I’m a runner. Not a jogger. A runner. My pace might seem like jogging, but it’s running.
I’m often asked, “Kent, why do you run?” The short answer is because I enjoy it. However, I’d like to share the longer answer with you because the longer answer contains ideas on how each of us can improve ourselves. I hope the following ten reasons for why I run will inspire you to consider running as well as give you ideas on how to improve yourself.
10 Reasons Why I Run (In No Particular Order)
1. Running improves my thinking and focus. When it comes to running, I’m a purest. No iPod. No earbuds. No music. I listen to the sounds of nature, to my feet hitting the ground, and to my lungs breathing in and out. I let my mind go. It wanders (and wonders) from thought to thought and often arrives at some creative idea I would have never thought of if my body wasn’t preoccupied with running. Most of my best ideas and greatest problem-solving moments have come when I’m out pounding the pavement. For me, this is one of the greatest benefits of running.
2. Running energizes me. I’m not sure why it works this way, but when I expend energy running, within a few minutes of cooling down and stretching at the end of my run, I have more energy than before I started out the door. Could you use more energy? Try expending it first. You’ll be surprised at the amount of additional energy that comes back in return.
3. Running makes me healthier. This is one of those No-Duh statements, but it still needs to be written here. Running for weight loss is one of the many benefits of running. By logging between 12-20 miles a week, I’m leaner, my heart rate is lower, and my immune system functions better.
4. Running keeps my competitive juices flowing. I run six to eight road races a year. During these races, I’m really not competing against other runners, I’m competing against myself. I strive to set PRs (i.e. Personal Records) or hit specific goals. Sure, there are moments when I try to out run another racer, especially if I think I can beat someone younger than me, but my number one priority is to run my race and reach my goals.
5. Running makes me a better goal setter and goal getter. Speaking of goals, running is a fantastic way to practice setting and achieving goals. In my mind, there isn’t a better way to improve yourself than to learn the art of goal setting and goal getting.
6. Running gives me a sense of accomplishment. Every time I choose to run, I accomplish something significant. In fact, there are days when I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything, yet when I lace up my shoes and go out for a run, all that changes. Wondering how to improve yourself on any given day…even the days when nothing seems to go right? Lace up your running shoes and head on out the door!
7. Running is a fantastic stress reliever. Nothing relieves stress like taking a run. Worry, anxiety, and tension all melt away with each step and each drop of sweat.
8. Running equals community. If you’ve ever participated in a 5k, 10k, half marathon, or marathon, you know what I’m talking about. Although running is an individual sport, races and running clubs are the places where individual runners gather to celebrate life together. I love the community of people I’ve met through local road races and weekly running groups. They come from different backgrounds, different ethnicities, and different economic statuses, but they all have one thing in common: they value self improvement. As I like to say, “You can’t be a slacker and be a runner.”
9. Running offers additional benefits. In order to be an efficient runner, you need to remain limber and sturdy. That’s why I do a lot of stretching and strength training. What this means is running can improve your overall flexibility and strength because one of the benefits of running is it usually causes you to add other positive disciplines into your weekly routine.
10. Running makes me disciplined. As I mentioned earlier, you can’t be a slacker and be a runner. Simply put, it takes discipline to be a runner and discipline is always a key factor in how to improve yourself.
BONUS TIME: I can’t resist adding additional value, so here is one more reason to run, and it’s probably the most important benefits of running to me. I run because I love it! I’m not the best runner. I’m not even built for running (I’m built more like a football player than a long-distance runner). But I’m passionate about it. I absolutely come alive when I run. To me, this is the best means for how to improve yourself—invest in activities you are passionate about, and that make you come alive!
Questions For How To Improve Yourself: What activities are you passionate about? How have you made these activities part of your regular routine? Are there any other self-improvement tips you’d like to share?
Photo: Flickr/ Kasia
This article originally appeared on Live It Forward.