Now that spring’s finally here, it’s time to dust off those running shoes, retire those weather related excuses, and hit the road for a nice long run. There’s no better way to jump start your summer! But what if you need a little extra motivation? We all know running is a great way to improve our health and cardiovascular fitness, but there are many personal and social benefits to be gained from running as well. Here are seven hidden benefits of running to help get you out the door.
1. Develop Mental Toughness
Sometimes the hardest part of your run isn’t the physical pain, but finding the mental fortitude to keep going. Running extraordinaire Inge Boerma, NRC+ Run Club Coach, ultra-marathoner, and marathoner, recently told Faze how she pushes herself through the dreaded runner’s wall, “During a race, I have mental dips where I’m tired, it gets tough when I feel myself going into that dip, I repeat to myself, ‘no lows’. This is my zone where I need to clear my mind and just mentally get as far away as possible from the zone of negativity. So I take deep breaths and repeat, ‘no lows,’ and usually I can fight myself out of the negative dip and persevere.”
If you can work through the fatigue and those nagging thoughts telling you to quit, the mental toughness you gain will naturally start to extend to your personal and professional lives. If you can push yourself to complete that distance, race, or run, you can find the strength to face just about any challenge.
2. Increased Confidence
Way to go! You pushed yourself to complete a distance, race, or time you never thought possible. If you can accomplish this, imagine what else you can do! Inge tells Faze that running has given her “the courage and confidence that there’s always a challenge out there that [she] can overcome. Running is amazing in the way that it shows you how hard work pays off. Running isn’t always easy, especially when you first start, but patience and dedication pays off, and it gets easier for you to tackle distances that you once thought were impossible.”
3. Master Goal Setting
So you just finished your first five kilometre race, and you’re feeling super confident, but how do you build upon your success to run farther, or faster? The training you’ll do to take yourself from a five kilometre run, to a 10 km run, to an ultra-marathon (and everything in between!), will teach you the value of goal setting. Inge describes running as “a beautiful sport where there’s endless possibilities to the goals you would like to achieve. Let’s say your overall goal is to run an ultra one day. Setting mini goals along the way, such as racing your first half marathon or marathon are moments and achievements that you can crush along the way.”
4. Meet New People
Though it may seem like a solitary sport, running is a surprisingly great way to meet new people and make new friends, especially if you’re in a new town. The running community is incredibly supportive, so it’s especially helpful if you’re new to the sport or just getting into racing. Inge says she’s “surrounded by an amazing community of runners that I run with everyday, so their stories and achievements pushed me to start thinking of getting back into racing again.” If you’re interested in meeting other runners in your city, call up the specialty running store in your neighborhood and ask them to connect you to the local run club; chances are good they host one themselves!
5. Rediscover Your City
Whether you like to run alone or in a group, there’s no better way to get to know your city! Changing up your running route and exploring different neighbourhoods are great ways to get to know your city. Who knows, you might spot a great new coffee shop, restaurant, or boutique for your next group outing.
6. Guilt-Free Snacking!
The greatest benefit of all! There’s nothing more exciting than getting home after your Sunday morning long run and diving into the fridge for a post-run snack. Even if you’re running to lose weight, you’ll likely increase your food intake as you increase your mileage. And as long as you do it healthily—a 10 km run doesn’t equal a pint of ice cream—you can snack to your heart’s content!
7. Have Fun!
No, really. Running races is basically gamified exercise. Sure, your only real opponent is you and your most recent personal best, but the energy of a race can give you that final push you need to reach your goals. When asked what distance, run, or race gave her the confidence to tackle her first ultra, Inge describes her love of the sport, and her running community.
“I really loved the marathon distance and was enjoying just running them, not racing them. One day, I was running with my old teammates and they started joking with me that since college I really loved quantity miles not quality miles, saying, I like to run far and my fire for running fast had sort of blown out. That joke pushed me to sign up for my first 50k race, to challenge the idea ‘quantity not quality.’ I trained hard for it and loved the new journey and races. Now I like to think I have a great combo of both quantity and quality races under my belt.”
So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and have fun!