17 Benefits Of Running

benefits of running

I often get asked why I spend between 5 and 10 hours per week running.

“Do you really have to run 75 – 100kms every week?”

“And what about your work? When do you get time to do that?”

Yes, spending 75 – 100kms is out of the ordinary.

In fact, the statistics show that as long distance runners we are in the absolute minority.

Less than 10% of people will complete a marathon in their lifetime.

Less than 5% of society will complete an ultra-marathon in their lifetime.

Less than 1% of society will complete the 89km long Comrades Marathon in their lifetime. After all, it is dubbed the “The Ultimate Human Race”.

Whilst running marathons and ultra-marathons is done by very few crazy people like myself, for the majority (the not so crazy), running 10 – 20kms per week is normal.

Although running 10 – 20kms per week is normal, a large part of society still wonder why road running is important.

Of more significance is that a large number of people who start out running know that running is important and has some key benefits. But, I doubt they spend enough time thinking about the extent of these benefits.

If they did, I doubt they would stop running.

I am driven by benefits. There’s absolutely no ways I’d spend 5 – 10 hours per week on something that doesn’t provide significant benefits.

More importantly, I believe these benefits are the same across the board, regardless of your mileage.

Let’s have a look at these benefits as I motivate why I really believe:

  • you should start running f you haven’t started
  • you should never stop running if you’ve started already

1. It is simple

No need for anything fancy. Literally, after reading this post you can decide to start running and be on the road tomorrow.

In a world of so many pre-requisites and complications, I really believe that simplicity is key. Running provides that.

However, I would highly recommend that you start out on a running for beginners programme. That means, you start out with a simple walk and then build up from there.

2. It gives you time out

Life is hectic because we design it that way – without being aware. That’s a topic for another post.

For now, it’s suffice to say: we all need time-out to plan, think, reflect and relax our minds.

Time-out is a great way of pro-actively managing stress. It is also a good way to manage stress re-actively.

Whilst it is great to plan, think things out carefully and execute – life is life and things spiral out of control at times. In some instances, it’s not your fault and you can do nothing to stop the chaos.

Be it pro-active or re-active, running provides a great way to manage the stress of life.

3. Family event

Because running is simple, it allows family participation.

Shorter runs are fantastic because your spouse or children can partake. If you are single like myself, you can enjoy occasional runs with your siblings or your partner.

Perhaps you have Judy – the family dog. You can take her for a jog every now and again.

4.Time efficient

Time is of the essence. In fact, time freedom is more important that monetary freedom. You can always recover money lost. Time lost, is not recoverable.

In an article on time wasted in traffic jams, the following was highlighted:

a number of institutes devoted to studying traffic congestion attest to the rising cost of traffic jams to cities and individuals. The Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI), which publishes quarterly reports on urban mobility, states that in the US alone, traffic congestion accounts for over $120 billion in wasted time, fuel, and money — a figure forecast to grow to $199 billion in 2020.”

If you drill that down to your personal situation, you will probably find that traffic wastes a lot of your money and time.

You can re-structure your day to avoid traffic congestion. For instance, I run in the mornings, during peak hour traffic. That simple strategy allows me to use my time more effectively.

I know of people who run to work in the mornings and back home after work. Of course, this depends on a number of other factors such as having an office job, living within reasonable distance from your work, etc.

All things being equal, reasonable and sensible, running is a fantastic way of using your time effectively.

5. Cost effective

No need for gym membership. No need for any fancy equipment.

With a mere pair of good running shoes, you are good to go. No activity or form of exercise comes any cheaper than running.

For those who run to and fro work, running is a mode of transport. Right there, is an opportunity to save a lot of money.

6. Improves networking

You are bound to meet a number of incredible people by joining a running club or participating in running events.

In an article published by Forbes, titled “6 Ways To Network More Effectively”, the following 2 are listed as part of the 6:

  • Meet-and-Mingle: it says meeting and mingling with people of similar interests is a powerful way of networking
  • Nurture and maintain strategic relationships: it says ideally you want between 5 and 10 strategic relationships. These are the relationships you want to keep in touch with

From the security guard who runs to stay physically fit, to the CEO who runs to stay mentally fit and escape the craziness of the corporate world, you will find strategic relationships that will change your life forever.

Don’t go out and use people. People will see right through that. But what you need to do is become aware that running provides you with a platform where people can add an incredible dynamic to your network of friends and acquaintances.

7. Weight loss and management

Road running is the best way to lose and maintain your weight. On average, the more regularly you run and fitter you become, you eventually start to use up more energy than any other form of exercise.

Once you start running in a group, you’ll find it harder to fall off the wagon because you’ll become accountable to others.

That way, it will be easier to be consistent and maintain your weight.

8. Improves your core

Whether we feel it or not, running engages and strengthens the mid-section.

A strong core improves posture, strengthens limbs, and helps make everyday activities a breeze.

9. Radiant Skin

Running has incredible benefits for your skin. I’ve seen my skin change incredibly. Yes, a part of it is the result of a changed diet. However, I can attribute a lot of the change directly to my running.

In an interview conducted by WebMD, Ellen Marmur, a dermatologist, professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and author of Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman’s Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin says the following:

“We tend to focus on the cardiovascular benefits of physical activity, and those are important. But anything that promotes healthy circulation also helps keep your  skin healthy and vibrant.”

She continues and says that by increasing blood flow, exercise helps nourish skin cells and keep them vital. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to working cells throughout the body, including the skin. In addition to providing oxygen, blood flow also helps carry away waste products, including free radicals, from working cells. Contrary to some claims, exercise doesn’t detoxify the skin. The job of neutralizing toxins belongs mostly to the liver. But by increasing blood flow, a bout of exercise helps flush cellular debris out of the system.

