“I don’t run to add days to my life, I run to add life to my days.” ~Ronald Rook
Growing up, I was always a bit on the tubby side, or, as my mum would say, “stocky.”
Old and grainy camcorder footage from the early nineties shows me at four years old, waddling sassily around the garden naked on a summer’s day. Watching the nostalgic home footage recently, I thought to myself, “Wow, I had a beer belly long before I began drinking beer.”
Apart from a couple of years playing football in my teens, competitive sports and exercise were not a huge part of my life—unless we count the frequent visits to the Chinese buffets with friends, when things got competitive as we shovelled down plate after plate to see who could eat the most.
Last year, however, after an inspiring conversation with a keen runner, my sedentary days were over.
The man was in his forties and an ultra-runner—meaning he ran distances greater than a regular marathon (26.2 miles). I became curious as he told me about a recent 100-mile running event, and wondered to myself, why would you put yourself through that, by choice? What does one get out of this running malarkey?
Having well and truly caught the running bug, I can now say I get it.
It’s well known that running is beneficial to our health and fitness, but I get so much more from the experience. Here are seven ways running helps me live my best life.
1. Through running, I take control from my mind.
Wouldn’t you rather stay at home and watch Netflix?
You’re not built for running!
Who do you think you are, Forrest Gump?
Ah, the mind.
On days I normally run, I can guarantee thoughts like these will surface, luring me to stay in my comfort zone so they can try and shame me later on for not running.
Don’t get me wrong, there are days where the kind thing to do is to cancel a run—if I’m hurting physically or it’s too hot—but that’s not usually why I encounter internal resistance before and while running.
C’mon, that’s fair enough for today, my mind whispers.
“No, we’re digging deeper and going further,” I reply.
Our minds will always try to hold us back, but we don’t have to act on every thought. We can become more aware of when our mind is attempting to limit us, and, if we want to, dig deep and keep moving forward.
2. Running reminds me that the hardest part of any worthy pursuit is just starting.
Once I’m outside and running, the initial resistance disappears, and I just get on with…