It is a very brisk morning for a run I have to say. Even in Florida and it’s 37. I have a group of girls who are training for a full and I need to catch up. Running is my metaphor for life, but really any physical exercise could do.
And I would say the biggest reasons or takeaways I get from running is the ability that I find in myself to push myself through limits I didn’t know I even had. Running is a true metaphor for life I believe. Any physical activity or exercise where you can push yourself further than you ever imagined you could be is a great metaphor for how we can approach our love life, our work, our friendships. What it teaches us is that we will survive through that limit and onto the other side and grow as a person as a human being as someone taking part in the community and how we become real leaders for our children and our neighbors.
I think running for me strengthens my mental acuity to be sharp and think clearly. When I run in the morning my ideas flow and quite honestly often where I write my blog posts as I run through our little beach town.
I run in the morning in the dark, in the quiet. I’ve only been yelled at by drivers couple of times over the last 10 years so not doing too bad.
I once read a book by George Sheehan called on running and life. All the little things that pop up his life he was able to find something similar in his running experiences.
As we as runners train for a race we also must train for our lives. We can’t just expect to wake up and be great people or be great parents or be great employees are business owners. We have to know that we have to train for these situations that are going to come.
Physical exercise, running included, is known to release endorphins in the brain. Endorphins act as a natural “drug” that make a person more energetic, more awake and, yes, happier. The endorphins can kick in during run, after a workout or both, and are generally referred to as a “runner’s high.” Almost every runner experiences an elevated mood after running, and most will tell you that their moods tend to be gloomier when they don’t run.
Running gets you into better physical shape, which, in turn, makes you feel stronger and better able to handle challenges that come your way. Being in better shape changes you not only physically, but also mentally. It makes you feel more empowered, which leads to a happier mood.
Running and racing allow you to set goals. People are much happier when they are working towards a goal, whether they actually achieve it or not. The act of setting a goal and actively working towards it is what seems to trigger happiness. Reaching the goal, of course, is wonderful, but it is the journey towards the goal that leads to the most happiness.
The running community is a very social group even though running is an individual sport. That fact might seem counterintuitive, but runners are very supportive of each other and are actually very social. Running with friends or interacting with other runners virtually can provide them with a supportive social group. Humans are generally happier (especially women) when they feel strong social connections. This idea does not mean that runners need to have a large social group, but rather a handful of good running buddies is enough to make them feel connected and, therefore, happier.
Finally, running improves your self-esteem. Increasing endorphins, getting in better shape, working towards a goal and increasing social connections all work together to increase your overall self-esteem. Increased self-esteem leads you to be happier. Think about it. Have you ever met a truly happy person who didn’t have high self-esteem? I doubt it.
So pull your running shoes on now and head out for a run. Your increased happiness is waiting for you.