Andy Hawthorne

Thoughts, stories and ideas

Why Running Works

Running works for your fitness and for losing weight. It also works for your mind.

I was in conversation with a work colleague the other day. He asked me why I run.

It’s an interesting question. Because at first, the answer is obvious. It keeps me fit and helps me control my weight.

That wasn’t my answer, though.

My answer was: because it clears my mind of all the turmoil going on in there.

Which I admit, was a deep answer when replying to a work colleague. But it was truthful.

Running does help me keep fit. And I’ve lost six stone in weight by controlling my food intake and doing more running. These things are true.

But I’ve saved myself from bad decisions. I’ve solved problems and sorted out the demons roaming in the dark recesses of my mind.

Running has done that for me, there’s no question about it. I’m now at the point where if I’m feeling fractious, I go for a run. If I’m feeling angry, I go for a run. If I’m feeling… yeah, you’ve guessed it.

I could introduce science here and talk about endorphins and all that. But I won’t because I’m not a scientist.

What I will talk about is the effects I’ve experienced myself. Something I have empirical evidence of. Because that way you know it’s true.

Last year I was diagnosed with bladder cancer. I was peeing razor blades and blood, plenty of blood. I needed surgery to remove the cancerous tumours growing in my bladder.

When a medical professional sits you down and tells you there’s cancer in your body it does hit hard.

But me being me, I said: “Can I keep running?”

The doctor looked relieved and said: “Yes, we encourage exercise even for cancer patients. As long as it doesn’t get too painful”.

Result.

I wasn’t being a hero. The way it works for me is: running puts everything in balance. I’d had bad news, there’s no doubt about that.

But running helped me cope with the shock of it. I’ll admit there were times when it was painful. There were times when I ought to have stayed at home. But going running helped me in a big way — mentally.

It’s because running is hard to do, It’s a great leveller. It doesn’t matter who you are, running gets hard at times. But that helps us find balance in life. Or I think it does.

Running is good for your body, your cardiovascular system and controlling your weight. It is also good for your mind. It helps you stay calm and think things through. Need proof? Go for a run when you have a problem to solve.