If you've been tempted to adopt a more active lifestyle, here, courtesy of an ultra-marathoner, are five benefits of long-distance running.
Why run a marathon? For a spiritual journey as well as an athletic one, Lisa Swan would say. Chad Brower, strategic partnerships director for the Good Samaritan Society and an ultramarathon runner (an ultra is any race longer than 26.2 miles), would agree. Here he shares some life lessons of long-distance running:
After his first marathon, in 2011, Brower got into running longer races. “Your confidence builds with each race, each distance you complete,” he says. “Ultrarunning has made me see myself in a different light as far as what I’m capable of. That applies to everything in my life. At work, for example, there’s no challenge that’s too great.”
“Beyond the marathon distance, it’s much more mental than physical,” Brower notes. “Your mind says your body wants to quit. It comes down to how you can keep your head and not give up. Things can go wrong. You have to be ready for anything. Your inner survivor comes out.”
Confidence, focus, positivity—all qualities honed by running—have helped Brower become a better leader, at work and at home. “I include my wife and sons in my training,” he says. “Your kids see you living with purpose, with fitness. That’s something they pick up on.”
Brower is energized by the running community. Other runners have helped him reach his goals, including a running coach who wrote a training plan that led him to run more than a thousand miles last year. “I have a great support crew during races,” Brower says. “My wife is the main person. Nothing picks you up like seeing a familiar face at an aid station. Friends—and my youngest son—have run segments to pace me. I didn’t set out to inspire others, but it feels good to find out someone’s running because of what I’ve done.”
“The biggest eye-opener was discovering the spiritual component of long-distance running,” Brower says. “Church is more about fellowship. Trail running is my sanctuary. It’s very meditative. Out there alone on the trail, I feel more connected to my faith. Sometimes I pray while I’m running. Other times I just let my thoughts flow. You can hit the trail with a really congested mind. Then as you’re running, thoughts become clearer. Direction becomes clearer.”
Visit good-sam.com/guideposts to hear more from Chad Brower about the spiritual aspects of long-distance running.
For more inspiring stories, subscribe to Guideposts magazine.