Four and a half years ago in my hometown of Honolulu, Hawaii, a 92-year-old woman claimed the spot as the oldest marathon finisher at the Honolulu Marathon.
This past weekend, in my new hometown of San Diego, another 92-year-old woman stole the spot as the oldest marathon finisher at the San Diego Rock N Roll Marathon. Not only did this woman Harriette Thompson steal the record of oldest finisher by 74 days, but she also finished two and a half hours faster, resulting in a total time of 7:24:36, or about 17 minutes per mile.
I myself have personally started running (at a bare minimum at one mile a week at a 16-minute pace!) three or so years ago around 2012. Just last December I completed my first marathon at the Honolulu Marathon. It takes time and dedication, but the feelings you get from finishing are otherworldly. Feelings of euphoria, relief, and agonizing pain throughout your legs for the next week. My accomplishment is nothing compared to the two women above, but I assure you that whatever running goal you set, you will feel amazing, and with disbelief throughout the next several months you will think “I completed a marathon” (or whatever long-term goal it may be).
Anyway, what’s this post about? In honor of National Running Day, I figured now would be the perfect time to bring up physical exercise in this blog, and to start off with this topic I’d love to share with all you aspirers, besides the obvious health reasons, the top three reasons why I run.
1. Goals and Focus
In running, there will always be a goal you can strive to reach, no matter your level of fitness. From being able to run a steady five minutes without stopping to completing an ultra marathon (50+ miles) in every state of the US, or even indirect goals from losing 20% of your body fat to being able to drinking out of Nutella jars every day without regret, there is always something worth running for.
Developing this mindset of working hard toward your running goals transfers oh so easily toward any other goal you want to achieve in life, which is the main reason why this is reason number one and why I’m writing about this in my blog! Long distance running is 90% mindset, 7% fitness, and 3% made up statistics. Training the mind to be able to go at a certain pace for x minutes before needing to walk. Training the mind (or developing the habit, which is equally if not more important) to follow a set running schedule. Training the mind to, learn how to further your short-term daily goals one step at a time, perhaps even literally.
Your mind becomes so accustomed to this focus that you’ll see yourself being able to not just accomplish more goals, but also working more effectively than your coworkers, being less distracted by whatever life throws at you, reading for longer periods of time (even textbooks for students), heck even playing video games longer without feeling as mentally fatigued if you so choose that path. Give running a shot, give it several weeks. You’ll see what I mean.
I say this all the time in my posts: as an introvert, it can be tough making friends, especially without being in school anymore. Running rectifies this quite easily.
Running groups, especially training groups for certain marathons, make it too easy to meet new people. Simply say: “Hi! I’m ___.” “So how long have you been running?” and conversations flow from there. Sometimes finding that conversation starter can be the most daunting task, but with this group formed with one common goal in mind, well you get the idea! How to find a running group? Check out your next race’s website, and they might have a Facebook group which you can add yourself to. Yelp is a very nice alternative, either through the Events page or the Talk page. Meetup is a site I’ve been eyeing on, and it seems like the perfect site to just find people in general, but I don’t have any personal experience to back it up.
Running with a friend is also just as great, either starting or rekindling friendships, moving from acquaintance to friend, or even as a date with a significant other. There’ll be plenty of time to converse during your run, plus if the conversation dies out, you can just focus on your running without any awkward silence while trying to think of another topic. And once again you and your partner now have a common goal to strive for. If none of your friends or your significant other doesn’t run, get them to start! Go out for a few walks, possibly adjusting your running schedule as needed, but it’ll definitely be worthwhile as you start or rekindle that friendship. Sometimes a buddy is all someone needs to get started. (Maybe mention this post to convince them?)
I had just learned through a book I finished yesterday that this is actually one of the best ways for just two guys to hang out together. Males often don’t like conversing face to face, especially about deep topics, so talking while running (ie. becoming more manly) makes this the perfect option. I’ll talk more about this book in a future book of the week!
Lastly, while you can find and build friendships from a plethora of places, not too many activities beat running when it comes to the kinds of people that will make you a better person in almost every aspect of your life. Finding these assiduous like-minded people who both are goal-oriented and want to stay in shape is a blessing. Make the most of the running community while you can.
And then there’s the opposite of friendships, haha. Solitude is just as important as socializing, regardless of whether you’re an extrovert or introvert. During those solo runs you can focus 100% on your form and running goals, think about ideas, or simply clean out your mind as you enjoy the view. The most successful people in tech today are constantly walking as they gather the best of ideas, and running is no different. There’s a clear correlation between walking/running and being more creative; just Google “running and creativity” to get thousands of other results. In fact, many of my posts I write come much more naturally after having done a run that day, including this post following a nice 7-mile run. Everything in your mind just flows naturally.
Having multiple forms of solitude is so important as well, as they all complement each other rather nicely. For me, between running, going to the gym, reading, blogging, designing, coding… as an introvert I can never have too many hobbies of solitude, haha. But keep the mind busy! Keep the mind guessing what you’re going to do next. Even if you’re following a strict schedule of switching your activities, the sheer variety makes your brain run much more effectively (pun not intended).
And it’s as simple as that! I’ll be sharing my own running journey in a later post, but for now, go take that step outside and go for it!