I’m just a nicer person when I run

It’s Sunday morning, and I’m sitting at my desk overlooking my garden. The sun is shining and everything is brilliantly green from all the rain we’ve been having. The screen in front of me, however, is blurry. It’s blurry because I just spent the last few minutes weeping. Tears pour down my face as I watched the gut-wrenching final scene of the 1979 film The Champ. I dare you to watch it and not cry.

At this point, I’m sure you’re confused as to why I’m writing about this in my update on 3D LILA. I blame entirely the article shared with me about The Mind-Clearing magic of running explained by neuroscience. I was intrigued and hence the watching, and the crying, and the morning emotions.

I wasn’t surprised by the data and insights in the article. If you’re not going to click through and read it yourself, the (spoiler alert) research notes that after you’ve been for a jog, you’re a nicer person. I laughed out loud when I read that. I’m often asked “why running?” when talking about my journey with 3D LILA, my answer has always been “I’m just a nicer person when I run.”

What intrigued me was the mix of activities activated in your brain that stimulates memory, empathy, goal setting, and daydreaming. If you’ve been reading/listening to me here for any length of time, you know I regularly struggle with staying focused on my goals. I struggle to find my “why” when I need to make one choice over another. I struggle with managing my reaction to the now of my choice rather than the consequence of the later.

I should invent the drug that manifests the same joy and motivation that magically appears about 15 minutes into my run.

Choice: Do I stay nice and warm and skip the run today, or do I head out into the cold and wetness because it’s good for me?

Choice: Do I politely decline or defeatedly succumb when my eager dinner date asks “Shall we have dessert?” while eyeing the perennial favorite chocolate decadence thing on the menu?

I’ve also told myself loudly that I should invent the drug that manifests the same joy and motivation that magically appears about 15 minutes into my run. And no, it’s not that “runner’s high” people always talk about; this isn’t just a rush of endorphins. It’s more like a big kind hand at your back gently nudging you forward.  

So science tells me that a jog in the hills is good for my head, and I just need to remind myself of that. Maybe I should tweak my question:

Choice: What can I do here that might activate kindness, motivation, and imagination?

That’s a pretty good question when faced with chocolate cake.

So thanks, Ricky Schroder for the weep this morning. Having a good cry is pretty good too. I’m off for a run.

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