Much has been written about the physical benefits of running in terms of weight management and physical fitness. We all know that running can help us keep fit and in shape.
However, one big benefit of running which is perhaps considered less is the huge contribution that running can have on emotional wellbeing, helping us solve problems, manage predicaments and all kinds of stressors. With stress now causing increases in lost working days, visits to GPs, medical insurance claims and antidepressant prescriptions, it’s a big cost and big deal to us as both individuals and society.
While I personally didn’t get into running for ’emotional reasons’ – I started as I wanted to run a marathon – 15 years later I am still running a lot, and the emotional benefits have been an unexpected by-product that I have benefited from hugely.
In fact I have often wondered what I’d be like if I didn’t have running as a key tool in my life that helps me:
-solve so many problems on a day-to-day basis;
-provides a different perspective on my thoughts, worries and concerns.
Let me illustrate by giving you a recent example.
Last month I travelled to Las Vegas on business, which isn’t at all as glamorous as it sounds, believe me. In fact, I spent the best part of 20 hours in transit, slept for about three hours and arrived in Las Vegas not at my best!
On top of that, I’d had a very challenging week, and my head was filled with memories from the week gone by as well as ideas and plans for the week ahead!
Once I’d checked into my hotel, the last thing I felt like doing was going for a run; but it was the first thing that I actually did! In fact, it was a great run along Las Vegas’s Strip, the only place where I passed The Eiffel Tower, The Pyramids of Giza, The Statue of Liberty, and St Mark’s Square all in the space of 30 minutes!
But the key point is that when I returned, I was feeling refreshed and clear on the path to take. It was amazing. Everything that just an hour before-hand had felt scrambled, suddenly seemed organised! And I have experienced this sensation so many times before. In fact every time I go running!
Over the last year, I have been listening to podcasts while I run which also serve as useful stimulus for problem-solving. Just today, for instance, I had a very unproductive day by my standards and found myself listening to an interview with a productivity expert which spoke to me deeply and gave me ‘new life’ when I returned.
So in our age where stress-related illnesses continue to drive up sickness stats, we shouldn’t forget the tremendous power that running has on both our emotional, as well as our physical, wellbeing. It’s not only about achieving PBs (which are of course important!).
Finally, let me leave you with a technique that I often use whenever I’m feeling challenged emotionally:
So there we have we have it. That’s it from me for 2014. I have really enjoyed writing for you over the last few months. Have a wonderful new year and keep running!
New Year offer:
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