Two years ago I went in for my yearly check-up and was told that I am pre-diabetic. The doctor also told me I had high blood-pressure and high cholesterol, neither of these were news to me; I had been told this since I was in high school.
I decided to take up running, if for no better reason than that I felt that it gave me the best workout in the least amount of time – despite the fact that for years I had said that I would never run, unless someone was chasing me or I needed to catch a bus.
Over the past 2 years I have slowly but surely built up my running distance and times. I don’t know at what point you get to call yourself a “runner”; whenever I start to feel that I’m making progress, I meet people who are light years ahead of me. However, I recently bought a pair of actual running shorts… so there’s that.
Currently I run about 15-20 miles per week. This month will be my first month running over 70 miles in a month. My 10k time is now down to 52:40 and my goal is to run a half-marathon next year.
I just got a new pair of running shoes this week. While I was shopping for them, the workers in the shop were talking about a 50k race they ran on Saturday, and then a friend of mine told me that he is running a 100k race next year…
I’m probably never going to make it to that level (nor do I desire to), but here are some things that running has done for me:
Increased my endurance in other areas of life
One of the hardest parts about running is that I get bored. It’s monotonous. I’ve had a few running partners, but one moved away and the other got injured and quit running. Thanks to a great pair of wireless headphones my wife got me for my birthday, I am able to listen to podcasts and audiobooks while I run.
I have noticed though, that since I started running more, I have been able to more easily focus on tasks for a longer period of time, such as reading books, or sitting in one place to write. In the past I always felt that I had a hard time sitting still and focusing on one task for long periods of time. I know that getting lots of cardio exercise increases blood-flow to the brain, so maybe that’s the cause of the difference I feel – or maybe it is that endurance exercise has increased my endurance in other areas as well.
Improved my health
I’ve been back to the doctor, and although I’m still in the pre-diabetic range, my blood pressure and cholesterol levels are at the best levels they’ve ever been in my life. My weight is at the lowest it’s been since before I got married 12 years ago. My resting heart rate has gone from an average of 60-65 bpm to now being 38-43 bpm! I also sleep better at night.
Reduced my stress level
Along with my lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels and resting heart rate, I’ve noticed a significant decrease in my stress level. It’s not that I’m doing less, it’s that I’m not as stressed out by things in the same way I was before.
Jonathan Edwards and others have pointed out the correlation between physical health and spiritual and mental health. The advice Jonathan Edwards gave to those struggling with “melancholy” (what we might call depression) was that they begin with making sure they are eating a healthy diet, getting sufficient rest and physical exercise along with spiritual disciplines such as prayer, reading of Scripture and participation in a local church.
Running has been good to me. I recommend it.