The satisfaction of running

  • Scrolling on cell phones has become an automatic gesture that associates instant gratification, but it can be addictive.
  • Running, in contrast, offers slow-release rewards and requires commitment and patience to achieve results.
  • Running generates a positive addiction through the release of endorphins, providing a lasting feeling of well-being.


A gesture that until a few years ago we did not do is scroll down a page to update it. We all do it on our cell phones, and it’s such a natural gesture that we don’t even pay attention to it anymore. Yet 10 years ago it wasn’t like this. Or rather: it was but in a specific environment: that of slot machines, that is, in casinos. This alone should provide some clues. Its mechanics are not random and serve to associate a gesture with a reward, or at least the hope of a reward: will I win after pulling this lever?

When they studied by which gesture the user could refresh the page of the app he or she was viewing, they decided that recreating that same gesture would work very well: after all, we do this-we scroll-while waiting for something to change. A news item, a like, a new email we care about.

That is why we talk about instant gratification today: every day, dozens of times a day, we seek it by obsessively handling our cell phones. That gesture has in fact also an emotional and psychological component: it associates gratification with the execution of the gesture. In other words, our mind waits for something exciting to come after that gesture: in short, it waits for an injection of endorphins. The problem is that it also becomes addicted to it.

Fortunately, we then run.

Slow-release gratifications

At the opposite extreme of seeking these small but frequent gratifications is running. Indeed, one could hardly imagine anything more distant: the satisfactions it gives you in fact:
– are diluted over a very long time
– require effort
– Often they do not lead to the desired results, sometimes they do not lead to any results at all.

Let’s start with one of the many positive aspects of running: while you’re doing it, you can’t be scroling on your cell phone. Oh God, you could do that but with the risk of stumbling into the void in the process. Think about it: you can do it at so many other junctures in you life but you can’t while running, or with some difficulty.

This impediment puts it in a separate category: in short, if you choose to run, you are accepting that you have no instant gratification and indeed, you are postponing those that are (unlikely) to come to an indefinite day.

Why do we do this?

Oh, always these questions! Why why why!
Okay, let’s give an answer, and we do so by analyzing what are the other conditions during which we do not use our cell phones:
1. when we sleep
2. when we are focused on something that requires our attention or we enjoy it
3. when our cellphone is under repair
4. when we strive not to use it.

There are not many other cases where we can’t/won’t use it, really.
Among them, the case 1. It is necessary and vital and does not produce gratification but only rest, the 2. Produces pleasure or satisfaction of a duty, the 3. Whatever, bad luck and the 4. It is an imposition that That can frustrate us.

Instead, when we run we are unconsciously trading instant gratification for a more lasting one, which we know will not come soon but which we accept anyway. After all, we have decided to play a sport in which our chances of winning are practically zero, it is obvious that the reasons are other.

The trade off

It is clear that we accept a different kind of gratification for other reasons. In the case of running, it is not even a similar gratification as the endorphin shot that the cell phone gives you. Or rather: the nature is the same but the release is much slower and longer lasting. The feeling you have after running stays with you for hours, sometimes lasting even the day after. We often talk about the vicious-virtuous circle because the well-being that comes from running, creates a good addiction that induces continuous renewal.

Consciously or unconsciously, we seek out that deeper feeling that only running gives you, not least because we understand its far superior quality compared to the endorphin microdoses of the cell phone, which instead create an addiction that only drives one to repeat the action, knowing full well that the degree of satisfaction is increasingly paltry and the toxic need to procure it enslaves us more and more.

They don’t call it accidentally “infinite scroll”-you could do it forever without reaching the end, while in the meantime the gratification you derive from it fades more and more.

Running, on the other hand, involving body and mind united in effort and fatigue, generates a storm of endorphins.
One becomes addicted to it, it is true: but how good is that?



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