3 Ways Running Changed My Life
Contributed by Amelia Wood, a 2017 Ambassador for the Berkeley Half Marathon.
Throughout my seven years of running, many of my friends and family members have wondered what inspires me to continue to lace up my shoes. I should first mention that I was not athletic at all growing up. I despised gym class and would do everything in my power to steer clear of any form of exercise. So, it was a pretty big surprise to everyone in my life (including myself) that I took to running so quickly, increasing from a 5K to a marathon in less than one year. At first it was hard for me to pinpoint what exactly kept me coming back for more. I just knew that I felt ‘better’ after I ran. But, now that running has become a permanent fixture in my life, I can identify the immeasurable ways in which I have benefited from it.
1. Mental Clarity: As someone who has struggled with anxiety and depression for most of my adult life, I can confidently say that running is the number one method to help me cope. Although there are days when my mind and body hate the idea of getting out of bed, I feel 100% better after each and every run I’ve completed, no matter how far or fast I’ve gone.
2. Connection to Nature: Before I started running, I was not exactly ‘one with nature.’ I grew up in western Massachusetts, where the four seasons provided a never ending weather variety show. I was much happier being warm and dry at home and was frankly terrified of being stuck out in the elements, which seems entirely silly to me now. Running allowed me to rediscover nature and learn how to both enjoy (and prepare!) for its unpredictable performances.
3. Sense of Adventure: I developed wanderlust shortly after college and have made two moves across the country in the last four years. Leaving my small, rural town to live in cities was truly exciting, but I have found it very difficult to acclimate. Running provides a form of comfort when I encounter new landscapes, and it has pushed me to explore both of my new homes and places I’ve visited on vacation.
While it is easy to get wrapped up in PRs, qualifying for races, log books, or even the newest shoe fad, I feel that it is beneficial for every runner to take a step back to review how running has impacted them. For these reasons, which may be completely different than yours, I will continue to run. But now I’m curious to hear your viewpoint! In what ways has running impacted your life?