Mind, Body and Soul

Can running lead to a better balance?

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Photo: Paula Angel Franco

Running is incredibly simple. A skill developed soon after walking, it promptly becomes a favourite to chase siblings, the family dog, squirrels, etc. In adulthood our lives get complicated. Running does not. It remains a very natural way of moving. But is running more than a physical act? Could it also help balance our mind, body and soul and lead to a more fulfilled life?

If you are thinking of starting to run but wonder what’s in it for you, here are some collective thoughts contributed by fellow runners.

Mind

Clarity – Runners experience a calm mind while running. Some run free of framework, others take advantage of various technology and training plans. Either way, the sense of freedom and decluttering of the mind remains.

Reflection – Running often doubles as problem-solving time. Early morning runs are used to jumpstart the day. The physicality of running promotes efficient thinking. When life gets busy, it is a cherished time to engage in creative thinking.

Decisiveness – Running and efficient decision making seem linked. Ambivalence turns into a stance. The more we exercise the easier it becomes to make healthy choices. The reverse is also true. For regular runners, missing an outing can bring upon feelings of guilt and an unbalanced mind.

Stress Outlet – Running is an outlet for everyday stress. Some even come to running as a matter of survival. A mother shared that when her newborn would not sleep and cried constantly, running became her sanity; it then stayed throughout her life. From survival strategy to a way of life.

Body

Physical Challenge – We all experience a hard run occasionally, which can be a personal challenge. Runners who are also parents are focused not only on the personal challenge, but also on setting an example for their kids to be active.

Health – Running increases strength, resilience and appreciation for fresh air. It can also spark goodness in overall health and help with resting and sleeping, reducing headaches, encouraging hydration and healthy eating. Some have found in running their fountain of youth.

Soul

Connection – Runners experience a powerful sense of connectedness at different levels. We connect with a spouse or a friend as a running partner. We connect with nature and our surroundings. We connect with ourselves through our heart, breath and feet. This connectedness morphs into networks. Runners easily bond with other runners. Highly functional networks form to benefit our professional, cultural, and social lives.

Meditation – Running is contemplative, methodical and acts as meditation. When we run the world stops, the focus is on the breath and the beat. In this simplicity, we can think about nothing.

Purpose – Having an outing planned provides a goal and a completed goal brings a sense of accomplishment. After a run, many enjoy high energy and satisfaction from having been out there.

Gratitude – We are grateful for our health and the time to run. We are excited and proud to “get” to go out and play. Running sometimes evolves from humble beginnings to way of life to performance. That evolution is dynamic and multi-directional.

Running transcends the complexity of our lives and helps us reset. That remains true no matter how often, how long or how fast we run. It is an innate skill and one of the simplest activities we can engage in. Time to go for a run.

INSPIRING TESTIMONY

“The freedom found when the feet hit the surface, the energy travels up the legs and jumpstarts the heart bringing the mind to a space of laser focus and sheer imagination.”

– Dianne

“It kickstarts my mind in the early mornings and I am able to clearly plan out my day.”

– Patti

“It is time to engage in creative thinking, in connecting dots that never would have been connected without detaching from the pulse of everyday life.”

– Hillary

“It is my main outlet for everyday stress.”

– Patti

“I have always felt a cathartic release mid-way and post running.”

– Jack

“It gives me street cred with my kids.”

– Rena

“It’s a time for me to be alone and just be.”

– Colette

“Running is a part of me that feels adventurous and driven.”

– Rena

“On the days I miss an outing, I feel like I have missed an opportunity. What was that opportunity? Maybe to nourish my soul.”

– Jack

“Fitness is a personal space and how we embrace it is individual. One thing is certain: sweat equity through movement provides us with unlimited opportunities.”

– Dianne

“It’s just exhilarating, freeing, and I feel alive.”

– Colette

“Often people come to running for one thing — health — and find it also gives them something completely different they didn’t realize they needed.”

– Hillary

A heartfelt thank you to Colette, Dianne, Hillary, Jack, Patti and Rena who enthusiastically shared their thoughts. This group represents a wonderful cross section – from occasional run/walkers to ultra-marathoners, new runners to life timers, busy professionals to blissful retirees.

Read this story in the digital edition of IMPACT Magazine.


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