We all know the typical benefits of running: cardiovascular health, weight loss, better sleep, et cetera. You know why you should, but you probably aren't convinced. Here are 11 great reasons to start running that you haven't heard before.
1. You were born to run
Christopher McDougall studies the mysterious tribe called the Tarahumara, or "The Running People," in his book "Born to Run." The Tarahumara regularly run races of over 100 miles, including the men, women, children, and the elderly in the hot Copper Canyons of Mexico, and without running sneakers. McDougall explores the human physiology, pointing out that our springy foot structure, ability to sweat and breathe simultaneously, ability to run long distances and much more all prove that humans are perfectly designed to be running machines. If you don't want to listen to me, listen to your own biology telling you to run for your life!
2. There's no barrier to entry
It's free. You don't have to find or join a club or team. You don't need any fancy equipment or sporting goods. You don't have to learn any rules. You don't even need to be "athletic" or like sports. You can do it anywhere, anytime. If you can walk, you can run. Should I keep going?
3. Runner's high is real, and it feels amazing
In fact, the euphoric, elated feeling and a reduced sense of pain many people experience after running is linked to the same neurotransmitters, called endocannabinoids, that are found in cannabis. That basically means a runner's high is your brain actually producing its own cannabis compounds. if you don't believe me, check out the loads of studies that confirm this phenomenon, like this one.
4. You'll enhance your self-discipline
I know this doesn't sound super sexy, especially to college students, but discipline is a really valuable skill. When it's 7 a.m. on a Sunday and you really don't feel like leaving your bed to jog around the block but you do it anyway... that's some immense willpower! Over time, it gets easier to get through the hard part, because your run becomes an intrinsic reward. The inner monologue gets stronger: you know you will never regret going out for a run, but you might regret not going. Learning how to discipline yourself purely for your own sake is a magical thing, and is entirely different from being compelled to do something because you have to.
5. It encourages you to spend more time outside
Running gives you a reason to stop sitting down, staring at a screen in a room with artificial light and stale air. It's time to immerse yourself in the environment around you. No matter where you are, you'll appreciate the fresh air, scenery, and sunlight. Being outside gives our eyes a healthy break from close-up viewing, our skin a dose of Vitamin D, and our lungs a detox. Okay, I think you get the point.
6. It teaches you how to set goals and motivates you to reach them
When you first start running and you have zero experience, you might feel completely overwhelmed. A good strategy is to set small milestones for yourself. For example, your first goal might be to run 5 minutes without stopping. Once you reach that, then move it up to 8 minutes, and so on. You don't have to have a complete training plan, but it can be rewarding to see how you're improving and making those gains.
7. It creates a sense of freedom
It's indescribable, but you'll fall in love with the feeling of flying on the pavement. Do you know what it's like to run past some walkers? Or better yet, people in a car?
8. It's basically a moving meditation
If you've ever wanted to start meditating, but you don't want to just sit down and close your eyes for a chunk of time, you should try running. The repetitive motion, the slight breeze hitting your skin, and the rhythm of your feet tapping the ground under you all come together to create a highly mindful and meditative experience. it's the perfect way to de-stress after a long day or start off the day with a clear mind. And recent research has shown that running fights the negative impacts of stress, such as lower memory retention. Hey, if you're not going to run for your heart, at least do it for your brain.
9. You'll learn that you are capable of much more than you believe
There is nothing quite like the feeling of finally being able to do something you couldn't do before. You will also notice that this confidence in your abilities will start to positively affect other aspects of your life. Think you can't ace that organic chemistry exam next week? Well, two weeks ago you couldn't run a mile under 10 minutes, and now you can. So, yeah, you can do it.
10. You will literally feel the difference
Picture this: you started running a few weeks ago. it was pretty much like torture the first few runs, but now, well, you're flourishing. You have more energy, and you find that your focus is better and your thinking is clear and sharp. After a few weeks, you might realize that the days you start with a morning jog are more productive and organized. You feel happier and more invigorated after running, not exhausted and depleted, like you thought you would be. Yes, you know regular cardio exercise is good for your heart, but the way it makes you feel, all the time, is like living on a higher plane of existence. Isn't that worth a try?
11. No matter how slow you're going, you're still lapping the people on the couch
And there's no going back. You're welcome.