I LOVE TO RUN. It is my therapy, my time to pray, to create ideas, and to just have “me” time. I know that not everyone loves to run...so insert your favorite type of exercise here: "What do you lift for", "what do you zumba for", "what do you yoga for"...Whatever it is that you love, what do you do it for and is it for the right reasons?
For me I have always loved to run (I know this is foreign to some of you). I started running laps around the high school track with my dad and brother freshman year of high school, and by laps I mean like 2. I mean I didn’t start off running half marathons, let’s be real. I gradually worked myself up to eventually running 3-4 miles, but it took practice, repetition, and many years. Running has always been that one thing for me to help me escape from the messiness of the world, to help me silence all the chaos and just be able to think clearly. My family always knew I either needed food, a nap, or a good run to straighten my mood right up. Now my husband knows the drill...if I am super irritable it is time for this girl to get outside and run.
There are many things that I run for but burning calories is not on the top of the list. Don’t get me wrong, it is definitely a benefit, but running and exercise has so many more benefits than just a good calorie burn. When you start to focus on these other benefits, you may get more out of exercise than you ever thought you could. So what are some other things I run for?
1. I run to achieve goals
Over the past 4 years I have ran half marathons pretty much every year. It is a good feeling to set a goal and have a date in mind to reach my goal. Having goals makes me stay more organized and productive in my daily routines. My goal is to just reach the finish line but each race I strive to be faster (which does not always work as planned). I try setting realistic goals by signing up at least 3 months before the race so that I have enough time to train and don’t risk any injuries. I set weekly goals leading up to the race with my longer run on the weekend. Setting goals and accomplishing them makes me feel stronger, and a more confident version of myself because I have achieved something that seemed impossible before starting (and believe me, every time I start training for a half marathon even 6 miles seems impossible).
2. I run to spend quality time with my husband
My husband and I usually run together and train together for the races. I love running with him even though he doesn’t like for me to talk during it (which you all know is hard for me). There is usually at least 1 minute at the start of the run where I can say whatever I want and then I get that look that means it is time to stay quiet so that he can focus on the run. We both listen to our own music but having my husband, my supporter with me gives me confidence and reassurance when the miles get longer and tougher. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t need him with me to go for a run and I use to prefer not to run with anyone, but long runs are so much more enjoyable with a partner in crime. These silent runs create a bond between us. There is an unspoken happiness that radiates throughout our run and a proud feeling that we have for one another as we run. It’s not all butterflies though. There are some runs where we want to kill each other because we both disagree with the route to go while running or when I want to talk and he has to take his headphones off all for me to tell him how much I like the color of the house we just passed. There are challenges. But these challenges bring us closer and once we are done running we both just start laughing about how ridiculous we were to argue in the first place.
3. I run to get better sleep
I have never been a good sleeper. I sometimes wake up at least once or twice in the night and ALWAYS, always remember my dreams. My morning usually starts with me saying the phrase, “I had the craziest dream last night,” which my husband and family now dread. When I don’t workout, getting to sleep at a reasonable hour seems impossible. I feel like the little mouse on the wheel that is tirelessly spinning. Running and exercise have helped me sleep more soundly. It helps me silence all the crazy, stressed out thoughts that run through my mind as soon as my head hits the pillow. I can’t promise that I don’t still wake up saying how crazy my dreams were but I do notice how more relaxed and at peace I am when it is time for bed.
4. I run to keep my health in check
Exercise has so many great health benefits. It helps decrease the risk of heart disease, lower triglycerides, and increase the good cholesterol (HDL) while lowering the bad cholesterol (LDL). My mom, who has always been very thin, has had high blood pressure since she was in her early 40's and has struggled with high cholesterol and high triglycerides over the past few years as well. Although I know that family history is not always an indicator that I will have the same problems or that being thin is a safe bet that I won’t have any health issues, it is good to start now keeping my health in check with exercise (especially when I am quickly approaching my 30’s, insert distraught emoji face here)
5. I run to help my mental focus
Those who know me best know that I am very easily distracted and have a hard time focusing on something for a long period of time. I am like the dog on the movie Up that says “squirrel” in the middle of sentences. The struggle is real for me. Sometimes the only way I can really focus my thoughts is when I am walking or running. I actually used to study while on the treadmill in college because it was the only way I could really hone in on what I was reading. I know this sounds crazy to some of you but I swear it works. Exercise (with a side of caffeine) helps me focus better in my daily tasks, helps me be a better listener, and helps me to follow through with my todo list each day. Sooo I would say it is pretty much a necessity for me!
These are just a few of the reasons why exercise is so great for you mentally, emotionally, and physically. What do you run for? If you don’t exercise at all right now, then maybe this gives you reasons to start now. Just start small. Just walking 15 minutes a day can be your “happy pill” for the day! Let’s all do ourselves (and others) a favor and get our dose of happy in while reaping all the other benefits that exercise has to offer!