Running. An appointment with your best self.

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You cannot run away from yourself. Image by Sonny Ross.

You cannot run away from yourself. Image by Sonny Ross.

It would be going too far, I think, to claim that running makes you a better person.

I really believe that running helps accentuate your good qualities and makes you better at being the person you already are. With its combination of exertion and repetition, running burns off the inessential, changeable elements of the day and leaves you completely with yourself. No calendar, social media or other people coming first. Just you.

This may sound strange and maybe a bit self indulgent to claim such a thing, but runners will tell you that it’s true. When you run—especially a longer, slow run—trivialities tend to fall away. You can’t worry about how your hair looks or whether you remembered to mail that letter. You can’t hold on to resentment about that jerk who cut you off in traffic or stay annoyed with the co-worker who talks incessantly about his brilliant grandson. It’s just left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot. It’s just you and your own heart and mind. It’s like the truth overtakes your conscious mind and through being honest, perspective on what matters, or who you really are, becomes apparent.

You can’t run away from your problems, of course, but you can run your way to a healthier relationship with them. Acceptance becomes a by product of running.

What does that mean? It means that if you’re a serious person, you’ll likely find yourself thinking serious thoughts while running. If you’re highly observant, you’ll become finely attuned to the sights and sounds and smells around you. If you’re an introvert, your runs will turn into opportunities for self-reflection and maybe a challenge to overcome being so withdrawn. If you’re an extrovert, you’ll smile at every stranger you see and connect. If you’re a joyful optimist, you’ll find your heart opening to the beauty of the world around you and the small pleasures of your run.

On the other hand, the qualities we like least in ourselves tend to dwindle during a run. Ask any runner, and they’ll say that even if you start a run thinking about a problem at work or an uncomfortable conversation with a family member, pretty soon, for better or worse, it’s just you and the road. (Or the trail. Or the treadmill.) You can’t run away from your problems, of course, but you can run your way to a healthier relationship with them. Acceptance becomes a by product of running. 

Running, then, can be an appointment you make and keep with your best self. It may be your most important appointment of the week. Be there for it!

I’d love your thoughts on this topic

  • How do you see running makes you a better person?
  • Is this all mumbo jumbo? Do you run with a totally different mindset? What is it?
  • I’d like to hear your own story… so please add your comments below.

 

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Janet Gardner
For decades, I considered myself just about the least athletic person on the planet. Then at age 50, I got the crazy idea to begin running.
Janet Gardner

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About Janet Gardner

For decades, I considered myself just about the least athletic person on the planet. Then at age 50, I got the crazy idea to begin running.