How can running make you happy if it obstructs your breathing, causes pain and makes you feel like you’ve added a degree of humidity to the city on your run outside?
Well, I’m going to start with a real story about Sherrie.
Now, Sherrie’s got a great attitude. She even forgave me for calling her ‘Sherr-ee’ for the first year she joined my fitness bootcamp in Kingsland 😉 And while she refuses to act her age, and can out plank, squat, crunch most of the people half her age, she’s considered herself much of a “runner”.
However, she’s recently got into it after her niece, Jade, joined my bootcamp a few months back. Jade wanted to especially give running a good nudge and see if she could achieve more than she realised.
We’ve had a few running coaching sessions together which has reignited her enthusiasm for running but one of the wonderful spillover benefits of helping Jade is that Jade and Sherrie now go running together every week.
This is awesome on so many levels. They’re hanging out more, they’re accountability partners, they push each other and are becoming much closer friends. Also shows how age doesn’t need to be a factor.
Now, here’s the bit I’d like to linger on…
This morning during our bootcamp, Sherrie and I were running quietly up the hill while the others did a little extra and Sherrie shared a special moment with me.
She said “Alex, I want to tell you something…Last Wednesday after my run, and for the first time in a long time I felt a truly happy”. She’d rediscovered the runner’s high.
It’s the best compliment in the world for a running coach to hear that what you’ve done makes a difference to others…
Running does make you happy. It makes you happy because it uses all of your muscles – not just your legs – but your brain, your heart and your whole body. That’s why it feels so tough when you start. You’re trying to get all of those muscles working together…and when you get in tune, that’s when you feel that sense of euphoria.
Here are 5 more scientific and logical reasons why running makes you happy:
1 – Research has shown that running and other forms of exercise release chemicals in the brain (endorphins) which make you more energetic, more awake and, yes, happier. These endorphins kick in during and/or after the workout and after a while, you feel more gloomy when you’re missing out on running.
2 – Running helps you get into better shape, making you feel stronger and able to handle any challenges that come your way. That feeling of empowerment is a good first step to happiness.
3 – Running makes you more resilient because you have to overcome adversity. There’s something about the endurance aspect of running that’s powerful. Firstly, the more your run, the more tolerant you are of pain and therefore the more likely you are to ignore it and focus on what else is going well in your life. Secondly, unlike a lot of other sports that are guided – group exercise, yoga, cross-fit – you have to draw on your own motivation to keep going. Lastly, I sure feel better after a 10 minute HIIT session but I don’t get nearly the same high as I do from running distance (that high is especially good on the days that I don’t think I can finish but do).
4 – Most of the “happiest” runners are running towards a goal, even if that goal is to run as often as makes you happy. That journey is often mixed with difficult challenges which, when overcome, triggers that sense of achievement, pride and self-worth.
Running is social – either during, after it or at events. My experience has certainly been that runners are pretty good people. (Actually got to make a shout out to my friend Paul who’s amplifying that message with his community, Good People Run). Maybe there’s a link between caring about the environment, getting out in nature and being more empathetic to others? Either way, running with a friend has got to make you feel more connected…and happy.
5 – It’s about how you feel that matters. Your self-esteem soars when you do something good for yourself. Running hits all the right buttons: it’s challenging, healthy and natural. Running is a symbol for strength and fitness. Feeling good about yourself opens up the door to happiness.
The more you run, the better you get, the more challenges you overcome and the more likely you are to experience that sense of peace, pride, clarity, confidence or happiness. Be happy out there!
PS: If you’d like to join the moxiee movement – inspiring confidence women – then request your invite to the facebook group. A safe, positive and encouraging place for women to hang out, connect, share and get inspired by women doing everyday awesomeness.
If you’d like to kickstart your running, here is something easy to get your going
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