5 Ways Running Can Make You a Better Person

© Dreamstime.com

© Dreamstime.com

I have been a runner most of my life. Save for a few on-again-off-again years in college, running has been synonymous with “Carissa.” Races intimidated me until I dove headfirst into my first marathon in 2009.

Six years later, I am more addicted than ever. The crazy part is that I just keep finding more and more ways that running has helped me:

1) Gain perspective

We all struggle with tough situations in our life. They can be minor, like finishing the taxes, or major, like coping with a spouse’s long-term illness.

Running is not a cure-all for getting through the difficult times, but it does provide perspective about muscling through rough patches. The ups and downs of life are constant, but so are the ups and downs of running.

3) Adopt a more positive outlook on life

The running community is not perfect, but it sure is darn close. The friendships and camaraderie I’ve experienced in running has forced me into an even sunnier disposition.

Random strangers will cheer you on no matter your pace and heated sprints down the finish chute lead to forever friendships. I feel proud to be a part of a sport that is so widely accepting of ability and opens its arms to anyone who decides to try.

3) Learn to persevere in the face of hardships

It’s hard to put into words what exactly happens when you realize your physical self is stronger than your mental self. When you decide to keep going instead of hanging up the towel, it opens doors to other parts of your life.

It doesn’t make your fearless, but it does make you fear less. Because of running, I realize I am a lot more capable in other areas of my life than I ever could have imagined.

4) Get healthier and feel better

Running gives me plenty of heart-healthy cardiovascular exercise, but it provides so much more for my body. I have stronger muscles and bones, maintain a healthy weight, and am sick far less often.

Plus, I feel any extra active pursuits are far easier for me because I’m a runner. Whether I’m hiking all day in Yellowstone or traipsing through Disney World, I always feel ready for an adventure.

5) Become more confident

I never thought I’d be the girl who could run a sub-6 minute mile. Or finish 16 miles. Or finish a marathon. Or qualify for Boston. Or run two marathons in seven days.

But with each achievement, I built up my confidence. I started believing that I can. It has oozed over into the non-running part of my life. Daily life is extraordinarily better when you are brimming with a healthy level of confidence.

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