- Exploration – This one is huge for me. The opportunity to explore new areas both local and nationwide (sometimes global) presented by running is one of my biggest motivations for doing it. Granted, a lot of the time I will stick to the same routes in training but over the years, some of the locations and areas I have ran through I simply wouldn’t have come across without taking part in a run! Whether it’s an adventurous trail, a challenging fell, some new roads or just a location with brilliant views, I likely wouldn’t have come across it without running. For me, it’s a great way to explore a new area, especially abroad or in a city and can even be a potential mode of transport for a commute! Some of my favorite runs have been commuting into my University in recent years!
- Targets and Focus – Another significant benefit of running for myself is the ability to set meaningful targets and chase them. Especially with the daily challenges of work or study, running gives you something to look forward to whether it’s that same day e.g. simply heading out for a run after work or targeting a Marathon PB in months to come. Whatever it is, the chance to have a focus on a particular event or milestone is a great thing especially if you can achieve it. Right now, my targets involve The Great North Run (assuming it goes ahead!) and improving my personal bests for the shorter distances but most importantly remaining consistent and healthy and hopefully avoiding injury!
- Positive community – Whether it’s your local parkrun, local club or runners you have come across through social media, the large majority of the running community are extremely positive and supportive all united through the activity of running. Many people you come across in whatever form, whether in person or virtual become great friends of which you can trust and communicate with regularly about a variety of topics, not all running related of course! I’ve been lucky meeting loads of people through my local club, parkrun and online that I likely wouldn’t have met at all without running. This is one of running’s biggest strengths in my opinion.
- Variability – The differences in runners training schedule/plans even if they are targeting the same race can be completely different. It’s very rare to see two people have exactly the same plan for their target race which makes it more exciting. Most people know that generally increasing mileage and adding speedwork with adequate recovery will yield results but the amount of variability in each individual program can be vast. Therefore, on race day, it’s often a total lottery as to who is going to achieve their target time and who isn’t. There is no one size fits all for running and that adds to its appeal for me! I love varying up my training as best I can to see what is the most productive or beneficial or simply fun!
- Mental and Physical Benefits – Most people would agree that the feeling after you finish a run, or a race is very positive, often referred to as a “runners high”! A morning run can put you in a great mindset and mood for the rest of the day. The mental benefits are clear to see. Likewise, the physical benefits of running whether that be fat loss, heart health or increased lean muscle mass can be experienced regularly and significantly. Running has clearly changed many people’s lives in this aspect in so many ways. Consequently, the impact of an injury, especially long-lasting can be quite brutal for any individual that may experience it which is important to note too. I suffered a bad injury at the start of the year but I’m glad to be back on track now!
Overall, running has so many benefits for so many people and there is good reason why it is increasingly popular throughout the UK and worldwide!