Words By Caitriona Potter

If you’re like me, you may be of the belief that running is for the impeccably fit, avid sports players, or long-term marathoners. At least, that was my belief, until I, myself, began running several months ago. As a relatively fit and healthy young person, I have dabbled in running several times, flowing through seasons of fitness and seasons of cynicism towards any form of athleticism. Growing tired of the repetitive nature of weightlifting, I decided to tie my shoelaces and head out for a run on a chilly evening in November. The darker days were beginning to steal my light, and I was searching for anything that would help me find it. What I discovered was far greater than what I was searching for. Amidst the shin splints, sore knees and aching feet, I understood why people become runners. Running is meditative, transformative, and addictive. Here is what I have learned so far.

Running is meditation.

I am a big believer in meditation and mindfulness, in the traditional sense of sitting still, closing your eyes and observing your breath. What I didn’t expect was that my new hobby was also becoming a meditative outlet for me. Whether I am listening to music or simply my thoughts, the act of putting one foot in front of the other silences my mind and prioritizes steady breathing above all else. I began to feel emotionally lighter after each run. A big tool in managing my own mental health is becoming aware of my body in the present moment, rather than staying rooted in the mind. Running is the natural embodiment of this practice.

Running is a constant improvement cycle. 

There are few things in life that generate a sense of achievement much like running does. Progress happens on every run, because I am choosing to show up for myself before anything else. This energy reflects onto other aspects of my life. Goal setting is a powerful way to begin building self-esteem and confidence. Running holds an entire universe of potential goals to set and to reach. From simply setting a goal of running ‘x’ number of times a week, to running ‘x’ distance, there are infinite goals to consistently achieve in the world of running, which can build up your self confidence in a matter of weeks.

Running builds self-esteem, whilst forcing you to stay humble. 

There is nothing more humbling than your very first run. In my case, I struggled to run a single kilometer without stopping, and I didn’t notice any improvement until several runs later. Consistency builds self- esteem, as well as reminding you of your weaknesses as much as your strengths. It takes humility to work on your weaknesses, in all areas of life, and it is the same in running. Running does not discriminate by body type, shape, or weight. By choosing to get better at something that is hard,  you are also building your belief in your abilities to do other hard things, such as setting boundaries or speaking up for yourself.