Like all great loves we’ve had our ups and downs. However, from my first park run in 2017 to now training for a half marathon, I can think of many reasons as to why day after day I choose to lace up my trainers and go for a run. We all know that sport is good for us, running in particular, improving not only our cardiovascular system, but building strong bones and strengthening muscles. However physical benefits aside, there is so much more to why I run.
I love running because of the sense of achievement that comes even with the smallest milestones. I love the exhaustion that comes with a hard session knowing that I was able to push my body to new limits. I love getting up early in the morning and running when the roads are empty. I love winter runs when my fingers feel like they are turning blue and I can see each individual breath, yet the rhythm of my steps keeps the blood flowing through my body. I love running because however much repetitive it may seem, even the shortest runs always leave me a bit more clear minded than before.
Running is simple, it’s great because all it takes is to go outside and step one foot in front of the other. No fancy equipment is required, just a pair of trainers and you’re ready to go. No need to drive to any specific location just open the door and head in any direction, at your own time and pace. In reality like all things its not always this simple. Having watched Eliud Kipchoge make running history with the first sub 2-hour marathon, it really put into perspective the scientific input involved in exceeding boundaries of what is thought to be humanly possible. Although its already known that Kipchoge is an extraordinary athlete, with the help of science he was able to push the human body to its limit. The military style operation, along with perfectly calculated conditions made a seemingly impossible goal possible. However, despite all the technology when it comes down to it, the running still remains the same, all starting with putting one foot in front of the other. My achievements may not be this grand, however, running still gives a unanimous euphoria with every small amount of progress that is made. I am still amazed by the adaptations that the human body allows for, small and big.
Talking of euphoria, another reason to love running is the famous ‘runners high’ that is often talked about. Without getting too scientific, for decades scientists have associated the phenomenon with and increased level of endorphins in the blood, however, new German research has actually shown that the body increases in endocannabinoids. This reduces stress and anxiety, having similar affects to that of cannabis. (https://www.pnas.org/content/112/42/13105 ) Unfortunately for newbies this is more likely to affect experienced runners, however I’d say this is a good motivation to keep going. So, remember that if you really hate running now give it a few months and you may feel differently.
On a more simple level the will to run is innate, although logically we may think the opposite. Running is hard, it requires effort and pain which doesn’t sound like something joyful. However, the facts are, that just in the UK alone at least 2 million of us choose to run each week. Maybe I just speak for myself when I say this but running gives a sense of childlike freedom. The pleasure of stretching out my legs as I sprint down a hill, feeling the pull of gravity and the sharp air in my lungs is incomparable. Running brings people together, children and adults alike. The running community is welcome with open arms no matter how fast or slow you may be. A great example of this is Park run, a huge weekly event that brings together runners of all standards to do a free timed 5k. I’ve run over 20 Parkrun’s and each time the spirit remains the same, just this week my local parkrun celebrated its 200th event which ended up with post-run cake. It brings friends and strangers together to celebrate running. Although I’m guilty of sometimes treating it as a race ultimately parkrun is just a fun way to run and just having someone ahead or behind you is a motivation to keep pushing yourself that little bit further.
So, whether you’re a seasoned runner or a complete beginner I hope this post gives you a bit of inspiration to pick up your trainers and head out the door this week.