Hidden Benefits of Running: It's More than Burning off that Cake

I have to admit: up until this year I absolutely hated running, but I did it. I ran to lose weight, to burn off my dinner, and to look good in my bikini. I’d force myself to go on group runs with my roommates, even though every stride was absolutely painful. I hate this. But I have to keep going, I’d think to myself.

It wasn’t until this year that I began to enjoy running. The weekend of my grandmas funeral, I was filled with a bajillion emotions: anger, confusion, pain, rage, and I don’t know what got into me but I laced up my sneakers and hit the road. It was a beautiful spring day in Boston, and the temperature was in the low 70s. While normally I’d want to quit before the first mile, I simply couldn’t stop this day. I ran and I ran and I ran, letting out all my emotions on the road. I ran three miles that day, and never felt so alive.

Ever since then I’ve used running as an outlet, a way to explore and understand myself. I’ve realized running is so much more than looking good in that tight dress and burning off the extra cookie you snuck at lunch. While it doesn’t hurt that running helps burn off some fat, I’ve come to realize that running is so much more than that. Alas, I share with you some of my secret running benefits

1. Admiring Other Active People: When I’m running, I love checking out all the people I stride by. I constantly find myself thinking, “Damn, her arms are nice,” “I love that top,” or “Boy is he cuteeeee.” It’s fun to observe other athletic people like yourself hitting the pavement, especially in the city of Boston where I swear people run outside from sunrise to sunset. 

2. Discovering Hidden Gems: I can’t count the number of amazing places I’ve discovered while on my long runs. From mom & pop shops, spas and trendy cafes to beautiful farms and parks, there are a number of hidden gems I never would have known about if it weren’t for my love of running. 

3. Mental to-do Lists: While running, I mentally jot down all the things I need to do, whether it be grocery shopping lists or little goals I have for the week. It saves time and paper when you organize things out in your head! (Need: apples, peanut butter, trip to the bank, new fall outfit) 

4. Creativity Spark: On that note, my creative juices tend to flow best during a good, long run. I come up with some of my craziest, most inspiring ideas while on the road, and then I write them down as soon as I get home so that I won’t forget. Sometimes I wish my brain would write everything down for me so I wouldn’t have to do all the work! (It’s hard to multi-task!) I’ve come up with most of my blog posts while on the run, including this very one you’re reading right now. 

5. Erasing a Bad Day: Whenever I’m having a bad day/stuck in a rut/feeling sorry for myself/feeling lonely and “extra-single” I go for a run, and by the time I get back I usually have an entirely new mindset. Running is refreshing and can give you a new perspective about things that may seem like THE END OF THE WORLD, when in reality they are just trivial issues. 

6. Familiarize Yourself With Your Pod: When I put my iPod on shuffle, I discover tons of music I never knew I had! From oldies and country to rap and reggae, I like to run to all kinds of beats. Today my faves included “Satisfaction” (Benny Benassi), “Ridin’ Solo”  (Jason DeRulo), “There Goes the Fear” (Doves), and “It’s the Same Old Song” (Four Tops). Told ya, I like random! 

7. Post-Run Glow: I LOVE how I look after a run: glowing, red face, healthy, sweaty, strong. 

8. Appreciating the Outdoors: Before running, I’d go on walks occasionally, but that was pretty much my only dose of fresh air for the day. Now I’m outside nearly every day, soaking up the beautiful weather, feeling the breeze blow through my hair and smelling the fresh scents of fall. 

Do you enjoy running? What are some of the reasons you absolutely love lacing up those sneaks for a nice, sweaty run? 

18 Responses to “Hidden Benefits of Running: It's More than Burning off that Cake”

  1. Mindfully Emily Says:

    I love this post! I agree that running has been so beneficial for me and wayyy outside of it’s fitness aspect. I definitely get energy and inspiration when I see other athletes outside; I smile at runners, give thumbs up to cyclist, and grin at mom’s and dad’s walking with kids and babies. I also get to clear my head in such a great way; not the same as meditation but more of a new perspective type thing. That’s probably the biggest thing of all, running changes your perspective on so many things in life!

  2. healthychicks Says:

    Yes! I love running past happy families as well. One time I was running and this little 3-year-old girl just put her arms out to hug me…her mom had to pull her off the sidewalk but I was cracking up! You see the funniest things : )

  3. Smash @ Appreciate The Now Says:

    Great post! I’d love to enjoy running this much… maybe one day! I do, however, get this feeling from playing soccer.

  4. healthychicks Says:

    Awesome, that’s the thing: you can get this kind of feeling from any activity that works for you. And trust me, I used to HATE running but learned to love it, so I’m sure you can too : )

  5. elizabeth Says:

    Great post!! running is so much more than burning calories! it is my form of meditation and where I get some quality
    “me” time. I never feel stronger than when i finish up a good, long run. It’s exhilarating and addictive! plus i never get lost around boston when driving because I’ve been running these streets for long enough 😉

  6. healthychicks Says:

    I definitely feel you on that one Elizabeth! I feel like I know where everything is now just from running/traveling on foot. I don’t even have a car but still feel like I’m my own personal city guide haha

  7. Joslyn @ missfitbliss Says:

    I really love this a lot. It makes me all nostalgic about running again;) I love the part about feeling “extra single” sometimes:)

  8. healthychicks Says:

    Thank you Joslyn! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. And that feeling of singledom definitely creeps up on me sometimes. Hope you keep reading : )

  9. Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic Says:

    I love running also because of the personal satisfaction I feel after a long, sweaty session!

  10. Rachel Wilkerson Says:

    Love this post! These are all so true!

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This entry was posted on Monday, October 11th, 2010 at 7:41 pm and is filed under Fitness, Health & Wellness. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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