How Running Changed My life (And How It Can Change Yours Too)

by Tony Michaels

Exercise hasn't always been a key element of my life. However, recently, it's become an empowering one for me. The way you see yourself is one of the most important factors in creating your happiness. In a world where appearance is of maximal importance, how you feel about yourself is equally important and will be reflected in the way you present yourself.

Buying new clothes, the newest phone, and luxury cars can get expensive. They are nice but they are also shallow ways to boost your esteem. This small self-esteem boost will certainly not last very long. Conversely, having a high sense of self-esteem will last for quite a while. Why not try something new to boost your self-esteem and enhance the overall quality of your life?

I did. Trying to carefully pick up on habits and what makes people do the things they do, I started watching my coworkers more intrinsically. I've matured a great deal in the last few years, and I've been actively trying to decipher what separates the ambitious from the dormant.

There were two types of people in my office environment: the powerful, insightful, intelligent leaders, and the employees, the seat-fillers or "watchers" - definitely not the doers of the office. I looked for the why, I wanted to discover what made these two types of people tick the way they do.

What stood out to me initially was the difference between the sedentary and the active. My boss and mentor, along with the other partners at the law firm I work at, often take breaks during the day to go running. I didn't really pick up on it until recently, and I had never had much interest in running. It always seemed boring, repetitive, like a waste of time.

I did want to try something new though. After work one day, I went for a mile long run. My legs hurt, it was exhausting. But there was something extremely gratifying after I was done, something I didn't earn through lifting weights or other exercise methods. The following day I went running too. The sense of accomplishment was addictive. Maybe there was something to this.

A month in, my appetite was growing. I picked up a book called “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain.” Learning how the operation of the brain evolves during and through aerobic exercise was stimulating and gave me that much more motivation to keep going.

I become obsessed and wanted to keep trying this newfound strategy to better myself, and my self-image. It's incredible how 30 minutes a day of running transforms your brain into a better version of its past self; it literally increases neuron activity, boosts overall function, and prevents symptoms of depression or anxiety from entering your life.

As animals, we weren't designed to sit in an office chair for eight hours a day, only to go home and lay on our couch for another eight hours of TV time, before going to bed to use our last eight hours of the day for sleep.We were designed to move around.

Humans have to exercise the body and the mind, something aerobic exercise accomplishes simultaneously. And when you say you don't have 30 minutes a day to spare, save it. Excuses only help you justify your closed-minded approach to stepping outside of your comfort zone, which is something I once knew about very well.

That first day I ran was about 100 days ago, and I ran my first half marathon last week. All 13.1 miles of this race were not a walk in the park, but my training had gotten to the point where I was ready.

Crossing the finish line was another “spark.” It was another milestone; another rung on the ladder to success had been climbed. I began my full marathon training today and after I run my first marathon, perhaps I'll begin training for a triathlon.

The message here is persistence. Some days are easier than others to get out of bed. Some days it's harder to push yourself to run that thirteenth mile.

It took me all this time to realize that something as simple as running 30 minutes a day can better your life in so many ways. Not only are you a better version of yourself mentally, but also physically. You become stronger, leaner, and more toned. You start noticing that success breeds success. You'll push yourself even harder than you knew you could.

I'm not asking you to give up drinking, your social life, or SportsCenter. I'm not saying you should change your lifestyle, and go run the Chicago marathon. What I am asking is that you give running a try.

The least you can do for yourself is to try something different, make a change. Who knows...maybe in 100 days you'll find yourself running a half marathon like I did.

The definition of persistence is, “A firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty.” So get out there, try something new, be persistent, push yourself to grow and stop making excuses. Something as simple as running can have a profound effect on your life, and you'll never know what you're capable of until you try.

Top Photo Credit: Getty Images