“Laura, you haven’t blogged for quite a while- what happened?” You may be thinking. I’ll tell you what happened. I got sick. Then I got better and got sick AGAIN. I am currently sick. I will probably still be sick tomorrow. Being sick sucks, especially when you’re a parent but it’s even worse when you’re a runner.
I have not had the capacity to do dishes, laundry, get groceries, cook or play with my kids for 5 days now and have been unable to go for a run in 7 days. Honestly, I’m more upset about missing my runs that I am about the lack of clean underwear or food in the house. Not being able to run has reminded me of all the reasons why I love running… here are 13.1 of them:
1. Running makes me feel healthy. (That was easy given my current state.) Whenever I complete a run, no matter the distance, I take a deep breathe knowing that I just did something to improve my health and well-being- there’s nothing like a good cardiovascular work out to achieve that!
2. Running helps you live longer. Anything I can do to lengthen my time on this earth, surrounded by my family and friends, I will do. It is proven that running reduces your risk of heart disease, cancer, and neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Now that’s a great return for our efforts!
3. Running makes you smarter. We are all well aware that exercise increases brain activity, but scientists have also discovered that hundreds of thousands of new cells are created in the brain’s grey matter (that area of the mind that controls memory and learning) after running for only a few days! (And we all need all the help we can get there, am I right?)
4. Running is the one thing in my life, right now, that I improve at the more I do. As a stay-at-home mom, I’m not really going to get better at doing the laundry or the grocery shopping or any of the day-to-day tasks associated with maintaining a home; but, I do see my running improve and that is such an awesome feeling of accomplishment. I’ve gotten faster, stronger, and more consistent over the years, I’m still achieving PRs, as well as taking on longer distances. I’m proud of my kids and my family, but I am also very proud of myself. Running has taught me how to push beyond my limits and has proven to me that I can and will achieve my goals.
5. Running keeps my belly flat. After having my second child, I noticed that what remained was this nice pouch where my flat belly used to be. Once I started running, that flap got flatter and flatter. Running burns, the type of fat that lives in the abdominal-baby-flap area of the body. Having a flat(ish) tummy again is great motivation to lace those sneakers and hit the road! (Alright, I’m a woman, I’m vain too, I admit it.)
6. Running clothes are so very cute and comfortable. I have a lot of sports apparel. Too much. I have more workout clothes than day-to-day clothes. Seriously. The dresser drawer that houses my running gear just broke from the weight of it all. Not kidding. I’m not really joking when I tell my friends that I wish I could just wear running clothes everywhere I go- there’s nothing as comfy to me as a perfect fit running capri, high quality tech tee, and broken in running shoes.
7. Running allows me to eat. And I LOVE to eat! You can’t really run and not eat- training for a marathon is not a weight loss plan- your body needs the fuel in order to push the distance and now, I don’t eat to be skinny, I eat to be healthy and to nourish my hard-working muscles. I have never, ever before in my life thought about nutrition on such a basic level as I do now that I am training for another marathon. And on those days of 14, 16, 18, or 20 miles I eat that bacon cheeseburger and drink that big glass of red wine with pride, I tell ya!
8. Running keeps me happy. I have never finished a run sad. I am always much happier. Running is such a great stress reliever, I always say that the run is always hard but my life is so much easier because of it, and that is very true. We all know that endorphins- the hormones that create a sense of exhilaration- are released when you run, an all natural high, so to speak!
9. Running has improved my sleep habits. The older we get, the more important it is to carve out that easy, restful, peaceful 8-10 hours of slumber each night. Since I am one of those crazy go-for-a-run-at-the-butt-crack-of-dawn types, I habitually go to bed by 9:30pm every night. The sleep I do get now, as a runner, is oh so satisfying! I go to bed tired from that morning’s effort and wake up feeling refreshed, thankful for my health (current state excepted) and ready to take on the day.
10. Running has given me mental fortitude. I won’t lie to you, running was not easy at first. I couldn’t breathe, there was pain in every joint, and I felt like a 2 ton elephant. But after a just few tries, my body started to adjust, and what seemed impossible (run 20 miles???? Are you freaking KIDDING ME????) became something that I could easily manage. I keep proving to myself time and time again that I’m much stronger than I think and if I just believe in my ability, I can do anything. As Coach Al says, it’s mind over matter. And if you don’t mind, it don’t matter!
11. Running has allowed me to see my favorite city in a whole new way. Born and raised here in the Bay Area of Northern California, I thought I knew Oakland and its surrounding cities pretty well- happily, I was wrong. Not until I joined Team in Training did I learn of the beautiful paths and running trails that are so easily accessible not to mention breathtaking. Racing in all different cities is also a goal of mine- running remains while the backdrop always changes.
12. I love running because of the people! My personal bias aside, runners are just great people. I can’t tell you how many races I have done where I have easily started chatting with a group of other runners, making fast friends. This thing we have in common truly binds us all. I also learned this lesson again with Team in Training, and now on my second season, I can attest that running (especially running for a cause) brings together, generous, like-minded people. Running has given me friends for life.
13. Running clears my mind and gives me the energy to take on the day. Anytime I spend running is refreshing, relaxing, rejuvenating and peaceful. If I’m working on an issue, I find that with each step, my mind files away the good stuff, tosses the junk, and organizes what’s really important. After the run, my mental “inbox” is cleaned out, my head left clear, my thoughts sharp, and my disposition agreeable.
13.1. Medals. I’m a whore for the hardware. ‘Nough said.
Now it’s your turn! What do you love most about running?