AWARE

Posted: January 18, 2014 by smrtnsasy in Articles
Tags: , , , , , ,

Numerous studies and research have shown that there is more to running distance than the obvious “one foot in front of the other.” All of us that run distance know this without having the experts in white lab coats informing us. We find out in the real “lab,” the outdoors where our running takes place. Our experience in our running educates us to what is really happening.

The stuff that is really happening is varied. Even in it’s variety, there seems to run a commonality that bonds the runners. And, this doesn’t depend on how fast the runner is, or what level the runners practice his or her craft, or even how long the runners have been running. The running itself is the sticky stuff binding all this together.

Probably the most obvious thing that happens to runners is the feeling of accomplishment derived from sticking to your running plan or from running on that day that you would really like to just “can” it. But, you do it and feel better for it. This is a feeling of success reflected in self-discipline. If we are serious about our running , we have all felt this.

The aspect of self-discipline leads to a more physical feeling of relaxation leading to the mental “feel good” level during or after a run. Commonly known as the “runner’s high,” it has its basis in biology. We know the brain will increase the endorphins in the blood during a relaxing (or not too demanding) run. The afterglow is a direct result of the endorphins.

The act of running continuously can increase the level of serotonin in the brain. This is the reason aerobic running has been used in the treatment of depression. Depressed patients have found remarkable improvement through running aerobically. Some have improved dramatically while reducing the amount of anti-depressant medication.

Go for a run, and your self-esteem will improve…if it needs to improve. You may be grossly overweight, slow, painfully aware of how you look in running attire, and having to work at a death defying intensity just to jog one-hundred yards, and yet, the act of completing that one-hundred yards will elevate your self-esteem. Run more, self-esteem will get higher. The actual proven reasons for this are unclear, but no matter. We runners know it works, and that’s the important part.

Running in our modern society may have taken place of the predominance of physical labor prevalent in our society in earlier years. Before mechanization and technology had put manual labor in the minority of activity, the number of U.S. citizens suffering from depression, lack of self-esteem, lack of confidence, the absence of a sense of self, and a feeling of a day spent well leading to relaxation was in itself a minority. Now, we are bombarded by advertisements for products that will solve those problems. All you have to do is buy and take the cure-all medication, and you will be a happy citizen…if you can get by all the side-effects.

Running gets us around all that. It is our manual labor. It is our exertion that brings together the brain, the heart, the adrenaline, the endorphins, the mysterious actions of self-esteem, the musculature used in locomotion, the DNA of our evolution…everything that makes the runner a relaxed and aware individual in our society. The running makes us a good animal.

The good animal is one of clear-headedness , one of creativity, one of simplicity. The runner seems to be able to see the true meaning of anything. Just as running itself culls out the gloss in activity, sport, work, and recreation, the runner uses this developed talent in other aspects of life. Therefore, life becomes one of clarity and simplicity in which creativity can prosper. This may explain why one can feel creative during a run while sitting tends to stalement that act.

This biological wonder we call a runner is an evolutionary animal that is aware of his or her surroundings both immediate and distant, past and present and future. This awareness is heightened during a good run, and this reinforces this runner-animal in his environment while not running. It makes the runner better at work, play, and daily life.

This awareness is connected to the real physical changes that happen in the brain and body during the run or immediately afterwards. During the run, the runner will notice things previously unnoticed, hear things heretofore unheard, sense things that have been oblivious up to now. All animal senses will have been sharpened. Eventually, this running animal can carry all this into the normal “civilized” life.

The runner will then be a better person in that life. All will be good.

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“As we run, we become.”

Amby Burfoot,

The Runner’s Guide to the Meaning of Life

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By: Richard Westbrook

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