It's officially been 3 days since I crossed the finish line of my second half marathon, and I'm still experiencing a flood of emotions. The days after race day, always seem to be the time I reflect the most because well..THE HARD PART IS OVER! I finished! The girl who has always hated running, is officially calling herself a "runner" from this day forward. I might not be a top performing athlete, will probably never break a 2 hour half marathon, and I might always have a love/hate relationship with running but it has truly changed my life! Which got me to thinking about writing this post: '10 Reasons You Should Take Up Running!’ Working our way from the bottom up... here we go!
#10- Free therapy.
Whether it be 30 minutes in the morning before you head out on your day, or 30 minutes before the sun sets after a long day. The calm and quiet that running brings is therapeutic in many ways. There is nothing like lacing up your running shoes, hitting the pavement, and leaving all your junk out on your run. I'm a mom of 3 young kiddo's, and my day is jammed packed with taking care of everyone else. I'm so thankful for that gift, but running- is for me! It is my self care. It is my way of getting alone with God to work out my thoughts and feelings. It is my time to pray. It is my time to dream. It is a time where I can work out my frustrations in life in a healthy way. It's free therapy! Running is something that I can do for myself that emotionally, physically, and spiritually leaves me feeling refreshed!
#9-The places you will go!
Years ago, whenever I would go to the gym I would love to hop on the treadmill for a quick run. This always confused my husband (a true runner all the way back since middle school) because he despised the treadmill compared to outdoor running. It makes me laugh now, but I always thought running outside would be way more boring than running on a treadmill at the gym watching reruns of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. I mean, who wouldn't want to watch Chandler Bing for 30 minutes of cardio? NOW though, I dread the treadmill and LOVE the views that I get to see on a run. Anytime we travel without our kids, we can't wait to squeeze in a run in a new city with new scenery. Back at home we're always looking for a new trail, or a park that we haven't run at before. The places running will take you will leave you with an appreciation of nature and the outdoors you get to run in and explore.
#8-Running is good for your health.
I bet most people would think this reason would rank higher up on the list. Don't get me wrong...in my book, it is incredibly important! It just isn't ranking in at number one. Nonetheless, we should be taking care of our bodies and getting the 30 minutes of recommended daily exercise. So what better way to do that than a morning run? You'll feel like you can take on the rest of your day like a champion. Not a runner? That's ok, walk if you need to walk, and work your way up to a run with the famous "couch to 5k" training plan. You'll find yourself running in no time. Plus, here are some medically proven reasons why running is healthy for you:
-According the the American Heart Association, you can prevent cardiovascular diseases by running for a total of 75 minutes each week.
-The New York Times reported that Alzheimer's can be prevented through running. According to the report, a study made by Washington University scientists found that elderly mice put on a running program experienced significant less dementia than those that didn't.
-Studies have shown that running has lowered blood pressure more successfully than medication and diet in a high amount of patients.
#7-Theres no community like the running community.
Before I started running, I had no idea that the running community might just be hands down-the friendliest bunch of people I have ever encountered! There's a really busy park 10 minutes from our house that is FILLED with runners, bikers, and walkers day and night, all week long. When I first started running on this trail, I remember being confused by how many people would wave and say hello! Do I know these people?!? I go to the grocery store, the mall, heck even take a walk down my own street and most people don't interact with you at all. Go running, just about anywhere other runners will be and most strangers out on the trail will greet you with a warm smile, a welcoming 'hello', or a cheerful "keep it up!" What I've learned is, there is no community like the running community! You can be complete strangers, but there is a mutual respect and support between all runners that makes strangers feel like friends.
#6-You will never look at hills the same.
Nearly every Saturday morning for the last 6 months I've run at the same park to train for a half marathon. It's a beautiful park, with beautiful views. About a mile and a half into the run there is massive hill that over looks this beautiful little lake. I've always hated that stinking hill. Heck, I've generally just always hated hills! Who doesn't? So I walk them. When I'm riding my bike, I'll hop off and walk up the hill dreading every last second. When I'm running, it's an automatic default to stop and walk the hill at a slow pace while my legs burn. Until one random day, I decided to see if I could conquer the hill running. Much to my surprise, you know what I found out? It's truthfully EASIER to run the hill FAST in rhythm than it is to walk or jog the hill in slow discomfort. That first time running the hill, I got to the top, and even though it was a view I had seen many times before, the view had changed. The way the suns reflection bounced off the waters surface felt so much more satisfying to my soul than it had before. It's just a hill, one that MANY people have run many times, so I'm not tooting my own horn. I'm just saying...it was a revelation that I'm so much stronger than I give myself credit for! From that day on, I have never walked that hill again! I know it's going to burn, but I smirk a little now when I round the corner to see it. Knowing it's a chance to prove to myself once again that I have opportunities all around me to "be a hill seeker". A chance to experience the reward of what comes on the other side. Hills teach us that we are stronger than we think we are, and without the climb, we don't get to experience the downhill rush.
#5-It will change the way you talk to yourself.
