For sure you have heard a lot about running. “Running will help keeping your brain and body healthy”, “After you start, you will not quit easily,” “I feel so much better after a daily jog”.
But why isn’t it enough for you to start? What is running all about? Here are a couple of reasons why you definitely should consider running, and a few easy tips on how to start a running routine.
Running boosts your self-control and enhances learning skills
Based my own example, I know how hard it is to stay motivated and keep pushing yourself, but the payoff is so much greater than the effort made. After just a few minutes of sprint, you stimulate the “executive” part of your brain—the frontal lobe and stay boosted for around 45 minutes afterward. By stimulating your brain, you will make better decisions more easily and have more power to constantly challenge yourself. I once heard that running can increase your learning and memorizing abilities over 20%.
Running makes you more agile
Interval running helps you stimulate the frontal lobe, which makes you more cognitively flexible.
Running helps you clear your mind
Many experienced runners acknowledge that running does quiet your mind. Because you motivate yourself and—as the Jeff’s Galloway book puts it—not allow the primary “monkey brain” to take control, you reduce stress as a result. This, in turn, makes certain parts of your brain less active, and you feel calm and relaxed.
Running makes you develop new brain cells
Yes, being an adult does not mean you can’t get any smarter than you already are. Humans can develop new brain cells throughout life, and running can speed up this process.
Running helps you deal with stress
Had a rough day at work? Some things haven’t worked out your way? What can you do about it? The answer is simple: go for a run. You will definitely feel much better after that. Running, as a physical effort, releases happiness hormones that make you elated and filled with positive energy. After a run, your brain is stimulated enough to help you deal with any difficulty. For more information about the hormones that drive our happiness, see How to be happier?.
Already want to put your running shoes on?
Before you go and take your chances, I recommend you read any of Jeff’s Galloway books about running. You will find more interesting facts about running and useful advice on how to stay motivated each day.
Why is it so hard to start running?
Humans are programmed the same way they were hundreds of years ago. Back then, we used to hunt for food, run away from our natural enemies, etc. Our brains, however, still have these behaviors and skills hard-coded. Running reminds us of those primal conditions, based on which our hormones make us stressed.
As you see, it’s natural for our brain to try to protect us from all risks and stressful situations, and sends negative emotions, so we end up on a couch, watching tv.
To overcome this, you need to change that natural brain reaction and create good feelings about running. Think of all the good vibes and emotions you feel after finishing your run. You feel happy, boosted with energy. That’s what you should always keep in your memory.
To stay motivated, keep your running clothes always handy, for example, in a car, by the door. After some time, when you see these little hints, your brain would recall the good memories connected with that “happy state” and will not discourage you from running. Our brain sees running as a stressful activity and challenging effort. That’s why we are more likely to stay home and watch a movie than stay out of our comfort zones and go for a run.
Taking that thought even a step further, keep in mind that all good things in our lives take place outside of our comfort zones, so grab your running shoes and go make yourself happier! Think of running similarly to walking a dog. Train yourself to feel excited like a dog before a walk. Your running shoes should remind you of the joyful moments, just like a leash does to a dog.
Why do I think running makes you more agile?
Because after running my brain is empty. I mean, I’m exhausted, yet my mind is sharp and clear. I keep it so focused on running that as soon as I’m done I have my mind clear and open for new thoughts. And I really enjoy being in that state of mind.
Some people travel all the way to Nepal to find peace of mind. Me? I just go for a run and afterward feel happy like a puppy after a long walk. So, what do I do before every important meeting? You got it right! I go for a run to clear my mind.
Having a hard time achieving your running goals? Just smile to yourself, ask your body for more energy, and it will help you out. I can assure you it’ll listen. And yes, we, humans, are such strangely “programmed” creatures. 🙂