10. Keep diseases at bay

Running assists because it:

  • Lowers the risk of heart attack
  • Lowers Blood Pressure
  • Lowers risk of intestinal cancer: running improves digestive system
  • Balances cholesterol levels
  • Reduces Bone diseases

11. Enhances Life Purpose

This may come as a surprise, but running can contribute significantly towards your life purpose.

I mentioned earlier that one of the benefits of running is “taking time out” to think and reflect. During those solo runs, a lot goes through your mind when you think and reflect.

This happens especially if you head out on an early morning run when you are fresh and there are few distractions. Combined with the beauty of nature, the fresh aroma, the tweeting of birds – those runs can do amazing things in clarifying your life purpose as they are a form of meditation.

Further to that are the group runs. Depending on the number of kilometers, you spend a lot of time on the road with other people. By merely interacting and listening more than you talk, you’ll learn a lot.

At times, running clubs have annual events. Those events require preparation and the various contributions of people’s skills and talents. During the organizing and hosting of such events, you’ll find people who will speak into your life directly about your talents or gifts and that can change your life enormously.

12. Builds Life Endurance

Middle distance and long distance running builds your patience. Marathons and Ultra-Marathons are long. They require patience and tact.

How you run the race should be based on your training and personal strategy.

All of the above require patience and in the long run they develop life endurance in you.

You learn to live life in your own lane, patiently so, without the need to compete with others.

13. Improves Self Discipline

Running 2 – 5kms three times a week requires discipline. However small it may seem, it builds a life rhythm that hinges on self-discipline.

If you run on a Monday morning, it means rest and an early Sunday night. If you run on a Friday morning, it means sacrificing the Thursday chillas sessions.

If you enjoy your alcohol, it means going easy on the beers and the whiskey over the weekend.

You get my flow right?

Of course, the intensity and craziness increases exponentially when you train for crazy events like the Comrades Marathon and you’ve got to put in 75 – 100kms of training every week.

Running is quite unique in that once you start a run, you can’t just abort as you would on a treadmill when you feel tired. You can’t just abort as you would a set of weights if you feel tired.

Once you are on the road, you have to complete that run.

That increases your level of commitment in a manner that is second to none.

14. Productivity

Productivity is a combination of a healthy self-esteem, mental fitness and high energy levels.

A number of the previously mentioned benefits contribute to self-esteem, mental fitness and high energy levels.

With a clear sense of purpose, you are guaranteed to be productive. Remember, busyness doesn’t necessarily equate to productivity.

In fact, I’ve come to realize that “les is more”. Less activities, that are laser-focused on a few key outcomes, often yield an incredible amount of productivity.

A prime example is my day today.

All I did today (date of writing this post) is:

  • do some research for my blog post(2hrs) 03h30 – 5h30
  • go for an early morning 20km run (2hrs) 05h35 – 07h40
  • write the actual post (4hrs) 10h00 – 12h00 and 13h30 – 15h30
  • Read my bible (1hr) 18h00 – 19h00

I was up extremely early. I just had to be up at that crazy hour of the morning.

As you can see from above, I only completed 4 tasks, 2 of which were linked directly to my blog.

Was I hectically busy? I doubt it.

Was I productive? I think so. Based on my purpose and goals for 2015, I think I had a stellar day.

15. Ensures achievement of goals

Our goals should be long-term in nature. A break-down of the goals should provide medium and short term milestones that we use to measure our progress.

Let’s have a look at 2 examples:

Example 1:

  • I set a goal of running my first Comrades Marathon back in 2007
    • I completed my first Comrades in 2011 (4 years later)
      • The short and medium term goals were completing 10km, 21km and 42km runs

I’ve now completed 3 Comrdaes Marathons and will be running my 4th Comrades in May 2015. I have now refined my goal as follows:

  • Run 10 Comrades Marathons
    • Each Comrades Marathon has now become a mid-term goal
    • All preparations, including the 21km and 42km races are short-term goals

Example 2:

  • I want to generate a minimum of R1 million rands (approx. $100 000) using various blogs over the next 5 years. I set this goal back in 2009 and set out to achieve the goal in 10 years (long term goal).
    • In 2012, I started a blog on How To Create A Passive Income Business. I built the foundation for 12 months and parked the blog a bit due to a few challenges. I’m going to focus my attentions on that blog in 2016 or 2017.
    • In October 2014, I launched “Run For Wealth”. 

If I combine the principles and benefits of long distance running, especially those that helped me prepare and complete the Comrades Marathon, I am pretty confident I will achieve all the goals that I have set in my life.

It might not happen in the prescribed time-frames. I might happen after or better still, before, but one thing is guaranteed, I will achieve them.

16. Rest

One of the best benefits of running is understanding the power of rest.

The days of rest in your weekly routine are important even though as a beginner you might be running low mileage.

For us as long distance athletes, rest is vital. The breaks you take during your long runs is vital. The days of rest in between your training runs is vital.

Rest re-energizes you. It ensures you are able to perform at peak levels in anything you.

And yet, because of the hectic lives we live, we have missed out on the power of rest.

17. Live Longer

Ultimately, I want to live a long and fulfilled life. I want to enjoy life, my children, grand-children and maybe (big maybe) my great grand-children. I want to be lively in my latter ages.

I have an 80 year old business partner who is a live-wire to say the least. He is a subtle reminder why I need to take care of myself, keep healthy and cherish this beautiful hobby called running.

Conclusion

This has been a long post – deliberately so. Any activity we participate in has to have benefits – especially in the long term. Those benefits drive us. They get us out of bed on the worst of days. They give meaning to life.

Activity:

  • List the benefits to your daily activities
  • Simply list your day to day activities and come up with a comprehensive list of benefits
  • Remove activities that provide no benefit

God Bless!

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