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11 Benefits of Running

Running has been a fairly new exercise to me. I started out completing the Couch to 5k Challenge and quickly fell in love with the benefits that running gave me. I have been running for just over a year now and it has taught me a lot as well as given me so many benefits. Yes, I have had my ups and downs with running however the impact of these benefits has been so great that they have always pulled me back into running again. Therefore, I thought I would share my personal experience with running and how it has benefitted me mentally, physically and socially.

Mental Benefits:

1) Goals/Challenges -

As mentioned above, I started out by completing the Coach to 5k challenge and since completing that I have set myself the goal of running a marathon this year. Ambitious? Yes. However, I enjoy running so much that I wanted to have another goal that I could focus and train towards. Other ways I set myself challenges is through an app called Strava (which is free!). They publish challenges every month for you to complete and you can earn badges for your profile. I have also been taking part in my running club's virtual challenges which has been really fun and motivating!

2) Test my Mental Strength -

Often, I will set out on a run and my brain will go into protective mode where it tells me to stop and rest during my run. There have been some occasion where I have given in however the majority of the time I resist my brain and listen to my body. If my body feels good and strong then I will carry on and ignore my brain. Doing this has taught me that our brains can be so powerful but we have to listen and react to how our body is feeling when running.

3) Clearer Mind -

For me, once I have been on a run it's like the fog has lifted especially if I go first thing in the morning when I am still half asleep! Running has enabled me to have a clearer mindset and feel more ready and prepared for the day ahead.

4) Discipline -

Since I am training at the moment, I have a training plan that I need to follow each week. Yes, there have been occasions before my training plan where I have skipped a run or not even ran for a whole week but having a training plan and a goal that I want to stick to and complete has given me the discipline to perform each week. I am only 2 1/2 weeks into my plan however I am determined to keep going to get to where I want to be.

5) Alone Time -

Whether I run at the crack of dawn or late in the evening, I find running gives me alone time to let my thoughts be and escape from every day life. It's odd. It's almost as if I go into a meditation state and become oblivious to my surroundings.

6) Never Regret a Run -

When I am not feeling running one day or not in the right frame of mind this is usually a sign that actually going on a run is what I need. I always keep in my head that you can never regret a run. So if you're not feeling running one day or the weather is putting you off, just step out the door and set the goal of running to the end of your street and then see how far you can get. Once you get out there, you won't want to stop!

Physical Benefits:

7) Builds Muscle -

For me, I have seen an improvement on my muscle strength and gain. I don't really like talking too much about physical appearances as I feel like this is not important however it is a benefit of running if building muscle is what you want to do.

8) Burn Calories -

If you're looking for an exercise that burns a healthy amount of calories then I would suggest lacing up your trainers and giving running a go. Of course, if you're looking for burning lots of calories and loosing weight etc then you can't just rely on running, you will need to include other practices into your routine such as workouts, healthy lifestyle and eating etc. I would suggest researching online and looking at medical blogs that specialise in this area for more guided, factual & healthy information.

Social Benefits:

9) Community -

Since taking up running I have found two communities full of like minded people with similar interests to me which I absolutely love! I joined a running club at the beginning of this year and it has enabled me to meet people in my local area who enjoy running. We have been able to all take part in virtual challenges which has been great fun along with meeting up in small groups of 6 to explore new routes and have a chat.

My Instagram page as well (@lifeful_fitness) has allowed me to explore others who are also marathon or keen runners. I find lots of inspiration on there to keep me running and to also help encourage others with my own account.

10) Explore my Local Area -

I covered this a little bit above but previously I started out my running journey on a treadmill until I got to 5k. I then took the plunge into outdoor running and I would never turn back to running on a treadmill. I love being able to step out my front door and have the freedom of running wherever I would like and for however long. When running outside you also meet other runners or cyclists along the way which is a nice, friendly interaction to keep you going.

11) Encouraging Others -

Since I have experienced so many benefits to running myself, I would like to be able to share my journey with others to hopefully inspire them to get out and run. Whether you're looking for some form of exercise that is accessible and that you can enjoy once a week or whether you're wanting to set yourself a goal and run 4/5 times a week. Whatever your purpose for running or thinking of running, I hope my experience of running helps you set your feet on the pavement and go for it!

If you've got this far, I hope you enjoyed! Let me know in the comments what benefits you have experienced from running - let's share the love and encouragement!

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