Can Running really make you Feel Good?

Running… It seems you either love it or hate it. People that Run can’t stop talking about it and people that don’t Run really seem to loathe it.

Personally I’ve been on both sides of the fence – obviously now that I’m writing this post I’ve been converted and can confidently say I’m a true lover of Running and the many benefits it brings. Especially how good it makes you feel.

I thought I’d share a brief summary of my journey and how I found the elusive ‘runners high’ to hopefully inspire you to give Running a go yourself.

My Running Journey

Even if you’re not a runner you’ve probably heard about the ‘Runners high’. If not, I’m sure you’ve got that (annoying) friend that runs & has told you on numerous occasions how awesome running is and that it’ll fix all your problems… Sound familiar? This rings true with me & I was definitely a sceptic….

My now wife and partner at Running Republic was the one that got me into running – at first it was tough, she used to constantly annoy me about going for a run and how good it would make me feel.  “You’ll never feel worse for doing it,” she’d say.

In the beginning it did anything but; I’ve always played sports and trained at the gym regularly enough, so I thought I was pretty fit….Wrong! When I started running I realised how out of shape I actually was, so it was a struggle to say the least, and I certainly wasn’t getting any ‘high’ from it.

I’ll give her credit for persisting though, as in the early stages I wasn’t the best running partner. I’d whinge and moan, constantly battling with the idea of even going in the first place. But she knew that if she could get me running with some consistency that things would change, the same way it did for her… (Plus she probably thought a few kilos off my waist wouldn’t hurt either).

Then one day – BOOM, it happened!

We were doing our usual run, which started normally with me just going through the motions, then suddenly a wave of positive emotion ran through me. I was running with ease and all these positive thoughts were running through my head. I was having new ideas about my direction in life, marriage, business & more. I hadn’t felt this good while exercising ever!

Now I had always felt a sense of accomplishment when I finished a run, mainly due to the fact that I had found the motivation to get through it, but this was different. It was the first time I really felt that ‘runners high’ and that I could achieve anything!

So what causes this increased sense of Euphoria?

It was long thought that the cause of this ‘Runners High’ was due to endorphins being released into the brain. Endorphins act as a natural “drug” that make a person more energetic, more awake and happier, giving you that sense of Euphoria.

The trouble was in the past there wasn’t the technology to prove conclusively that running & other exercise did actually cause this. There were elevated levels of endorphins found in athlete’s blood after a run, but that’s just the body’s mechanism for dealing with stress.

But now with advances in technology and neuroscience it’s been shown that “Running does elicit a flood of endorphins in the brain. The endorphins are associated with mood changes, and the more endorphins a runner’s body pumps out, the greater the effect,” as stated in the ‘Cerebral Cortex’ journal by German researchers.

Does it last?

Three years on and it’s only gotten better! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you reach a point and running becomes easy (if this happens you just need to run further), but now it seems my brain and body are in tune, and every time I go for a run I get a lot more than just fitness benefits out of it.

It might sound strange but when you get to this stage running is like a kind of medicine. If I’m feeling stressed, overloaded or anxious about anything I’ll go for a run and feel instant relief. Even if I’m struggling to solve a problem or need to find some creativity I’ll go for a run.

More and more studies around running and exercise are backing this up. A 2012 study in the Journal of Adolescent Health proved that just 30 minutes of running during the week for three weeks boosted sleep quality, mood, and concentration during the day. So why wouldn’t you give it a go?

The knock on effect

For me running was the catalyst for what has now turned into a healthier & happier life, and it can be for you too.

Once I started running regularly it made me more conscious of what I was putting into my body. If I wanted to improve I had to make better choices with what I was eating & also how much alcohol I was consuming.

It also lead me to start paying attention to other areas of exercise. I started swimming again, and started using the gym membership more than just once a week or so.

Now I’ve competed in various running events, swimming events and triathlons, just to name a few. I’ve lost 10kg’s without a single ‘diet’ and will never go back to the person I was before I started running because I’m not only happier where I’m at now, but I really enjoy doing it!

All this because 3 years ago I decided to give Running a chance and found the elusive ‘Runners High’.

Do you have a similar story you’d like to share about Running? Feel free to leave a comment below to help motivate our fellow Republicans.

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