Reasons to love running...

May 14th 2020

I wish I could tell you I fell in love with running immediately. But, it wasn’t love at first mile. My romance with running was a bit of a slow burn.

Once the soreness and fatigued faded, the love started to blossom. But, it’s a romance that’s had ups and downs. We’ve even taken a few breaks. But, I can never breakup with running.

There are many reasons why my love for running will never die. But, I will keep this brief and stick to just a few. Read on for a few of the many reasons to love running.

It is a fantastic salve for stress, anxiety, and depression.

I got into running when I was an awkward, anxious adolescent. I was uncomfortable in my own skin most of the time. Then, I found running.

Whatever troubling thoughts rattling around in my head seemed to disappear as soon as I got a mile or two under my belt. The challenges of adolescence felt less challenging. Running was a salve.

It still is today. When stress, anxiety, or the blues hits me, few things help turn things around like a few miles on the road or trail. There’s plenty of science that backs up this idea as well.

If you find yourself feeling out of sorts, try lacing up and getting a few miles in.

It makes you smarter.

While the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other may ‘appear’ simple, running actually requires more brain power than you might think. Running is an act that requires a lot of coordination. It also requires careful thought and strategy, particularly if you’re tackling a challenging long run or tough interval session.

Recent studies have shown the brains of runners have a number of different connections tied to higher level thought that you don’t see with those who are sedentary. There also is more connectivity in runners than in those who are sedentary between parts of the brain that aid in working memory, multitasking, attention, decision-making, and the processing of visual and other sensory information.

If you think about it, this only makes sense. You’re doing a lot when you run and it’s not all about your legs and your heart. The head does plenty when you run. So, you’re strengthening your mind when you lace up and hit the road (or trail).

It slows the aging process.

While Botox and all manner of cosmetic enhancements, augmentations, and ‘repairs’ might help preserve the ‘appearance’ of youth, running is actually the real deal. I’m not claiming logging a few miles can turn back time or grant you immortality. But, recent research suggests running does slow the aging process.

A recent study revealed that telomerase length and activity increased by two- to three-fold in an endurance running group compared to a sedentary group. Telomeres shorten as we age which leaves our cells vulnerable to damage. So, keeping telomeres long and active helps prevent cell deterioration.

If you want to slow the aging process and preserve your youth as long as possible, keep running.

It gets you high.

The runner’s high is real. My experience with the high has always been a wonderful feeling of peace, happiness, relaxation, and vague euphoria. Talk to just about any runner who has experienced the runner’s high and you will likely hear a similar description.

The blissful experience of the high is what keeps many runners coming back mile after mile. If you’ve never experienced it, log a few more miles and you’ll likely find yourself intoxicated.

In case you’re wondering, the runner’s high is largely attributable to the release of endocannabinoids. The impact is similar to that of cannabis. If you want to increase your odds of catching the high, try a long, slow run of 1-2 hours.