27/04/2017 07:25 BST | Updated 27/04/2017 07:25 BST

Three Reasons Running Makes You Better


Photo: Adam Orzechowski

My dad has been jogging three days a week for the better part of 50 years. That's a half century of pounding pavement. It's over 7800 jogs much of which were performed sans music (before the advent of the Sony Walkman). In between the chatter of buddies and chirping of birds, Pops would listen to his breath deepen.

Fortunately for me, Dad got me into the habit of running so I've never seen it as a chore. It's a treat. Growing up in Vancouver British Columbia, our trademark route was: our house eastbound along 49th avenue up to Churchill Street. Then a left on Churchill (yes named after Winston) into the serene neighbourhood, until we took another left at 41st avenue. Floating down the big hill we'd eventually make our final left on one of a a variety of side streets - completing the big circle to the final stretch home.

On a good day I'd run sub 25 minutes and pops closer to thirty. As the years went on I got faster and Dad slower. At one point I found that I could almost power walk faster than him, but that's besides the point. At age 73, he's out there 3 days a week like clock work.


Photo: Adam Orzechowski

For me, it's a time to return to nature,. A time to hang with my dad and shoot the breeze. And I also get fit in the process. Unlike others who are just discovering the joys, running for me has always been a ritual. I frequently find myself running up to 5 times a week when I only realise once my overworked legs remind me. With all the hooplah of the London Marathon under wraps and a new sub 2-hour marathon stunt by Nike underway - someone recently asked me why all the hype?

I didn't have a all the answers - but have come up with these three hypothesis:

01. Running facilitates a different form of brainstorming: thought showers

One Manhattan based CEO that I spoke with explained that running helps him get unstuck. The ideas that have been brewing in his head for days start to crystallise while other new one come flooding in. When he arrives back home from a run, he only has to look at his wife for her to know not to speak a word. Fuelled by creativity, he runs to find a pad of paper to jot things down as his wife looks on with a grimace.

Running is a fabulous way to learn patience, build resilience and test drive ideas.


Photo: Adam Orzechowski

02. Running provides one of the best drugs for free: Dopamine

Say yes to our favourite friend, dopamine. This neurotransmitter is produced by our brain and nudges us into doing things. Tasks that require focus and motivation. For example, this blog post was written in less than an hour after a run along the Brighton boardwalk. I'm pretty sure that if I hadn't run it would have taken at least twice as long and possibly never seen the light of day.

A study from the University of Arizona explains that the very substance, which is produced from within the body when running and can activate cannabinoid receptors. Endocannabinoids as they are dubbed, are chemicals that like cannabis, that alter and lighten moods - only 100% naturally. Enough motivation right?

03. Running helps us realise our own nature: we were born to run


Photo: Sub2hrs.com

In his book Born to Run, Christopher McDougall uncovers how the Tarahumara (a mysterious tribe of Mexican Indians) are the best distance runners in the world. Much like how us modern folk go for a walk, they are reputed to run for days as a natural way of being.

Running  -- it turns out-- is a completely native behaviour. We've just miraculously figured out how to design it out of our lives.


Photo: Adam Orzechowski

If you're a runner then this is all old news to you. If you're new to the game, don't be discouraged - it only gets better. I promise. And if you're tempted to jump on the bandwagon - go on and dust off those trainers, lace up, and we'll see you out on the road.