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Emotional Benefits of Running

5 Things You Learn About Yourself While Running

Woman running

I love doing a variety of fit activities, whether it's a HIIT class, ballet, weight training, barre, running, or what have you. Each activity has a different body and mind benefit. When I dance, I can only think about each movement and everything else melts away. When I run . . . I can think about, well, everything.

Out of all the fit things I love to do, I find I do my best thinking while running. Perhaps it's because running is something that comes automatically without much thought. Sure, you have to avoid tripping over a rock or slipping, but the movement is instinctual . . . fight or flight, right?

As I run, I find that my thoughts are clear and logical, and it allows me an emotional release. Whether I am making up solutions as I run miles or releasing feelings, I learn so much about myself while running. We all can. If we solely ran for the physical benefits, we'd probably find something easier to do, but there are so many mental benefits from running that you can't help but be addicted to what running does to your brain.

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1. You Learn How You Really Feel

When you run, don't be surprised when every emotion comes pouring out of your body. Happiness and joy. Rapid quick thoughts of anxiety. Tears of sadness or joy. I can count on many fingers the amount of times I have been running and crying. Perhaps it should be my hashtag.

When I run, I release. I release my hidden feelings and not-so-hidden feelings. There is no pretension and there is no one to please. I can feel what I want and, sometimes, feel things that perhaps I don't want to feel.

It's as if there is a faucet on my head that opens up when I'm running and out rushes everything that had been contained before.

2. You Learn What to Do

Have a problem? Try running. Run for a good long time or even a short sprint and I guarantee you that, eventually, you'll find an answer to your problem.

Whether it is a relationship issue or a work issue — no matter what the case — I can usually uncover a solution or untangle some of my thoughts while running. There is really no better activity for uncovering logic than running. Any and all major decisions should be debated over while pounding the pavement, sand, grass, or treadmill.

3. You Learn How Your Body Really Feels

Whenever I run, I can tell how my body feels right away. If I am tired, I feel it. If I am sore from an intense workout the day before or sore from a bad night's sleep, I feel it.

If I feel amazing and loose and free, I feel it. If my shoulders are tight from stress . . . it's there as I run. If my abs feel great from an intense plank workout, the glory is all there.

My heart tells the truth as I run, letting out my emotions, and my body is the same. It just can't lie to me. All of my aches, pains, strengths, and victories run with me.

When you run, you know your body is either talking at you or going with you. It's almost as if your body gives you a little wellness check-up with each quickened pace.

4. You Learn How to Push Yourself

When you run, you might be doggone tired. When you run, you might really be too busy to head out, but you can't stand the thought of missing a run.

You learn how and when to push yourself.

You learn that a burn in your body can be a damn good thing. You learn that an ache in the heel means it's time to ease up.

You learn that a hot sweaty day is no excuse to stay home.

You learn how and when to push yourself.

Running is an art form of self-discipline and stamina. In many ways, it helps you master yourself, teaches you to be the best you.

5. You Learn How to Just Be

When you run, you aren't anything else or anywhere else. Just right there . . . until you have zoomed past and then you're right there.

You learn how to be in the moment. You watch what is around you. You pick up details wherever you run, yet then they float by you.

Have you ever had someone try to say hi to you as you ran?

Time after time, people say to me: "I saw you running. I screamed a billion times hello to you, but you didn't notice."

When you run, you are in your own world — in just that moment, seeking nothing ahead of you and certainly not reaching behind you.

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