You know what response I get most when people talk to me about running? "I could never do that!" I use to say the EXACT same thing, myself. Until a few months after my second child was born, a friend could no longer participate in a 5k she signed up for and transferred the registration to me. I decided to try a couch to 5k, and go with it. My ONLY goal was to just finish that race, even if I walked a large chunk of it. I will never forget the man running in front of me in JEAN OVERALLS and STEAL TOE BOOTS!! Maybe he was fulfilling a dare, maybe he had just gotten off work, or was just testing out his overall strength, I'm not sure. What I do know is that I remember telling myself that if he could run this race in that ludacrious outfit without stopping, just maybe..I could too! And despite my doubts, I did! Every run since then, I've had to SPEAK LIFE to my mind that is battling my own body to stop moving. No one else is going to convince my mind that I AM strong enough, brave enough, or tough enough to keep that run alive when my entire body is exhausted and screaming for me to stop, EXCEPT ME! If you believe you can't, chances are highly in your favor that you probably won't. If you believe you CAN and you WILL, you'll fight like hell to get it done!
#4-Become a part of something bigger.
This is the second year my husband and I have trained to run a race on behalf of raising funds for a charity. Our first year we ran for the Epilepsy Foundation in honor of our daughter who suffers from a genetic condition-STXBP1 that is the primary cause of her epilepsy. It was an incredible experience to cross the finish line of my first half marathon with her little face watching us, knowing we had made a difference in lives like hers. This year, we joined a local church group to run for Hope Water International. Their mission- to drill wells in Sierra Leone, bringing clean water access and the hope of Jesus to those without. Let me just say, it's been a complete joy and honor of ours to run along side this group of strangers turned into teammates and friends. One of the most supportive groups of people I have ever been around. From every age, every level of fitness, every shape and size, we are a community of believers running with a purpose. To bring hope to those who so desperately need it. A band of brothers and sisters training and running for something bigger than themselves.
#3- You'll discover you are stronger than you realize.
There's a famous saying among runners, "Never trust the first mile". Or maybe you've heard it spoken this way, "The first mile is a liar". I never understood what that meant, or rather how it was possible? How can the first mile for experienced runners be difficult after so many years of running? It's because running never gets easier, YOU JUST GET STRONGER! So that first mile, no matter how conditioned you are- always sucks! Your body always throw a giant temper tantrum and screams at you, "WHAT THE HECK are you doing to me?!?" Then somewhere into the second mile, your body realizes you're not stopping, and out of submission-it adjusts! For years every time I tried to go for a run, I never made it past the first mile. This is why! I quit when I thought I couldn't run for a second longer. Truth-YOU CAN! If I can, you can!
#2-You will inspire others.
There are people watching you whether you know it or not. Running is not easy, so naturally people will wonder why you're invested in something that quiet literally kicks yours butt. Over the course of my husband and I training for a half and full marathon, my kids watched us both and wanted to participate in almost every run they witnessed us leave the house to go on. One of my favorite memories of this was a night after my husband came home from work just beat and exhausted. We both had training runs on the schedule for that night, but neither of us felt up to getting out in the heat and getting it done. We mentioned this out loud to one another at the dinner table, and as we finished dinner, our oldest encouraged my husband to go get his run in. After he left the driveway, my son then proceeded to tell me he 'had a plan'. After his dad left, he went back inside and filled two ice cold water bottles, got a cold wash cloth ringing wet, and snagged the cow bells out of our garage. For shorter runs we have a loop in our neighborhood that is exactly 1 mile as we hit the mailbox in our driveway. Landon hurried us all outside, before his dad made his first mile loop out of 4 and we rang those stinking cow bells and cheered as loud as we could! By the 4th mile, he had jumped on his bike and met my husband as he rounded the last corner to ride along side his tired old dad. In that moment, I realized my husband-through running, was teaching my boys to fulfill your commitments. And in order to grow in self-discipline you have to be willing to do the work, even when you don't feel like it. I hope that is a lesson my kids will keep witnessing from us, and instill in their own lives as they grow up.
#1-You will never be the same.
I recently got to watch my rockstar husband run across the finish line of his first ever marathon. This is a moment I will never forget. Screaming and cheering as loud as I possibly could, with tears rolling down my cheeks, ...I was filled with so much joy that I could have burst! A thought crossed my mind as I witnessed him do "the impossible". The man before me..drained and exhausted... that I was watching finish that last .10 of a mile, was absolutely NOT the same man he was 6 months before that day! This was a man, a person...much like myself, and much like many other runners out there, who had now found the GIFT of running. That gift, changed my husband! Just like it changed me! Just like it can change you! Through running, we've both been molded into better versions of ourselves. And no, I don't mean physically. (Although that happens too.) We are both stronger because of the lessons running has taught us. Running breaks you down physically and mentally...to a place that you have to build yourself back up from! For us...we build back up from who God says we are. Oprah said it best in her marathon training, "I don't care who you are, at mile 22 you're calling on Jesus!" As your body becomes weak, your mind has to become strong! In that weakness, I rely on God to tell me WHO and WHAT I am. I AM STRONG! I AM BRAVE! I AM COURAGEOUS! Running, much like life...can be excruciatingly challenging and painful, but when we push through with purpose, it changes us from the inside out. I hope the next time you see a runner jogging down your street and you wonder what it's all about or if you could ever do that, that you'll be brave enough to try! Brave enough to start! Brave enough to let running change you, like it's changed us from the inside out. You'll never regret it. Not for a second!