a fairly free-form leisure activity, the more you get into it the more it demands accountability, precision and a sense of presence. Logging proper mileage, hitting workout times, showing up on time for a group run and forcing yourself to get out of bed an hour early are all things that will spur accountability. Not only will you learn to make time for running, you will also find yourself being more prompt and present in everyday life too.
4. You will become more ambitious.
As you run more, increase fitness and check off various goals, you’ll most likely notice a boost in self-confidence, self-esteem and self-worth. Suddenly you’ll endeavor to do even more with running: run faster to improve your best times, go to more races, run longer weekend runs, run an overseas race and even consider training for an ultra-distance race.
5. You will become more optimistic.
If you let it, running breeds excitement, positivity and success. By running consistently and committing to the goals you develop, running will create an incurable optimism that will not only make you look forward to your next run or race, but it will also make you look forward and encourage you to improve other aspects of your life. Trust me, it is contagious. Running in bad weather, running through aches and pains and running through the fatigue you feel in a race will all build positive energy that will pay off in other places. Running in frustratingly windy conditions or a rainstorm or sub-freezing weather will toughen you up and help you realize other things in life aren’t so bad.
6. You will eat better.
Whether or not you started running to lose weight and regardless of what your dietary habits are, the simple act of running consistently, and all of the positivity it brings will encourage you to make better nutritional choices. Part of that will be a conscious effort—as your physical fitness improves, so too does your mental acuity—that will help you opt away from eating too much or eating less healthy foods on a regular basis. But part of it is also subconscious. Your body will start to crave certain types of foods for the rich nutrients they contain and your brain will guide you to better choices even without you knowing it. After a few months of running, you’ll look back and be able to recognize the changes you made in your choices, even if you don’t remember consciously changing.
7. You will become a better version of yourself.
If you’re just starting out, the positive effects of running will begin immediately, even if you don’t recognize them right away. If you’re a lifelong runner, running will continue to help you become a better version of yourself. No, runners are not perfect, but the more you submit to the authenticity of running, the more you realize it contains a power bigger than yourself.
8. You will function better in everyday life.
Based on all of the above, how can you envision life not improving considerably in just about every aspect?
9. You will have more empathy.
Running breeds community and no matter if you run alone or in groups, running will make you realize a lot about your fellow humans. The first thing you’ll realize that is that running is a gift to everyone who embraces it. But you also realize that not everyone can or will embrace running. And, for a lot of runners, that helps creates a sense of empathy. When you’re more aware, you can understand other people and their unique situations better and also help and encourage other people in life, in running and in general.
10. You will run forever.
If you have a smart and balanced approach to running—in other words, running consistently without becoming obsessive about it—running can be a part of your life forever. Yes, we all slow down as we get older and running might turn into slow jogging or even fast walking later in life, but it’s not about that. (Props to those outliers who keep running fast later in life!) When it comes down to it, running is about the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other in a very purposeful manner—for health, for fun, for your own well-being and improvement and for being present with yourself every single day. For the time and effort expended, there are few things you will do in your life that will give back to you so generously.