This Thanksgiving, I want to intentionally make time to reflect on one aspect of my life for which I am very thankful: running.
As life progresses, the people, places and circumstances may change, but through it all running remains consistent. We may run on different trails, in different climates, and with many different goals, but each time we get out there to do something we love – run.
While there are so many reasons I am feeling thankful today, running is always on my list. This sport continues to change me, push me, challenge me, and reward me. No matter what I encounter in life each day, I am grateful for running as my outlet.
Last year I shared how running has taught me to be thankful, and I continue to learn more and more each day.
In celebration of this day of gratitude, here are just a few reasons for which I am thankful for running.
10 Reasons I Am Thankful for Running
Running taught me to push my limits.
I still distinctly remember struggling to run around our ¾ mile block without stopping. I tried for years to run that entire block, always returning home out of breath and energy. Never in my life did I think I’d be able to run 3 miles without stopping, let alone a marathon.
Slowly but surely, my body adapted to the mileage and I even began to enjoy it. 1 mile became 3, which became a 10k, then a half and then a full marathon. As I began to feel more comfortable with the distance, I started to believe that accomplishing those time goals might not be so far-fetched.
Running has shown me how to pursue a dream relentlessly, no matter how big it might be.
Running adapts to different phases of my life.
Since I started running, I’ve lived in 8 different places. I’ve been single, dating, engaged and married. I’ve been a student, a sales associate, a musician, a daycare teacher, middle school teacher, elementary teacher and a writer. I’ve lived with three roommates, by myself, and with my husband. There have been countless celebrations, many losses, plenty of challenges, and just enough success.
But through it all, running has remained consistent.
Running allows me to experience nature.
Hardly anything brings me as much joy than those first few runs of a new season. When the temperature finally warms up and the sun comes at the beginning of spring, one of the first things I want to do is go for a run. When the leaves start to change colors in the fall, or the first snow falls in the winter, I always grab my shoes and head outside.
There is nothing quite like experiencing these changes firsthand. Without running, I’d be stuck inside all day. I’d have very few reasons to get outside, and would likely miss out on so much of the joy that can be found in nature.
Running inspires me to head outside on a regular basis. It inspires me to take advantage of the beautiful state I live in during each season. It gives me a regular dose of fresh air, sunshine, cloudiness, wind, rain and snow. It helps me experience the beauty that is around me and really appreciate it every single day.
Running brings me closer to others.
Whether it’s a long run with my mom, a conversation with a friend, or the thousands of strangers lined up next to me at a race, running bonds me with so many people.
Running provides a connection that feels unbreakable. Sharing this one thing in common, whether it’s a stranger or a friend, helps develop an instant connection. Passing other runners on the roads and sharing a split-second smile or wave is sometimes all the encouragement we need to feel connected.
Running helps me solve problems.
I can’t even begin to count the number of problems I’ve solved on a run – everything from coming up with an idea for a post, discovering a compromise for an argument, a way to rework my schedule to fit it all in, or just deciding what to do in a difficult situation.
The time alone, outside in the quiet provides me with much needed time to gather my thoughts. Sometimes this quiet time is all I need to come up with a solution to a problem that has been haunting me for days, or even weeks. My best ideas have come from even the shortest of runs, and for that I am grateful.
Running provides a safe outlet for stress and anger.
In my opinion, running is one of the healthiest stress relievers out there. When I find myself so angry that I can’t calm down, or stressed out that I can’t focus, one of the best options is to stop what I’m doing and go for a run.
Running provides and outlet for all the pent-up energy from stress and anger, and gives me time to de-stress and calm down. Without fail, I return home feeling calmer and more focused than before I left. In a time where unhealthy temptations are around just about every corner, I am grateful to be able to find my relief on the run.
Running has introduced me to new places.
Traveling for a race is one of the main reasons that I travel anywhere. With limited time and busy schedules, signing up for a destination race provides a great excuse to get out and see new places. Whether it’s just a few hours from home or a plane ride across the country, running provides many different opportunities to travel.
Experiencing new places on foot is one of my favorite ways to get to know the area. There is nothing quite like running through the city streets and neighborhoods to give you a feel for the local culture.
Running keeps me in good health.
Discovering a hobby that provides so much joy along with countless health benefits was like striking gold. Aside from the endorphins and healthy outlet for excitement, running helps make our bodies stronger and protect us from many illnesses and diseases.
Even after uncovering an autoimmune disease a few years ago, running continues to improve my quality of life and keep things as painless as possible. Running makes my muscles and immune system stronger, keeping me healthy as often as possible.
Running makes me stronger.
While my muscles gain strength for those hard workouts and long runs, my mind also continues to get stronger. Running provides me with a way to build not only physical strength, but mental strength as well.
Those long runs and hard workouts are challenging on both the body and the mind. With each new interval workout or long distance run, my body and mind become stronger. This strength is a major asset when times get tough in life.
Running promotes acceptance in a world that so desperately needs it.
Standing in the starting corrals for just about any decent sized race provides and opportunity to experience diversity at its finest.
Running brings together people of all races, sizes, shapes, colors, backgrounds, financial status, and so much more. Every single person out there running is different from the next – but you know what the best part is? Everyone supports each other.
I have never once experienced a negative interaction with another runner. We are out there to help build ourselves up, hoping to bring others up along the way. No one bothers to check if you look different from them.
Running provides a safe place of acceptance.
Today, I am counting my blessings in more ways than one, and am counting running as one of the best. I am thankful for running and everything it has brought to my life, and the world. The inspiration I feel seeing other runners meet their goals or use their skills to help others is unreal.
There’s always a reason to be thankful.