Sunday, December 30, 2007
3 The OTHER Benefits of Running (Besides Weight Loss/Maintenance!)
As promised, I'd like to touch upon the OTHER benefits of running -- that is, aside from weight loss/management. Namely, I'd like to discuss some of the great positive outcomes I've observed that are a direct result of becoming & being a runner & living "la vida loca-motion." ;-)
OK, here goes:
(1) Increased energy, aerobic fitness, strength, flexibility, & stamina. Yes, blah, blah, blah. Everyone knows these ones already.
(2) Better skin, & a healthy glow, inside & out.
Color in the cheeks means less money spent on blush. Hahaha, just kidding. Also, in most cases, "perpetual perspiration" = less pimples, or atleast perspiring from exercise usually does that. ;-) There's something to the idea that all of the impurities from your body have to go somewhere, so what better way to keep your skin clear & clean?!
A healthy glow IS something to glow about. ;-) Yes, while you may or may not notice this "side-effect" immediately, other people often will, especially those who haven't seen you in a while. (While I'm of an analytical mindset, I'm not one for advocating too much self-analysis of oneself in the mirror!) And people really do notice the difference, especially if you workout regularly. I've had several people tell me how "healthy" & "radiant" I look, which probably has as much to do with external factors like my glowing complexion as it does with internal ones like my feelings of accomplishment & a much-improved outlook! And both are the result of my running.
(3) Confidence, self-esteem, & yes, sex appeal. Yes, we runners are sexy lot, plain & simple. ;-)
(4) Mo' mojo. If I have to explain this, I might have to change the parental rating on this blog. ;-) Of course, there's no rating, but you get the gist. That might give more meaning to the slogan, "Runners do it better." Heheheheheh. But enough about that.
(5) Character through perseverance. Sticking it out in the snow, ice, heat, & the slush really are character-building. And running a marathon is a life-changing experience, or so I'm told (because I haven't run one yet & am still in training to run my first marathon ever). You want to talk about grit & character-building, try running a marathon. It'll make you feel like anything else is a cake-walk. ;-) People say they feel like they can accomplish anything after completing a marathon. Wonder how they feel after completing an ultramarathon?! Bet they probably feel like they could walk on the moon without a space helmet. Heheheheh.
(6) A sense of accomplishment. We runners know that it just feels great to commit to something & see it through.
(7) Self-respect & the respect of others. For us runners, the daily act of running -- just pounding out the miles, regardless of our pace -- is worthy of respect. It's not just our large or extraordinary triumphs over adversity, but also our daily accomplishments, which make us who we are as runners. So let's humbly "wear" our running as a badge of honor & esteem!
(8) Running is a catalyst that causes you to wake up to other parts of your life. It makes you stand up & take stock of yourself, your situation, & everything & everyone else around you. Maybe you were sleep-walking through life before you became a runner, but somehow running is a little gift that gives you the energy to do other things & unlocks the doors of the mind to imagine new possibilities. Yes, it can also be used as a creative tool, to help us break past barriers or become open to new ideas & possibilities.
(9) Running is a glorious resting place for the mind. While the body moves, the mind has a chance to stay still. By this, I don't mean that the mind stops being useful or stops functioning. Actually, I mean just the opposite. In the quieting of the mind (i.e., known as "the monkey mind" in the world of yoga, tai-chi, meditation, & maritial arts, etc.), the noise of every day distractions melts away. The tongue stops flapping & the mind starts sharpening. The essence of our being & yes, our goals, come into focus. The arc of our lives flattens & compresses into a tiny little point, & we are able to see what is truly important & what is not. The essential and the non-essential immediately come into focus. Or whatever other analogy you'd like to use. Quite simply, running opens the mind, the heart, the soul, & pretty much everything else for that matter. It's impossible to keep your mind curled, clenched, & closed like a tiny fist when you run, because, as every experienced runner knows, that kind of tension, whether it be the act of making literal fists when you run or making your mind into a little fist (metaphorically speaking of course), can only lead to injury to yourself (& quite possibly to others). And I mean that in all senses of the word -- physically, emotionally, mentally, etc.
Like many other sports, running forces you to live in the present, & face reality. There's nothing like the sport of running to give you that needed dose of reality, especially when you come upon difficult challenges or face your own personal limitations (whether they be temporary or permanent ones!). But that doesn't mean that you should lay down without a fight. But for heavens sake, we still need to be smart about how we approach our challenges. ;-)
(10) Running is also a heavenly escape. The mind is free to wander. It often does so without conscious effort. Out of the void & the quiet emptiness of the mind, we realize our life. If you are aware of this possibility, running can become useful to you in the same way that dreams can function in your life, as a way to troubleshoot or reveal meaning & possibilities. Without trying to sound too esoteric about it, I find that my time spent running, whether alone or with others, can be like a waking dream. ;-)
There are many more benefits I could list, but for now, these are the benefits of running which most immediately spring to mind. And for many of us, they are also part of the reason why we run.