Running offers awareness beyond physical fitness, affecting your perception of life and leading to mental and psychological change.
It teaches you the importance of connections between the different parts of your life, such as training, recovery and nutrition, to find overall balance and wholeness.
It can also reveal who you really are, highlighting your abilities, limitations and possibilities for both physical and mental growth, leading to greater self-awareness.
One of the things we repeat most often-and also one of the greatest gifts that running gives you-is mindfulness. What running teaches you is also something that changes you profoundly: it has to do not with physical fitness, well-being or weight but with something mental, and that is the consciousness of what you are doing and why.
Mindfulness in running is not just understanding what happens to your body with training and how important nutrition and recovery are as well but is something broader. Running completely changes your perception of life because running is not just another activity you mark on your calendar but is something that changes your perception of everything.
Seeing things differently
There is no question that running changes you: it does it physically and it does it mentally. You lose weight or stay in shape, and most importantly, you realize little by little that you are reacting to life differently than you used to: you give the right weight to things, anxiety is an increasingly sparse attendance of yours, you are more tolerant. Struggling has also taught you to have a different relationship with food: knowing the physical exertion and what commitment is required to keep fit you think long and hard before eating something you know you will struggle to get rid of. At the same time, when you treat yourself to something gluttonous you do so by appreciating it even more and savoring it in its uniqueness. In short: you give more value to things.
After some time running, the picture will become clearer and clearer to you: there is not just training but instead there is something bigger. Imagine the “Training-Recovery-Nutrition” components we often tell you about. They are the Mighty Triad, or, in other words, the three legs on which a complete preparation must stand, which must never neglect how you get the energy you will burn in training and how you will recover the energy spent in running (or any other sport you practice).
Finding your balance
What did this attitude ultimately teach you? That you are a more complex creature than you thought: you are made up of interconnected parts and now you have learned to make them talk to each other.
It is often said of that triad mentioned earlier that it represents a holistic view of life, that is, inspired by the connection between parts, seeking a balance between different things. Sleeping is different from eating and running, and yet each of these activities taken alone would not make your life balanced, while taken together and even with their differences, they manage to find a point of balance.
If you think about it, the same thing happens in your life in general. Work characterizes you but does not define you, how you are in public gives a certain view of you but does not show everything, loneliness defines another aspect of your personality that better sketches your wholeness, as do your feelings for your loved ones. Each of these tiles defines you, and running has given you the awareness to understand this, to see the connections between the parts, to understand how they are not isolated aspects of your life but instead they communicate with each other, positively influencing each other. If running gives you serenity, you will bring it to your work or social relationships; if you have overcome a physical limitation of yours magically you will realize you can do the same thing for a mental and character limitation.
I conclude with a reasonable provocation: maybe it is not true that running has changed you, maybe running has only revealed you. Because having awareness ultimately means understanding who you are.