Running has brought so many benefits to me that out on a run today I started thinking about them. No matter what your reason for starting running, you will soon recognise some of these….
What are the benefits of running?
Benefit 1 – You learn that motivation is a muscle that needs exercising.
When you get into running, particularly if you are following a training plan you finally understand that motivation isn’t always there. Sometimes you need to lace up your trainers and just start running. Once you are out running that motivation comes to you. If you wait until you are motivated to run, you won’t run…..especially when it is lashing down with rain outside.
I have asked people of all running abilities about motivation and they all agree that sometimes you need to just get up and get out….the motivation then comes once you are running.
It is a great benefit though, it impacts on all areas of your life. You become better at just doing stuff and not waiting for the motivation fairy to appear (she never does….).
Benefit 2 – You learn not to judge a book by its cover.
People will surprise you, especially in marathons. Just as you think you are doing really well you will be overtaken at mile 25 by an 60-year-old in fancy dress.
Not all speedy 5k runners are big and strong and not all marathoners are wiry and slim. You will find all shapes, sizes, colours and abilities out running. It is one of the wonderful things about our sport.
It has taught me a lot about judging others and also myself. We aren’t all genetically gifted to run but hard work pays off and I have seen some incredible results from those who at first glance you would imagine that they could run to the bus stop, let alone a marathon…. so humbling.
Benefit 3 – Weight loss and improved body image.
This is one of the biggest reasons a lot of people take up running as a hobby and what a great benefit, weight loss is.
One of my friends Sarah put it beautifully ‘The first month of running I could feel everything wobbling, the second month of running everything jiggled rather than wobbled and now after six months the only thing I feel moving is my bunch of keys in my pocket’.
It doesn’t matter where you are at when you start running, after you have been running for a while you start to notice these benefits happening:
- More tone to the muscles.
- Slimmer around the waist area.
- Clothes feel a little looser.
- You feel stronger all over.
But the most important thing?
5. When you look in the mirror you feel PROUD of yourself.
Benefit 4 – Caring less about what people think of you.
A common concern from people wanting to take up running is that they worry about going out in public, in lycra.
I promise you that once you start running you will care less and less about what people think of you. Actually people are often too preoccupied about their own day-to-day life to even give a second thought as to what you look like when out running.
I guess I am encouraging you to just feel the fear and do it anyway – you may even find that you get smiles, thumbs up and encouragement from people as you trot by. If you live anywhere near Richmond, Surrey and are too self conscious to go out….send me a message and come out with me!
Read The Magic Art Of Not Giving A F*ck by Sarah Knight it is not directly related to this but a great read to focus your mind on the stuff you want to do and the people you want to give your time to. A game-changer for me (and the title makes me giggle!)
I cannot even begin to list the people who inspired me to start running, too many to mention.
I met people who were really into it and they were so encouraging. When I got back into running last year after a long break from it, there were so many runners who said “I will come with you if you like?”
The wonderful thing is that when you are a regular runner and people see how great you look and feel they get inspired too. A few days ago someone said “I started running because of you”.
I will never forget those words…..
Benefit 5 – You actually get more done in a day.
When I first started running I would worry how I was going to fit it in to my already busy days. Now I have found that running regularly means I get more done and not less. My brain is a lot sharper, I organise my time around my running and make the most of the time I have.
I believe there are several reasons for this:
- When you are out running your brain throws stuff up to think about and resolve – sometimes the trickiest problems can have such clarity when out on a run. I find I do my best writing about an hour after I have come back – the ideas and memories have popped into my head and are ready to be put down on paper.
- Running has often been described as a ‘moving meditation’. A lot of top business people I know swear by meditation to then focus the brain for great work. If you find that wonderful laser-beam focus then you get an incredible amount of stuff done, in less time.
- Runners World in an article about boosting brain power wrote ‘A a 2012 study found that at least moderately fit people did better on memory tests than those who were less fit (or not fit at all). This adds to earlier research that links running to a better ability to focus, to juggle multiple tasks, and to make distinctions’. I am able to remember much more after I have been out running – the benefit is that I can prioritize what needs doing rather than wasting time on unnecessary tasks (like endless Facebook scrolling!).
Benefit 6 – Having more energy, not less.
I have a little foreword on this one…. When you just start out running, when your body is getting used to this new activity you may feel a little more tired.
When you start running frequently and your body adapts you find you have more energy and not less.
I know right? I still can’t get my head round this but it is true. I now find that on my rest days I feel sluggish, a little cranky and can’t wait to get out running again. After a run (even a long run) I can feel energy coursing through my veins. Sure my legs might get a little stiff sometimes, especially after a hilly run but overall I feel energised and awake. A short run first thing even beats caffeine for waking me up (and I LOVE my coffee).
This benefits me as I then have more energy for work too.
Benefit 7 – It is one of the cheapest forms of exercise.
All you need to do is lace up your shoes and get out there. No gym membership, no expensive equipment.
There is always the option to go out and buy fancy gadgets and expensive clothing if that rocks your boat but it is all optional and by no means essential. It is one of the beautiful things about the sport…there is nothing and no-one to rely on apart from you. This not only benefits your wallet but it means it is the perfect exercise to do when you travel too.
Benefit 8 – You will make some incredible friends.
This is a photo I took before a half marathon in February with lovely friends from my running club
This is one of the biggest benefits in my humble opinion. I have met some life-long friends in the running community. People who don’t actually live that far from me who I would never have met by chance. Runners are bound by this understanding and kind spirit to others. They want you to do well, they want some company out there pounding the pavement and they all have stories to share.
It can be daunting when you first start to go and join a club so maybe start by joining an online community.
My favourite in the U.K. is Run Mummy Run they are so encouraging and it is like having a group of friends supporting every milestone you get through. Highly recommended.
When you are ready to join a club then check out their Facebook page to see how supportive and encouraging they are and message the organiser. My local club is like one big running family and going out with them has changed my running experience in so many ways.
It brings a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘Friends With Benefits’.
Have you experienced any other benefits that aren’t listed here? I would love to hear about them.
I hope this encourages you to get out there and to give running a try.