I started running more than 10 years ago when I joined my high school cross-country team. It’s still one of the best decisions I have ever made. Nothing compares to the amazing feeling I have after running a few miles before work. Running has been like meditation for me – way more than a good feeling. There is evidence that the benefits of running extend far beyond merely a sense of bliss. Here are some key ways that running has helped improve my performance in the office and on the job.
Mental toughness: Running mile after mile – running uphill, running downhill, battling Mother Nature, pushing the limits to your physical stamina, fighting off the urge to quit, overcoming the physical pain – brings about a certain level of mental toughness! You find out that you can persevere. You learn what dedication really is. There’s something to be said about those who push through the spells of dry mouth and stomach cramps, endure a long run in the hot sun, or simply get up and get out the bed on days when it’s difficult. This level of commitment and discipline spills over to your work life. My strong physical and mental state has helped me to better handle challenges – a difficult client, a physically demanding task, or a daunting project. After running a marathon there’s not much you feel you can’t handle or take on.
Productivity boost: Running is better than coffee. After a while, the miles and pain no longer matter. Honestly, you get to a point where you don’t even notice the aches and pains anymore. You’re just so energized and you’re in “the zone.” There is such a thing as “runner’s high”! It has been scientifically proven that regular physical activity improves muscle strength, increases endurance, and reduces fatigue. In an era where our jobs and employers are demanding more and more, many of us are looking for that extra boost of energy. I’ve discovered that lacing up an old pair of sneakers and hitting the pavement is the answer. Many times, it’s even cheaper than that shot of expresso from Starbucks or the six pack of Gatorade. Running has given me that extra boost, making it much easier to improve the quality of my work.
Happiness factor: When you feel good, you do well. If your mind isn’t in the right place, things just don’t seem to flow right. Running makes me feel good – empowered in fact – and has helped me feel less overwhelmed at work. Coming into the office after a good run allows me to put things in proper perspective; problems don’t seem that big and meetings don’t seem as long. I find myself being more proactive than reactive. I have a more positive outlook and a happier demeanor after running. Running releases endorphins that flood your body and brain with positive thoughts and feelings. In recent years, there have been more findings documenting just how effective running and exercise is. According to Dr. Michael Otto, PhD, of Boston University, “its effects rival antidepressants in head-to-head studies”.
The benefits of running are endless if you ask me. Running has helped me to become friendlier towards co-workers, customers, and clients. I’m more productive, happier, and confident overall. Additional research has also showed that exercise, like running, boosts cognitive performance and improves memory. Try running for a change if you haven’t already and get ahead of the pack! Go for a run before work and you’ll be able to think more clearly, focus more, and increase productivity throughout the day. You’ll definitely notice the difference. And who knows, you may even run your way to a promotion!