The physical benefits of exercise have long been known, some people choose to embrace them, others couldn’t think of anything worse, naturally it’s all down to personal choice but an additional benefit that might not readily come to mind is the self worth and positivity that can be gained from a pair of trainers and running, regardless of the pace or distance.
Speed isn’t a factor and all runners whether novices or experienced old hands will tell you that the physical benefits of running are only half the story, self esteem is probably the single biggest factor in my running these days. In short, the world looks a better place when I’m running.
As runners we probably take for granted the physical benefits of our hobby / passion. Cardiovascular fitness, maintaining or loosing weight, kick starting your metabolism, toned muscles, lower cholesterol, blood pressure reduction, falling asleep quicker and sleeping deeper, the list goes on and on !! In fact, I recently read a quote that said exercise can add years to your life and life to your years.
So with the physicality covered I wanted to write about why running is so important to me and maybe encourage others to try it for themselves. I stand that little bit taller when I talk about or go running.
A familiar comment that I hear is “do runners actually enjoy what they do because they always have a pained expression on their face” well I guess if it was easy then there wouldn’t be the same challenge but there’s definitely a second satisfaction to be had, long after you’ve showered and settled back into everyday life.
Having a sporty identity and been know as a runner implies to people that you are fit and healthy but one of my best kept secrets is that it positively influences the rest of the my day, week, month and year.
I’m not fast, I haven’t run a personal best for years but running gives me an inner feeling of self worth. In many ways I believe in myself, this doesn’t mean I’m overly confident it simply means I appreciate my achievements and if I hadn’t been running then I wouldn’t have set myself these goals and wouldn’t have enjoyed aspiring and ultimately reaching many of my target. Be proud of your running 😀
Having pride in your running isn’t being big headed because I can list numerous people that can run faster and further than I can but in many ways that’s the point, I am proud of what I do. Don’t compare yourself to others because what they are doing is out of your control. I do think that we can put too much pressure on ourselves, I must and I should have can be quite damaging instead I like to concentrate on what’s realistic.
Building on your previous training and races means you are learning from both your successes and mistakes. When I’m struggling I do like to draw on previous runs and say to myself, “come on Rog, you chose to do this, you’ve done it before you can do it again”.
The other great thing about self esteem is that it can have a cumulative effect and each positive run / experience builds on the last so that when you do have a bad day you have lots of good days to fall back on.
It’s probably inevitable that the one event which you consider as your best performance will give you your most self esteem. Race to the King was the one event that encapsulated everything that I’m trying to portray but running a double marathon across the South Downs Way implies the feeling is only achievable with an above average effort and this isn’t the case. Yes I completed 53 miles in twelve hours but the fact that I was on the move from 8am until 8pm isn’t necessarily the achievement it’s the fact that standing on the start line the previous seven months of training meant I believed I could run/walk eighteen miles further than I’d previously attempted.
I have other photos but I like this one because with my eyes closed it implies I was glad it was over when in actual fact it gave me the biggest buzz I’ve ever had, I was on top of the world, even if the winner had finished hours before I had I’d proved to myself that I could achieve my goal and that feeling never leaves you.
Standing on the train platform in Winchester once I’d finished, I had a massive smile on my face even though my legs ached but this inner sense of self worth and personal value is just as achievable after a run in the rain when staying indoors felt like a better bet or heading out on a chilly morning when staying in your warm bed would be most peoples choice.
I may have a preference for longer distance running but I firmly believe we all have more in us than we think and once you’ve experienced that then you realise you don’t need to be the best, just the best “you” that you can be and that’s more than enough.
The self esteem that’s gained from exercise means you believe in yourself and even though this might not solve all of your everyday problems it really does lift your spirits when you reflect on what you’ve achieved and on what you are planning to attempt because you approach your future goals with a “can do” mindset.
Exercise is known to help you process stress, anxiety and depression, the great outdoors is free to access and thankfully its benefits have been recognised even during lockdown. If you add self esteem then that’s a great place to look forwards from.
Running sets you free !!
Thanks for reading