I’m totally addicted to sweaty-faced, jelly-legged, all-weather running. From massive mental health benefits and city mapping to living out Taylor Swift fantasies, these are all the reasons you should lace up your trainers and hit the city streets or woodland trails.
1. Let’s start with the enormous pocket-friendly pro to running. It’s totally free. If you’ve got some old leggings and a pair of knackered trainers in the cupboard you can go for a run anywhere, and if you live by a sandy beach you don’t even need the shoes. Running has to be the cheapest and most flexible way to stay fit – it works around any schedule, whether you can manage a 10k of a Saturday afternoon or just a twenty minute session round the block after work.
2. Remember when you were a kid and you ran everywhere, just for the pleasure of it? Regular running as a grown-up recaptures a little bit of that childish glee, and you might surprise yourself with little bursts of joy as you leap up some stairs or do a sprint along a flat bit. And if you haven’t been feeling much exuberance out running lately, you could always try the Phoebe method.
3. Running is an easy health fix. Fit in a jog a few times a week and you’ll quickly see how it sculpts and tones your body and increases your stamina and concentration for other sports too. Finding it hard to get out of bed and into your trainers? Try promising yourself that if you hate it you can turn around after 10 minutes – I guarantee you’ll want to keep going. Remember that you feel a lot of the benefits of running when you’re not running. We’ve all been for a jog which just felt like a painful, difficult slog but sticking out a session like that will make you feel a million times better during the rest of the day. Oh you can eat loads of cake and still feel smug.
4. Running is sociable. Join a club if you’re new to a city, or cajole a friend into coming too – you’ll always end up in hilarious conversations on a run, plus a common goal and someone to take your mind off the distance often helps you go twice as far. Promising a friend you’ll fit a run in before work is the perfect way to force yourself out of bed. Then you get to feel self-righteous all day. Photo of Tom and I via Adidas Outdoor.
5. Running is fantastic for your mental health. It gives you a boost of endorphins, fights depression, helps you sleep well. Pounding the pavements is also good for confronting and then dealing with how you’re feeling, especially after a busy day. There’s nothing for venting frustration like attacking a run until you’ve knackered out your legs and sweated your anger away.
6. Running helps get me out into my beloved outdoors every day. If I’m not doing another form of exercise I’ll always go for a quick run, and if I’ve got the time I’ll aim for a trail in the woods. Running forces me out of the house and means that I get at least an hour’s dose of chorophyll, of sunsets, of fresh air and open spaces.
7. Running is the perfect way to get your bearings. I love going out for a jog in any new city and getting lost (with Google maps to guide me home). Exploring on two feet is perfect for discovering little side streets and secret neighbourhoods. I insist on carting my running shoes with me everywhere and now I know little pockets of London, Manhattan and La Paz like the back of my hand.
8. Lastly and very importantly, running allows you to sling on some Beyoncé, turn up the volume on your headphones and pretend you’re rocking out in your very own a music video, just for a little bit. I warn you, though, you may catch yourself loudly and tunelessly singing along to Taylor Swift in front of terrified passers by. Now go shake it off! #sorrynotsorry.