A few weeks back, one of the major footwear companies introduced a marketing campaign in which they asked people to ask the question, What if Everybody Ran? http://www.mizunousa.com/
It’s a clever campaign in that it ultimately goes existential by connecting running to our natural inclination to move—were we born to run?
After a solitary, crisp morning run, I can answer that question for myself and suggest that those answers might fit a broader spectrum than a single individual.
Sluggish, a bit cranky and achy before I head out the door for but an hour, I noticed several things when I returned. But that hour was very valuable to beginning my day. In that hour, at a modest, relaxed effort, I focused almost entirely on my breath, on occasion counting from one to ten and back, or one to a hundred, but just counting. But most of the time, the goal was to see just how relaxed I could be no matter whether going up or down hill or into the damn chill wind. Essentially, it was an hour’s meditation, dressed in the technical fibers of an easy morning run.
First and foremost, I am awake, focused, and full of energy, and my muscles and joints no longer bitch and moan at me like they do so often after 30 something years of running.
I am a better father. My boys, often reluctant to move at the paces my wife and I want them to while we get ready for school, seem even more delightful than I already think they are. If I hadn’t run, it may be that my patience would have been a little thinner perhaps.
My wife likes me more. After I run, the endorphins are worth at least a double espresso to my disposition, and even though she’s already at work when I return, she notices that my texts to her are more upbeat. Without a hint of irony or sarcasm, I can text “Have a superduper morning!”
I eat healthier. When I get home from the run, the buzz directs me to wiser food choices. My breakfast and lunch are simple foods—eggs, greens, nuts, fruit, a small piece of meat. I know that if I lean on sugary stuff, I’ll regret it later in the day because my body won’t react as well.
I like people more. Even outwardly, comically rude customers don’t bother me. After a run, they’re just a person having a bad day, and helping them is the only concern. It’s paying it forward.
I’m infinitely more patient. This is a fast growing, crowded city. There are many, many things in Austin that can trigger fits of impatience, but after a run or workout, the big picture is more visible and traffic on Mopac isn’t the worst thing in the world.
No worries. It’s in my DNA. I’m a worrier. But I worry much less after I run. It just goes away. I can stay present longer, focused longer. If we don’t linger in the past, or wander into tomorrow, we have much less to worry about. After a run, that’s pretty easy.
Exercise becomes more fun. Funner? If I run in the morning before work, I notice that I tend to take stretch and strength breaks throughout the day. Maybe it’s similar to choosing healthy foods so I can maintain that gentle runner’s high, but it doesn’t seem weird to do leg swings or lunges or planks at random intervals throughout the day.
I feel more creative. But you wouldn’t know it by reading this.
So that’s really it. There’s obviously much more than that, but it’s a good start. If everyone ran, and had similar experiences afterward, can you just imagine? First we have to somehow spread the word that the runner’s high is a better high than the high that you get from eating junk. Or shopping. Or watching TV. Or whatever it is that people do these days to give themselves a hit of instant gratification.
It has been explained to me like this: When you get on the airplane to fly somewhere, and the flight attendant goes into his or her schtick about exits and floatation things and such, and tells you that in the event of a depressured cabin, the oxygen masks will drop down. You put the mask on yourself before you put it on others. That’s what running is maybe. It’s taking care of yourself so you can take care of others. That’s all it is. Put on your oxygen mask every day and you’ll see that too.