I participate in a group 5k (3.1 miles) run with a local running store on Monday evenings at 6:00. Sometimes, this is the only run I do in a given week. I look forward to it because it’s a low-pressure, “fun run” experience during which I focus on technique, pacing, and breathing. As I prepare for the Marine Corps Marathon, which is the last Sunday in October, I plan to factor these runs into my training schedule.
People have asked me why I choose to run. They do not understand “the point.” I was once one of those people, unsure as to why anyone would voluntarily subject their body to such fruitless punishment. However, I am now on the other side of such scrutiny. It is humorously ironic to say the least. There is a method to my madness, a point to my path.
Here are three reasons why I choose to run and why you should consider running too.
1. Running helps me think.
Before I became a runner, it baffled me when other runners said running helped them to think. “How can you think while running” I quipped. A nice evening stroll, a drive down a country road, an easy read at Starbucks. These seem like ideal activities for thinking. But, running?
While this will not be everybody’s testimony, I have found running to be a catalyst to deep, clear thinking. As a pastor, there are times when sermon ideas blossom while running. As a husband, I am able to reflect on my relationship with my wife. As a runner, I can reflect on certain training tips and practice them while running.
As you run, you may be surprised at the increased clarity you will experience. Plus, as you run and think, you are strengthening your overall health. It’s a win-win.
2. Running is a competition against myself.
I don’t always feel like running. In fact, 4 days out of 7, I do not feel like running. I enjoy the feelings that come when I finish a run (well, except for the occasional muscle fatigue). But, I don’t always look forward to preparing for a run and starting that run. This is because running is not just a physical exercise. It is also a mental test. Can I overcome all of the reasons not to run? Can I silence the voices in my head that encourage me to wait until tomorrow?
As a dominant sanguine, I lean toward spontaneity. Because running requires some type of structure or plan, it helps me commit to consistency, discipline, and order. Running is a competition against myself, my tendency to procrastinate, and my preference for leisure and relaxation. Thus, my weekly Monday fun run! Every time I start a run, I choose to challenge and conquer myself all over again.
You should compete against yourself by choosing to run. Again, it’s a win-win endeavor. Growth is a natural byproduct of self-competition. You get to know your strengths and weaknesses. The lessons of self-competition gleaned from running can be applied to other areas of your life.
3. Running emphasizes delayed gratification.
Whether I’m running a one mile training run or surrounded by thousands of runners at the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, it takes time to reach the finish line. Running is not a microwavable activity.
My first sports love is American football. However, I’ve played more basketball throughout the years. Both are stop-and-go sports, which are characterized by strategic drives, bursts of speed, and fast breaks. The end zone and basket are within eye sight, even from the other side of the field/court. Running is different.
Running requires me to envision the finish line without seeing the finish line. Even when the starting line is the finish line, I have to complete a course before seeing it again. The gratifying feeling that overtakes my body when I cross the finish line is delayed. First, I have to run.
In a fast-paced world, delaying gratification isn’t always encouraged. Shortcuts are highlighted; the fast lane praised. However, there is no substitute for the the type of character one develops when he delays gratification. It took over 5 hours for me to complete my first marathon; months to prepare. There were moments when the end seemed like an illusion. When I finally crossed the finish line, the satisfaction of completion was well-worth the delay.
When you choose to run, you will strengthen your ability to delay gratification. You will learn to enjoy the journey toward the destination. You will begin to define success as every forward step in the right direction.
So, how about it? Want to go on a run?