If you haven’t guessed yet, running is kinda one of our favorite things here at Competitive EDGE — it’s a huge part of why we exist!
In fact, way back in 2001, Dr. Kevin Vandi inadvertently started laying the foundation for Competitive EDGE by starting his own running journey…
He set out to run the 1.2 miles between his dad’s farm and his mom’s house, but only made it halfway on his first try. After three more attempts, he finally made it (albeit with a lot of soreness over the next couple of days).
As the months wore on, so did his running training, and soon enough he was able to complete runs more than 10 miles long — a massive feat for someone who had never run distance before.
The mental fortitude required to make the leap from 1 mile to 10 stuck with Kevin, and he developed his own appreciation and love of running; it’s part of what planted the seed for Competitive EDGE and allowed us to get to know so many phenomenal runners.
And you know what? Even though they have the sport in common, each and every runner has their own journey and inspiration that keeps them going mile after mile. After all, that’s one of the most beautiful things about running: how many things there are to love about it.
So whether you’re having an off training week and need a motivation boost or you simply want the feel-goods that come from the camaraderie of running, we’ve got you covered. Read on to discover just a few of the reasons runners hit the road. Let’s get to the good stuff!
1. Improving Physical Health
The most obvious benefit to running is improved physical health and fitness. It’s what gets a lot of runners started on their journey (before they get hooked and can’t stop!).
Running training can certainly benefit your physical health in a variety of ways, like increasing your strength and cardiovascular endurance, helping you lose weight, or just generally maintaining healthier habits.
One of our runners put it beautifully:
“…It’s the feeling of being fit, alive, and well, and of course [for] the endorphins after the run.” – Robert
And we all know those endorphins are earned — and so worth it!
Regardless of what your fitness or health goals are, running is one of the most accessible sports to start with. Plus, as you progress in your training, you’ll likely branch out into cross-training like weightlifting or mobility work, making you an even more well-rounded athlete!
2. Improving Mental Health and Stress Relief
But running isn’t just helpful for your physical health; it’s good for both the body and brain. It can serve as an excellent, much-needed mental health break from the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives:
“Whether you’ve had an argument with your spouse, a tough day at work, a family crisis, or the best day of your life – running gives you an outlet for all those emotions and provides you time to work through them on your own.” – Runnin’ for Sweets
For some it even goes beyond processing emotions and becomes a part of who they are. The accomplishments of reaching a new mileage goal, finally crushing a hill, or simply staying consistent on a run streak can build confidence and emphasize the parts of yourself that you like the most.
“Running makes me feel empowered and resilient.” – Paria
Whether you run to clear your mind or to retrain that mental monologue, there’s no doubt that miles are a powerful tool in your mental health arsenal. Even if it’s not the main reason you run, few of us can say we don’t feel better after heading out the door — especially when we don’t want to!
3. Progressing and Taking on New Challenges
And speaking of building confidence, there’s nothing like hitting a new goal to build yourself up!
One of the best parts of running is that there’s always, always room for improvement, and there is no shortage of running challenges to take on. Having an activity where you can constantly work towards a goal can be incredibly motivating, and the effort you put into your training builds both physical and mental fortitude.
“Running can make you tired, weak, and [doubtful of] your abilities, and it’s through these gruelling moments of training where mental toughness is built.” – Runners First
And feeling that mental triumph is intoxicating! It’s a great way to remind yourself that often, the mind is ruling the body, and we’re capable of so much more when we get comfortable with being uncomfortable:
“I run because the body can go much farther than the mind thinks!!” – Vicki
Anyone who’s finished a race can likely relate to that feeling; the final miles are always a push!
4. Being With Nature
Though humans are creatures of habit, being in the same routine and the same environment day after day can be… mundane, to say the least (especially when the environment’s an office). That’s why many runners value the change of scenery that comes with running:
“Running provides you with the opportunity to explore some faraway places, or get a taste of the beauty right in your neighborhood. No matter where you are and no matter the season, fresh air will do you good.” – Runnin’ for Sweets
Serious kudos to all of the year-round runners out there! We see you, in the cold and the rain and the elements, still chasing your endorphins.
“On many days, my run is the only time that I actually get to step outside. I get to feel the wind, the heat, the cold and even the rain.” – Women’s Running
Being outdoors and around nature can be incredibly refreshing, not just in your physical change of location, but also in your mentality. Lots of people find themselves slowing down (metaphorically) to appreciate the little things in life.
5. Joining a Community
Plenty of athletes will agree — the sense of community is a major motivator to enjoy and stay committed to their sport. And because running is one of the most accessible sports for people to start, its community is ever-blooming with like-minded individuals:
“My cross country and track team motivate me! It wouldn’t be nearly as fun if I didn’t get to be competitive with my teammates.” – Mia
Having peers in the running community can be inspiring, motivating, and generally just a ton of fun.
“It has connected me with so many other runners, both in person through running groups and online.” – Women’s Running
Whether online or in person, you’ll find plenty of folks who share the same appreciation for running, as well as shared questions or experiences that can help validate your personal running journey! (Plus, local runners will know all the good trails!)
Keep On Keeping On!
And there you have it! A smattering of the reasons runners head out the door, though definitely not an exhaustive list.
Plus, you might have more than one reason for heading out, and those reasons might change over time.
Go back to Kevin’s journey, for instance. His running started out as a way to improve his fitness and challenge himself, but now, it’s a way to clear his mind and spend some alone time. That is, when he’s running alone; he also does a summer running challenge with his three oldest children, which serves as a way to spend some quality time AND get active all at once!
So tell us, fellow runner — what reasons are you running for??