“Running saved my life.”
It was the perfect morning for a local 5k run. Chilly weather. A running buddy. And an aid station with water and donuts…wait, what? Yep, that’s right. Please read on.
Last weekend, I ran my first 5k since I was 2 months postpartum – almost a year and a half ago. My friend, Emily, recently took up running (yay!) and this was our first opportunity to run together. We played softball together, we snowboard together, and now we can run together.
My half marathon pacing season came to a close last Saturday but there’s nothing I enjoy more than a Saturday morning race, so I was super excited for the Sandy’s Donut Run, a laid-back, zero-pressure run with one of my besties.
On a related side note, it was the first really brisk race day I’ve experienced and reminded me about the best winter running gear must-haves – read that blog to learn what gear you need to keep running outside now that winter is upon us.
Let’s go back to the donuts. Yes, this annual race is sponsored by the best donut shop in America, Fargo’s original Sandy’s Donuts. We runners got donuts, not only at the finish line, but midway through the race at the aid station. I provide to myself I could indeed run while eating a donut. #winning
But the real joy I got from this run was it reminded me how fun it is to run 5ks. Also, that they’re such a great way to get people involved in something healthy and find their love for running.
Couch to 5k
There’s a reason why couch to 5k programs are so popular. Running is one of those sports where it can be hard to start from scratch – but once a person gets going, little by little, they keep going.
Plus, I believe running encourages more healthy habits like making better food choices, drinking more water, and being more mindful, and leads to better overall wellness like reduced stress and lower resting heart rate.
Running is also addictive – but, for the most part, I mean that in a good way.
Addicted to Running
There’s something about running, I’m not exactly sure what it is, but it’s easy to get hooked on it. The whole runner’s high is real, then there’s something to the idea, especially starting out, of, “I ran 10 minutes straight yesterday…maybe today I can go 12.” And it just seems to snowball from there.
Now, this can be bad, it easily can spiral out of control. I admit, when I first started getting really into running, my addiction bordered on bad. I chose running over most else. I felt anxious and awful if I didn’t run. I craved the stress relief, that badassery feeling, and feared I gain back my lost poundage if I missed a day.
But I’ve learned to manage it now and, for the most part, it’s a good kind of addiction. I think most runners find their proper cadence (no pun intended) and balance for it to be part of their lives, not take over their lives.
And, especially for people in a similar boat as me with addictive personalities who are former bad addicts – drug addicts, food addicts, smokers, you name it – running or exercise in general can be a positive, new addiction to replace dangerous ones.
5ks – the Gateway Drug…to Wellness
Speaking of addiction, have you ever heard that marijuana is a gateway drug? If you’ve seen Half Baked or recall high school health class, that’s probably not news. The theory is a person who has never touched drugs may experiment with them after they try weed. Apparently, once someone tokes up, it opens the door to other drugs.
Running was my gateway drug to wellness. It pulled me away from unhealthy addictions, behaviors, and habits, and instead lead me down a path of healthy addictions, behaviors, and habits. It sounds cheesy but running kind of saved my life. So it makes me really happy when I see others, like Emily, finding their love and passion for it as well.
Was running a “gateway drug” to your healthy lifestyle? Did going couch to 5k – and beyond – change your life for the better? The comments are all yours so I’d love to read your story.