My alarm shrills at 6:15am and I wake up to the sound of blistering gales and cold rain against my window. Rather than fall back to sleep inside the cosy, sumptuous sheets, I throw off the duvet and slip into my running trainers, ready to hit the pavement and face the elements outside. You think I’m mad? So do most people.
What is it about running that keeps me and thousands of people across the UK relentlessly returning to the road for more? A recent walk along the London Embankment demonstrated that running is fast becoming a national bug and when thought about, it’s easy to see why it’s catching so fast…
Most of us find that find University life can be extremely hectic with add pressures and stress coming from all directions. Suddenly, you find yourself having to balance a hectic social life with study time and weekly trips to Asda. There can be little time to think, so for me, running has been an escape from all that University life encapsulates.
Every time I finish a good run, I am energised and ready for the nightlife ahead (especially if I have so happened to buy a daring new outfit beforehand). Or, my pre-deadline stress is altogether eliminated and I am ready to tackle that 3000-word essay ready for the next day.
More importantly though, I am yet to discover a more effective hangover cure than running it off the next morning! Freshers, trust me on this; I speak from experience.
It is a well-known fact that exercise releases endorphins, otherwise known as the ‘happy hormone’ and this natural high is enough for most people to keep coming back to the pavement for more. It is about the healthiest addiction a person can have; a twenty minute run outside in the fresh air gives you as much of an energy kick as a fresh cup of coffee.
Additionally, researchers at Cambridge University conducted a study in January this year to find that regular running can significantly improve your memory and cognitive skills, encouraging the growth of new brain cells! So, it isn’t all about achieving a 1:1 on the race track…
Economically too, running is arguably the savviest way to stay healthy. Tim Hutchings, a former Olympic 5,000 metre runner points out that “With the financial climate we’re in, people are jacking in their gym membership and you can buy a very nice pair of running shoes for the same price as a single month’s membership. The facility they need is just outside the front door.”
A decent pair of trainers will set you back about £60, but this is as far as your student loan need stretch; there is no need to splash out for a gym membership when the treadmill can be substituted for a more scenic route in the great outdoors, for free.
“Running is arguably the savviest way to stay healthy.”
Increased popularity is demonstrated by the fact that the London Marathon had record entries this year with the largest number of people ever turned away. Full and half marathons take place throughout the year in participating cities across the country. So, if ever looking for a refreshed sense of purpose, runners have ample opportunity to partake in a number of official circuits across the UK and, indeed, worldwide.
It goes without saying then, that this adaptability and sense of freedom that accompanies the lifestyle of ‘a runner’ is one of the strongest incentives that keeps us hooked. It is one of the prime motivators for hauling ourselves out of bed in the morning to face the cold weather outside, or to forego a lazy session in front of the TV for an energising blitz in the fresh air outside.
A chore? A waste of time? All I can say is don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. Once you have, once you’ve achieved that first personal milestone and are preparing for the next and once you experience the endorphin rush and realise the sense of freedom that accompanies a fresh early morning run, you’ll want to reconsider your previous definition. You will no doubt come to understand how and why I will continually forego my lie ins, in favour of clocking up some miles and pounding the frosty pavements throughout the winter mornings ahead.