By Heather Nelson
Here’s some of the responses I’ve got since committing to running a marathon: “You’re crazy!” “I get bored after running a mile!” “Well…good luck!” “A marathon?! Really?!”
The words of encouragement and well wishes make the 26.2 miles seem more real, daunting. I’ve started to feel more pressure, and I thought to myself, “Why am I running a marathon?”
It’s not entirely about the 26.2 miles. Sure, I want to complete a marathon in my lifetime, but it’s about how I feel when I run. This is something that most of my friends haven’t considered when I’ve opened up about running. I always feel crazy for liking something that a lot of people seem to despise. And, in all honesty, I don’t love every run. But running is just one form of exercise I’ve really learned to appreciate. It makes me feel good…
So, here are the reasons why I run (even if running sounds despicable to you):
- It boosts my self-esteem. There’s nothing quite like exceeding all expectations one set for herself. Two years ago, I never imagined being able to run more than four or five miles. I never would’ve run outside or signed up for races. Finishing a run leaves me feeling high — and that positive energy lasts for hours afterward. Runner’s high is real!
The greater the endorphin surge in these brain areas, the more euphoric the runners reported feeling. — from ‘How to Achieve a Runner’s High’
2. It combats depression/reduces stress. Depression takes away my desire to move. Gearing up for a run is normally the last thing I want to do when I’m not feeling my best, but I lace up my Brooks anyway. Running helps manage my depression. Acting opposite to my emotion is just one way I attempt to end the negative cycle. Distance runs help me to combat problems nagging at me — sometimes I simply acknowledge the thoughts and other times I actively search for a solution. Short, speed runs are perfect for clearing up aggression and tension.
3. I sleep better. The nights that I get the best sleep? Nights after I’ve exhausted myself with a run. I’m actually able to turn off my brain and just sleep.
4. It builds confidence. As mentioned before, I’ve achieved more than I ever thought possible with running. I solely compete with myself in an attempt to continually improve. Running allows me to grow stronger, more empowered with each step. It’s as simple as that.
5. Running has taught me to be mentally tough. There’s nothing worse than running against the wind (except maybe humidity). A runner’s mind is forced to adapt and focus on overcoming obstacles. It’s easy to concentrate on the negative. Training the mind to dispel doubts is a runner’s biggest strength.
Running isn’t just great for physical health, it’s a great exercise for mental health, too. This is why I run.