I’m back!! Last week, I wrote a post where I really laid my heart out about running and how I was disappointed in my half-marathon race result. I was questioning whether I should just quit running because I was not seeing the progress that I wanted to see.
That post was very difficult for me to write, but was also very real. I think anyone that has set a goal for themselves and failed; has had similar thoughts and feelings.
However, now its been over a week since I ran that race, and the sting of “failing” is starting to wear off. Today, I want to reflect on why I’ve decided to continue running and perhaps why you should too.
Running is More than Just Race Times
I know. I know. I’m the over-competitive guy that always wants to set a personal record or win the race. Why can’t I just be happy to enjoy the experience?
Well, I’m FAR from giving up on any personal running goals; but I needed a week to reflect on what benefits can be gained from running; outside of “winning”. After putting some serious thought into whether or not I should continue in this sport, I’ve come up with some real benefits of running.
Here’s 10 good reasons why I will keep running – even if I don’t get much faster:
1. Lose weight.
Running keeps my weight in check. In fact, I’ve been able to see a direct correlation between my weight and how much I am running; as clearly shown on this graph of my weight over the past 4 years. (See graph below). In addition, many others have documented huge success stories for losing weight through running.
2. Live Longer.
The health benefits are immense. A recent study has shown that running consistently can extend your life by as many as 6 years. I could go on and on about the health benefits of running, but this is one reason that doesn’t take much explanation, right? You run – you are healthier. Period.
3. Be Happy.
I am happier when I set goals and achieve them. However, running actually provides more than just the opportunity to set and achieve goals; it can alter your mood through endorphins and more. A recent study has shown endorphins produced through running can indeed positively affect mood. But its more than that, the ability to get some exercise in after a day of sitting at the computer…just feels good, doesn’t it?
4. Its Social.
Yes, running is a very individual sport – which is one reason I like it; but I’ve also found that I enjoy the social aspects of it as well. I have lots of friends that run; and we actively discuss our upcoming events, share each others training plans, and race goals. This creates an instant connection with any other runner out there.
5. Setting and Achieving Goals Improves Life.
I recently read a quote, that said, “The pure act of working towards something and accomplishing it makes me happier”. I think this is very true, but achieving goals does more than just make us happy; it also improves our quality of life. My life won’t be better simply if I ran a 1:35 half-marathon; but it will be better because I worked hard towards something, accomplished it, and added a positive experience to my life.
6. Create Memorable Experiences.
Running provides ample opportunities to live out amazing experiences in life. And another recent study has shown that experiences make us much happier than possessions. I have all kinds of experiences and stories that I can share with others now thanks to running.
I’ve experienced running a 10-mile race without training and finishing behind a heavy set woman in tight-green “stretchy pants” (one of my wife’s favorites stories to share about me). I’ve experienced running late at night with a team of 12 in a Ragnar Relay. I’ve run into multiple “wild” animals within 10 minutes of my house (that I had no idea lived anywhere near us). I’ve experienced training hard and accomplishing a race time I never thought was possible a year before. And SO much more…
7. Sets an Example.
Perhaps this won’t apply to everyone, but I have 3 children, and I think running sets a great example of how to work hard and achieve something. Sure, there are LOTS of other ways you can instill goal setting and work ethic in your children. But running is definitely a way to show by example how to set a goal, work hard towards it, and achieve it.
8. Events are fun.
Sure, the last few miles of a marathon are not enjoyable at all; but running in an event is fun for many reasons. First, I often attend events with friends and family – its a very social experience. But you also get to be with hundreds or thousands of other runners that have worked hard to achieve something – its inspiring.
I personally often combine some sort of vacation with an out-of-town event; so running in more races, actually provides an excuse to go on more vacations. Overall, the events are social, positive, and family, friends, and even strangers are there cheering you on. What’s not fun about that?
9. Inspire Others.
I’ve already touched on this a bit with the “set an example” point; but I can think of several running stories that truly have inspired me to do more with not only my “running life” but in many other aspects of my life. I don’t know if I will personally ever inspire others with my own running accomplishments, but its a nice thought. By living through the ups and downs of running; and perhaps maybe, just maybe, I can do something inspiring with running that can helps others.
When I read a story here, about someone running their first marathon in 4:20, and then working hard for several years and then finishing a marathon in under 3 hours; its very inspiring!
And what is more inspiring than watching Olympic athletes cross the finish line in AMAZING times after training for 4 solid years? Perhaps we won’t be Olympic athletes, or drop over an hour off our marathon time, but we can motivate and inspire others in some small way as we accomplish our own goals.
10. What Else Would I Do?
If I didn’t run, I probably wouldn’t work physically as hard for anything. I am a competitive person by nature, and always enjoyed sports growing up. However, being an “old man”, there really aren’t alot of organized sports geared for adults. I joke that I could take up MMA and re-live some of my old wrestling glory, but as much as I’d like to punch some of the guys in the UFC, its not going to happen.
Most likely, if I were not running, I would spend the extra time watching TV and eating donuts. Sure, I’d get out and play a game of basketball or racquetball every once in a while; but I wouldn’t have anything truly pushing me or keeping me in shape.
Closing Up and Your Thoughts
Overall, I’m back to running and more committed than ever! I’m already working through what my next races will be and what my training schedule will look like.
So, even though I was on the brink of quitting; I’m glad in retrospect that I had a poor race. This has helped me to reflect and realize that there is much more to running than just accomplishing great race times and setting PRs. Obviously, I still think having a goal is important; but even if you don’t reach 100% of your goals, you will have still achieved a great deal.
So, follow along and see what I do with my new found motivation for running!
I would also love to hear your thoughts. Do you have any other reasons that you keep running? What benefits have you derived from training for a half-marathon, marathon, or other race? Leave a comment below.