I wasn’t always a runner. Before my days of lacing up and hitting the asphalt, I was apt to taking my frustrations out on a bag of chips or pretzels, trying to crunch and munch my way through my throes of woes. As if I was able to somehow chew my way out of the conundrum presented, if only I found the right food to feed it. However all that the snacking succeeded in doing was increasing my waist size and it did nothing to clear my head, or smooth my furrows of worry.
I first turned to walking, figuring that just getting out into nature and meditating in the sunshine would blow through the fog in my head, giving me the break time from my problems that I so desperately sought. It worked. Not that the problems went away, mind you, but I was able to put things into perspective and it turned out that these times alone were great for the reduction of stress too. If I went out regularly, I found that my head was clearer than if I missed a day.
I gradually progressed to running by joining a running clinic, and this put me into a deeper meditative state then walking did. I became more focused during the day and able to complete tasks at hand faster. Things that had worried me before no longer cross my mind and I have a more positive outlook over all. When I am out on a long run I can mull over problem scenarios in my mind, and come up with the best possible solutions, then come home and soak sore muscles in a hot bath. Or I can go out with a friend on a run and just forget about everything for a while, which works wonders too.
Another unexpected benefit I have gained from running is the fact that my health is better. Running boosts your immune system, and I have reaped the rewards of less colds and flus throughout the year. Even in the winter when I am running in cold torrential rain or snowy conditions, my body seems to reject the usual viruses.
I have even given up smoking for my new found love of this sport. I didn’t have to. I ran for eight months while smoking before I decided it was time to give up the habit. I was curious about how I much I could improve my performance and how my energy would improve if I gave up the tobacco that had been part of my life since my teenage years. I won’t say it was easy because it wasn’t. I will say that if I hadn’t had running to fall back on during that time I probably would not have stuck to it like I have.
Embracing running in my life has reduced my stress load, improved my health, but best of all it has reduced my dress size and increased my confidence and what can be better than that?