There are a million excuses not to run, from the weather and your motivational level to work and family obligations. As a veteran marathoner who has completed 13 marathons, I’ve been tempted many times to give in to excuses…especially as a beginner runner. Sometimes it’s easy to get out the door but what about the days when it’s hard to get motivated? Instead of thinking of excuses not to run, consider the positive reasons instead. Here are my top five.
Running is a major stress release. If I didn’t run, I would explode. Running has a tremendously calming, yet energizing effect, probably because of the increased blood flow, release of toxins and endorphins. The world is brighter after a run. The health benefits are easy to research but include stronger heart and lungs, reduced risk of some diseases, increased mental clarity and stronger bones. So instead of yelling at your significant other or kids after a long day, go for a run and breathe deep. It will be a better day because you went for a run.
Running extends the length and quality of life. I was once told that every minute of running will extend my life by a minute. If you don’t believe me, just Google “Running extends life” to find a myriad of studies validating this fact. It makes sense. A fit person is happier. Why wouldn’t she be? A fit person has energy, discipline and a positive attitude, not to mention muscle tone and the freedom of movement. These are all ingredients for an active, happy and fulfilling life. At the age of 57, I am more energetic and fit than most people 10 years younger.
Running provides an opportunity to meet new people. There are running clubs everywhere. Join in (find a club by going to the Road Runners Club of America web site). This is a great opportunity to meet people with similar fitness goals. Runners are generally positive and active people who enjoy life. Especially if you are training for a run, like a marathon, it is important to train with people who will encourage and support you. It’s exciting and empowering.
Running also is a great time to be alone and think. Sometimes it’s important to just get away. Running can provide a period of solitude we so often need after a stressful day. One of my favorite places to run is the trails in Aliso Wood Canyons Regional Park in Aliso Viejo, California, where I can get lost in nature and relax. On the other hand, if I have an important appointment or presentation, a run early in the morning will energize me and get the thought processes flowing.
Running is a fun way to compete. As a competitive person by nature, I love to compete with myself and see if I can beat a time I ran before or go a little longer. Running road races is an enjoyable way to challenge yourself and can provide a goal to work toward. There are many types of races to choose from including 2-mile to 5K to 10K races to marathons to other ultra endurance races like triathlons. There are trail runs, street races and even the Mud Run (a very popular race in Southern California) which includes a trail course complete with mud pits. Test yourself and see what you can do. It’s a great way to feel alive.
Those of us who run regularly have our own reasons for putting on our running shoes and heading out the door. The benefits are why we keep it up. If you are contemplating a running program, congratulations, you’ve taken the first step. Please be kind to yourself and take it easy. Running is a sport which takes perseverance and discipline. I assure you, you will not be sorry you made the effort. It’s only the first step out the door that is especially hard. Every step thereafter gets easier and more fun. Welcome to the world of fitness and happy running!
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