It was a Tuesday like any other. I woke up with the greatest intentions to be productive, do chores around the house, and bake a nice batch of muffins... but then I started watching Game of Thrones. Slowly, my day slipped away as I found myself in the middle of yet another binge (in other news, I'm now almost done with season 2- no spoilers please!). Normally, I begin every day with exercise, but I didn't yesterday, and it really affected the rest of my waking hours. I worried that I would never be able to muster up the motivation to move, but after several more hours of lazing in front of my computer, I realized that if I didn't exercise, I wouldn't be hungry for the amazing dinner I had planned. So, for the first time in two months, I laced up my shoes for a 3-mile run.
At the beginning of this year, I severely injured my hip flexor by over-training. It left me unable to do any of the workouts I loved- actually, I was barely able to walk for more than a mile. I became scared of running, because running too many miles was what injured me in the first place, and every time I ran I felt a twinge that warned me not to overdo it again. So I stopped altogether, even though running is the one form of exercise that's always helped me through tough times. I kept up my cardio by going to a TON of spin classes and classes that incorporated sprint intervals (Barry's, Sweat Garage, etc), which is technically "running," but I never went on the long runs I used to love. I missed my favorite form of exercise, but I had also grown afraid of it.
I don't know what is was that pushed me out the door yesterday, especially after such a massively long hiatus from running, but I'm SO thankful that I went. And to avoid ranting on forever and ever about my life and running and how the two are inextricably intertwined, I'm going to make a list of the reasons why I love running, in the hopes that it might inspire you to love it, too!
1) Instant mood lifter. Seriously, I was down in the dumps today, and my run brought me right back up. There is NOTHING in this world that feels as good as a runner's high! The pic below is of me after the Color Run in Nashville, which I actually really struggled with (I felt like I was going to choke on paint powder the entire time)- but I still was so happy to have gotten out there and done something! And for people who struggle with depression, like yours truly, running is seriously the best form of therapy/medicine you can find.
2) Helps you EXPLORE. On my run today, I came across a new neighborhood that is home to all of these restaurants and storefronts that I've been trying to find for so long! Salt & Straw, I'm coming for you. I also love to run when on vacation in a new place. It's so fun to pick a place and just run and see where it takes you! And just from personal experience, running the Golden Gate is so much more fun than walking or driving it.
3) Great for creative people in need of inspiration. In my spare time, I like to practice my creative writing skills and start novels that I typically never finish. I haven't had the inspiration to start one in a really long time, but today, I got the best idea that for a story that I'm now really excited to start writing! Running helps you get lost in your thoughts, at least once you find a rhythm, and that's AMAZING for creative people who've gotten a bit stuck in a rut.
4) Leans out the legs/body. Honestly, one of the reasons I stopped running was because every fitness guru out there (ahem Kayla Itsines) kept saying that weight lifting and HIIT cardio were the only two ways to lean out your body. I have super muscular legs, and they get bulky easily, and while weight lifting does help to lean them out, NOTHING has the effect on them that running does. I'm excited to start running again and get that old lean definition back!
5) Helps you connect with your body. I have been feeling a lot happier lately, but I was having a blah day yesterday, and I was really getting down on myself about my body (a typical occurrence in my life). Running for three miles and pushing myself past the initial soreness helped me both appreciate my body and connect to it in a way that I haven't experienced in a while. I love spin class and Barry's and barre, but there's something so special about just going out there in your running shoes and depending only on your body to propel you forward. It makes you appreciate the legs you might hate from a visual standpoint, and it also helps you get in touch with how your body feels, something we often choose to ignore.
I think it's really easy to claim you hate running because it's boring or hard or whatever, and I understand that. I used to absolutely hate it- seriously!!! But if you can commit to running a few times a week for a month, you'll start feeling more fit, more free, and more capable of anything life throws your way. You'll learn to love your body, because you'll be depending on it so heavily. I've truly never loved my body as much as I did after my half marathon last year (pictured above)- I felt so strong and powerful! But BEST of all, you'll discover that mystical, magical runner's high, and believe me, once you feel it, you'll never want to go back!