Why running is good for your mind
Reading time: 3 minute(s) - 600 words
I’m taking part in RED January again this year. The idea is simple: do something active every day for the whole month. Most runners see that as a challenge for their bodies. I see it as a challenge for my mind…
I’m running - slowly. But I am running. It’s 2AM and the rain that lasted all day has finally moved on.
The five-mile circuit I’ve been running for hours is a muddy bog in places. My feet are wet again and my trainers are twice the weight they should be because of the mud clinging to them.
My legs feel like the trunks of the rain sodden trees I pass on each lap. My upper body has been aching for hours and I have no more clean t-shirts.
But I’m still running.
Unlike many of my fellow competitors who have retired to their tents.
Unlike some of my fellow competitors who have chosen to walk.
That’s not to say I don’t walk once in a while myself. When I think my body will stop all on its own.
I’ve been going for 14 hours. This is a 24 hour event so there’s a while to go. But I’m still running. And I wonder how that is.
Because my body broke somewhere around the 40-mile point. I stopped briefly for something to eat and I felt better. Still broken, but able to keep on moving.
That’s not the answer. So what, then?
I came back round to the start and called my number to the lap counting officials. Then set off for another one. I realised what was keeping me going.
I didn’t want to stop.
That’s it. That’s all there is to it. I didn’t want to stop. And while that condition remained true I knew I would keep running (with a walk here and there).
You see, my mind took over at some point in the day. I’m not sure exactly when. But it had control and kept sending me out for laps.
You can do this, it would say. Not shouting or ranting. Just a simple, calm message that I could do it.
I’m not sure where the clarity came from. And I’m definitely not claiming to be superman or something. It was a case of mind over matter.
I wanted to run for as many of the 24 hours that I could. I decided that at the start when the rain fell and the mud thickened.
And I’m a stubborn bugger. I don’t like giving up.
When you set your running goals they can seem miles away. It can seem as though you’ll never hit them. But it’s the effort and the journey that keeps you going out there every day.
We wouldn’t bother otherwise would we? What would be the point?
Running is good for your mind. That’s the thing I’ve learned. It improves how you feel and it gives you focus. The fact that it’s also good for my body is a happy side effect.
That’s why I like to support the Mind charity during January. Running gives me a peace of mind that I’d struggle to be without.