All of us have explored running as a sport in some point of our lives, be it in the fleeting moments of childhood or as a result of a more mature blossoming of the innate desire to experience freedom. Either way, unlike other more complex and extensive sport activities, running seems to be one of those activities which has been ingrained into us in the form of some “purpose-sport”(catchy right?). To understand why running plays such an important role in our daily lives, and why it is synonymous to living itself, we need to dwell deep into the various ways our system has been tailored to be a running-machine.
Running teaches you perseverance
One of the most intense aspects of sports is the amount of endurance and perseverance that is needed to excel in it. During the more difficult workouts and on days when you just don’t care to be out there in the heat working, it takes perseverance in order to keep going and not quit. No other sport can be a better example of this perseverance than running.
Tripped Out Fact: The average man has enough energy stored in his body that he can run non-stop at 15 miles per hour for 3 DAYS!
Picture yourself at the end of a 50 km stretch that you have been running for the past two hours, with just a little more to go your muscles give way and turn to molten cheese while gallons of sweat flow through you each moment. Still, you fight the urge to slack onto the track and complete the rest of the distance with every ounce of will-power you have left in you. This is not as easy as it sounds, which is why marathon and ultra marathon runners are considered as some of the fittest and toughest people in the realm of sports.
Running is the cheapest way to freedom
As a sport, running does not demand expensive equipment and gear. All it requires is a pair of running shoes. You do not have to undergo intensive training and take part in expensive coaching programs and so on to “learn” running. Any person with an untamed spirit and burning passion for the sport, irrespective of any sort of cultural barriers, can be a part of this sport.
The beauty of the running is the freedom. The freedom to choose the time that suits you, the freedom to conquer the next route. The reason why running is so closely associated with freedom is the fact that it was probably the first “sport” that we as humans learnt and practiced.
Tripped Out Fact: The inherent auspiciousness that we have towards running as a sport can be directed to the practice of “persistence running” practiced by our primitive ancestors, where they used to run after their prey for hours on end until it tired of the “race” and was killed.
You can run off your worries!
The sport of running is associated with innumerable health benefits. Some of the major health boosters associated with running includes the fact that it stimulates feel-good chemicals known as Endorphins, in the brain. This chemical is known for keeping high pressure at bay, improving self-esteem, uplifting mood and balancing sleep cycles.
Running also reduces the risk of various diseases like coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, high levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides (fats in your blood), and even eye disease. A solid sweat session can also boost natural oils, keeping skin fresh and healthy.
Running also has a huge impact on the overall functioning of the brain especially with relation to its response towards stress. This is due to the fact that running also impacts the release of another tripped out brain chemical known as Serotonin, which acts as a natural stress buster.
Tripped out Fact: Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden discovered that physica activities like running purges the blood of a substance known as kynurenine, which accumulates during times of stress and is linked to depression.
Running can make you smart!
Scientists this week discovered that the same bodily process that helps fuel the body efficiently also improves memory and learning.
A single protein, called estrogen-related receptor gamma (ERRγ), controls the release of energy to the muscles and the brain. This protein is associated with providing fuel for your muscles by burning the fat in them. At the same time, this same protein is responsible for breaking down sugars in the brain in order to produce energy for the generation of faster thought-processes. Now that’s a pretty striking similarity in terms of function if you ask me. In short, become good at producing ERRγ and your performance in memory tests as well as marathons should improve.
Exercises have shown to help keep the mind sharp and could even reduce symptoms of dementia. Hitting the track might also protect the brain against Alzheimer’s, even among those with a family history of it.
Tripped Out Fact: There is striking evidence that connect running with increased intellect, especially while looking at the track records of some geniuses. Enigma code breaker Alan Turing could run a marathon in two hours 46 minutes; British politician and journalist Matthew Parris managed two hours 32 minutes; while Nobel Prize winning scientist Wolfgang Ketterle once clocked two hours 49 minutes.
Tripped Out Fact: It has been seen that women are more adept at running than men, with most participants in half-marathon being women (a 60/40 ratio in terms of participation). Moroever, women made up 56% of all 15.5 million race finishers in 2012, according to Running USA.
Image Source: 1