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Why committing to running will change you for the better

When Tara turned her focus to running, she started to see instant improvements in other areas of her life.

Runner tying sport shoes

I’m not the only person who has seen significant changes in myself after taking up and sticking to running. I think I’m a better person now that I have discovered and committed to the sport. Upon reflecting on how I’ve changed recently, I decided to focus on the top five most significant.

RELATED: Why I’m coming back to competitive sport after a 15-year hiatus

Discovering staying power:

I think most runners would agree you have to love running to stick with it, otherwise the demands of the sport will easily deter you. However, if you have the will and patience to stay the course, it will change you for the better. There have been times on this journey when I’ve been frustrated and tempted to walk away, but my love of the sport, and belief in my ability to run, has kept me on track. It seems, in following your passion, staying power follows closely behind.

Saying goodbye to instant gratification:

We’re all tempted, at times, to seek quick results and feel the rush of instant gratification. I experienced this validating feeling on a daily basis in the news business. As a reporter, I saw immediate results of my work every day in print and on television. I came to rely on this “rush” to fuel my desire to do the work. This all changed when I turned my attention to coming back to competitive sport. Now, as a runner, my daily achievements are marked in training journals, miles on the trails and laps around the track. These quieter, less-public daily gains, are anything but instant, but they are rewarding because they are moving me closer to personal achievements worthy of more than a passing moment.

RELATED: I lost 100 pounds from running to and from work

Running brain:

Study after study shows the powerful and positive impact that exercise has on mental health. Anyone who runs will likely attest to this — myself included. When I was diagnosed with ADHD last year, I had already made the decision to turn my focus to running so I was fortunate to have a highly effective tool already in my belt. However, it’s taken time, a lot reading, and many conversations with professionals, and loved ones to understand how to effectively use running to harness the positive attributes that come with ADHD. Mental condition or not, we all have minds that benefit greatly from moving more.

Getting physical:

Whether a beginner runner, or a lifelong one, the physical benefits of running are undeniable. I’m far more healthy now than I was before I started running. I went from having daily drinks, to having no interest in alcohol; and from being caffeine addicted, to reaching for water and protein shakes instead. Of course, there are other more obvious physical benefits to consistent cardiovascular exercise (and with the daily strength and stretching routines that come with it). My energy is much more even keeled, I sleep well, and my heart, lungs, muscles, and bones are getting what they need to be healthy now, and in the future.

Connecting with others:

Running is an empowering sport for many people. For me, it’s where I feel most confident and where I feel most free. Embracing this has helped me open myself up to meaningful long-lasting relationships. The running community is filled with warm, engaging, and caring people – that has been one of the pleasant surprises I’ve encountered along the way. There’s a world of runners out there to discover. And, beyond those future relationships, you may find your current relationships thriving. As a runner, I’m a better partner, aunt, sister and daughter simply because I’m a happier person.