As Elle Woods rightfully said in Legally Blonde, "I just don't think that Brooke could've done this. Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't kill their husbands, they just don't."
This popular movie quote just about sums up the mood-boosting effects of working out. Runners are especially aware of this as they commonly describe experiencing a 'runner's high' after completing a solid workout. This term is described as a type of euphoria where the runner's mood is highly positive and feelings of pain are lessened. Endorphins are feel-good neurotransmitters that circulate in the blood as hormones. While exercising, these bind to opiate receptors in the brain, enhancing pleasure. While non-runners may scoff at this as pure myth, science proves it true—at least in rats. If you're looking to experience a runner's high, here are a few runs to help get you there.
Leave the watches, headphones and all other devices at home. Just go put one foot in front of the other. Without noise in your ears, you'll hear the birds, traffic, dogs chasing you, kids playing in the park and all the other fun sounds that come with getting outside. If you're not constantly looking down at your watch to see the second-by-second pace, you can look straight ahead and take in the surroundings, whether they're skyscrapers or trees. Taking in the sights and sounds will leave you more connected with your runs, reducing your stress about hitting the proper numbers and improving your running experience
Go Somewhere New
Running the same routes day after day gets old. After a while, you lose the fun sensation that got you out the door in the first place. Google 'best running routes near me' or use an app like MapMyRun or Strava to find popular segments or routes to try out. Traveling, even if a short distance away, to run in a new location will stimulate new senses and invigorate your soul.
Run With Purpose
Nothing boosts a good mood like accomplishing something. So set a purpose for your next run. Try going beyond hitting a specific mileage or pace goal and do something really meaningful. Maybe volunteer to take shelter dogs for runs, run with a bag and collect trash along the way or sign up for a charity run. This will give your runs purpose, and when you train for a purpose beyond yourself, your mood lifts and your performance improves.
Reconsider a Running Partner
Running alone is easy. It can also be calming and allow you to focus on getting the job done. However, it is well proven that social connections boost mood. Joining others for a group run or enlisting a running buddy will help you get out of your own head and build relationships around something you enjoy. You'll find that people who can share common 'runner problems' with you, help motivate you to go farther or faster or enjoy life out of spandex with (you know, dinner, drinks or a concert).
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