Wednesday, October 3, 2012

What Running Has Done For Me

I've already expressed how much difficulty I had with my long run on Sunday. Sure, physically it was challenging and I was feeling sore by mile 15 already, but my real issues came not from my body, but my mind. It's been awhile since I've wanted to quit that many times during a run. And at each moment of self-doubt I had to think of ways to inspire and push myself forward. When it's just you and the road, you have to create the motivation to keep going.

So I got to thinking: "What has running done for me? Why do I keep doing it?" Obviously there is a lovely endorphin boost that comes with any exercise, but really running has done much more for me beyond a happy smile on my face after a 6 mile run.

Weeee endorphins!
I used to be a person who quit things. I quit all of the after school activities my mom signed me up for when I was a kid. I quit studying for the SATs because I felt overwhelmed and outnumbered by all of the overachievers in my graduating class. I quit studying in college because partying seemed a lot better.

And then I found running, and I became a person who didn't quit things. While it might have started with not quitting on an early morning jog or racing a new distance, eventually it spread to other things to. Soon quitting became something that wasn't even an option in my life.
From a recent New York Times article "The Honorable Clan of the Long-Distance Runner":

"Nonrunners often imagine that people can cover 26.2 miles only because they have lean, muscled legs and a highly developed cardiovascular system. Nothing could be further from the truth. The runner's most important organ, by far, is the brain -- the source of our dreams, drive and determination. Almost a century ago, the great Finnish distance runner Paavo Nurmi said: 'Mind is everything; muscle, mere pieces of rubber. All that I am, I am because of my mind.'"

You always hear about how running is a metaphor for life and blah, blah, blah some people chalk that up to being cheesy. But really, how much easier is it to get through a tough day or a tough situation, when you've physically and, more importantly, mentally gotten yourself through your first long run or a marathon or a speedy 5k?

My most mentally challenging race thus far: PHUNT 50k
I may not be the fastest person on the block, but thanks to running I've got a mind of steel, and that will get me places (hopefully to the finish line of the JFK 50 for starters, eh, eh?). Running has made me a stronger person and that is why I keep doing it.

Chime in! Do you feel mentally "tougher" since you started running?


  1. K, so while I love running in the wilderness/trails, I find it harder. I feel like the uneaven surface is harder on my already jacked up back. Yes, I absolutely w/ out a doubt feel mentally tougher from running. That's one of the top benefits of running in my opinion.

    1. I absolutely agree. Trails are tough and I think more often than not I have bad runs on trails, which doesn't really encourage me to keep trying them. I think you have to learn to love them!

  2. The whole mental part of running is what I love about it. Something about oddly enjoying those really tough moments keep me going back. I've never been one to quit things but have usually have a major fear of starting things that I don't think I can do...running has helped greatly with that!

  3. So agree with you! I honestly don't allow quitting to be an option in my runs or races mentally, so it helps me to not even consider it. Trust me, I'd want to quit, but my ego around running is so big, it helps me to remember that quitting would be so terrible. This also helps me not quit other things in life. I tell myself that if I can get myself to run 100 miles, I can get through whatever it is I am struggling with.

  4. I totally have become mentally "tougher" since running...especially as I get into the longer and longer distances. Definitely go through highs and lows though...however, the feelings I get from the highs for outweigh the lows and I'm trying not to let the lows bring me down as much. I quit a lot of things in school as well but running is so different so I can definitely relate to you on this!

  5. How on earth did I miss that NYTimes story the first time around??
    Thanks for the link - and for dragging me out of my news cave!


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