I have seen quite a number of articles and studies that show 20 minutes of high intensity interval workouts are more effective at weight loss than 60 minutes of steady cardio such as running.
This has been proven to be true.
But I have seen some bloggers go as far as to criticize distance running. Their argument is that there is no point in running more than 30 or even 20 minutes at a time. Sure this is true if you are only focused on weight loss or fitness, but the long run does have some benefits. And not all of them are physical.
Obviously the longer you run the greater your endurance will improve. Anyone trying to tackle a seemingly impossible distance needs to improve endurance. Long runs are how you do it. Long runs are the staple of half marathon and marathon training. And for good reason. You need to train your body to sustain the activity over a long period of time.
I know not everyone wants to run a marathon. Most people I talk to don’t even want to run a half marathon. Does that mean you should never run a long distance?
No. In fact I encourage everyone to run a long run. At least one.
Here are two other reasons why.
The Runner’s High
The runner’s high is not a myth. It is different for everyone. Some people feel it every time they go out for a run. Others only feel it when their run is over. But no one I talk to has said they felt it while running 20 minutes on the treadmill.
You need to go outside. Run for an hour or more and just take in your surroundings. This works best in a suburban or rural area, but even in big cities you can get lost in the atmosphere as you run. The runner’s high comes at a point when you feel like you are gliding. You may still feel tired, but the run feels so good it becomes euphoric.
The Spiritual Run
Many people agree, running can be spiritual. I know I am about to sound like some hokey religious nut here or something, but I promise I am not pushing Scientology down your throat.
I have had spiritual experiences when I run. This goes beyond the runner’s high and actually does not happen too often. Many times I must be running for hours.
It is the point when the running high has passed, or never even showed up. The body is at such a point of exhaustion your brain is starting to give up. The mind clears of all thought. Nothing matters now except the one or two steps directly in front of you. Suddenly you are in tune with the Earth. This can be an extreme form of meditation.
I know that sounds crazy, and it probably is, but when you are running for four, five, or even ten hours at a time your body becomes stripped bare. It is back to its primal roots and you are at your most vulnerable.
I love the long run.
I do not know many people that say that. I hear people say they hate the long run and only trudge through it to get a medal at the end. But deep down the long run is part of us.
The long run does not make us who we are, it shows us who we have always been.
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