People seem to have really strong feelings about running. They hate it or they love it. They think it's great for you or they think you're better off doing something else. My feelings toward running have fluctuated throughout the past few years, but now I've come to pretty much a standstill where I enjoy running every once in a while.
A year ago, I would not have considered myself a runner. I was not overly fond of running. It wasn't necessarily just because I wasn't great at it; a lot of it was the guilt I felt when I didn't. I knew it would be good for me and help my anxiety, but I just didn't do it very often. I didn't want to, so I didn't, and then I felt bad that I didn't.
This past school year, though, the guilt got better. I started lifting weights regularly after school in my school's fitness center, and since I had a workout routine that was really working for me I didn't feel so bad about not running. Then, starting in the second semester of school, I joined a trail running elective, mostly because I thought I should. I enjoyed it, even though most of the people in the elective were far better at running than I was. Meanwhile, my mom and I started a little thing where we ran every Saturday through the end of February. So for a little while, I was going on about two runs a week.
When quarantine started was when my relationship with running really took off (one of the many things I've learned during quarantine). I started listening to podcasts during quarantine, which was like a whole new world for me. So, I combined running and podcasts, and I realized that when I listened to podcasts while I was running, it was less boring. Suddenly, I enjoyed running.
Another reason why I've started enjoying running is that I've learned to work with my energy better. I know that some days, I'm going to be more tired or need to recover more than work out, so I feel okay not running every day or even every week.
When I run, I've noticed a few very prominent benefits which keep me running.
1. I have more energy.
Although I wouldn't usually consider myself a low-energy person, I certainly won't turn down an energy boost. When I drink coffee, I get super jittery - so jittery that it can be kind of uncomfortable. This is one of several reasons why I like to run in the morning; it gives me the energy boost that I need to make my day a little better, without the jitteriness that coffee gives me.
2. I'm happier.
I am fantastic at feeling great one moment and then sad the next. Running gives me the nice "runner's high" I need to keep me happy for hours after I run. It helps me to be more positive and keep my mood soaring.
3. I'm less irritable.
I think that running is a great thing to do to decrease irritability. After I go on a run, I find that things that would usually bother me bother meless. When you're irritable, it makes life a whole lot more difficult. Interacting with people - especially people who tend to bug you - feels torturous. That's one reason why I like running so much: it makes it much easier for me to not be irritable.
4. I'm less anxious.
I'm an anxious person. Anxiety sucks. Running helps. When I wake up in the morning and I can feel that I'm going to be anxious, or if I'm anxious already, I love to go on a run, because it never fails to make my anxiety a little bit better.
Altogether, I'm a huge fan of running. I really enjoy hitting the streets and listening to a podcast or music - or even nothing at all. I haven't always loved running, but when I stopped feeling guilty about not running it made it easier to enjoy it, and now I can experience the benefits without feeling bad if I'm not up for a run.