When I was little, I loathed running. My parents always joke about how I always “ran to chase the ice cream man”, but what kid wouldn’t to get some ice cream? Regardless, I still hated it. I did end up signing up for cross country my sophomore year of High School, but only to “lose weight” for prom and get a school sweatshirt. Then through college, if I decided to go to the gym to work out I avoided the treadmill like the plague. I just never cared to run.
Then suddenly, the summer before my senior year of college started, I had this intense urge to go on a run on a really nice day. The most rando urge I have ever had, especially since I don’t like running. I think I might have been stressed or upset over something or someone, and I just needed to do something with my built up emotions. And so, I laced up my sneakers that I was still using from my High School running days (I was still using them since they were hardly used- I only wore them to bike in so they lasted for years) and I started running.
For some reason, I just loved it. I felt free and got that runners high people talk about that I never understood. There was something about running in the city of Burlington that gave me energy and pushed me to try harder. Now I have tried running around my neighborhood back in Schenectady, and I never liked it. It’s too flat of roads and there’s no scenic routes. But running in a city, even a microscopic one like Burlington, was such an exciting change.
I wanted to write today about running because I feel like its something that has really improved my life. The mental and physical benefits of running that I have found through research online, as well as the joy of running in the New York City, have really helped me cope and become a happier, healthier person, which is why I want to share what I’ve discovered about running with you.
The Physical Benefits:
Since running is a form of cardiovascular exercise, there are some physical health benefits (obviously). Some of the benefits of running, as well as jogging, include building stronger bones and muscles, burning calories, as well as help maintain an overall healthy weight. A big health benefit running also has is that it reduces the risk of you dying from a cardiovascular disease, cutting your chances in half of dying from heart disease. You get to burn calories, gain lean muscle, and workout multiple different muscle groups to give you an all-body universal workout. I always like to engage my stomach when I run and feel how cold it is afterwards (I was told once that when your stomach is cold while you work out, it means you’re working out your abs, but I can’t remember where I heard it so who knows if it’s right!) My favorite part after a run is when I get home and can see how sweaty I got. I love it because it feels live I’ve proven to myself that I worked hard and improved myself by sticking too it.
The Mental Benefits:
Running can act as a therapy for your mental health as well. When you run, your brain produces endorphins and endocannabinoids, AKA the feel good chemicals that make you feel all happy and proud inside. I know when I on my early morning runs, I feel happier throughout the day and feel more focused and awake. It acts as a form of meditation in some ways; you can literally run away from stressful situations and come back feeling refreshed and more open minded. It’s such a cool feeling when you get into a stride that matches the music you have playing in your ears; you go into a trance of sorts and disappear into the run and feel like you’re flying.
The New York City Benefits:
Running around this big city has helped me stay motivated in exploring everything it has to offer. When I run down the avenues and streets early in the morning before work, I get to explore a new kind of city. I get to see it with mostly early commuters and fellow runners. Hardly any tourist, no selfie sticks to limbo under (thank God), and a lot less foot and car traffic. I love it. Plus, I know one of the big fears of running outdoors that people have is that everyone can see you running. But for me, I find a lot of comfort in the fact that every person I run by, I will never see them again. A city has so many people around that the odds of me running into someone I ran past for one second and actually remembering their face, and they remembering mine, is so slim. That way I feel like I’m invisible to everyone around me and can just keep moving. And by running around different streets, I get to find new places like bars and shops and restaurants I might want to visit in the future.
Becoming someone who loves running was something I could never have predicted for myself. I literally despised running just 3 years ago, and now I get antsy if I don’t get to go on my run. Living in a city like New York can easily get stressful and overwhelming so if you ever feel stressed out or overwhelmed, going on a light jog might help you recenter thoughts, goals, and your overall self. -MB
**all the facts stated have been linked to their original articles. all pictures are from Google Images and I do not own any of them.