Can running make you happy?

Hi Everyone!


Huge congrats to all of our racers on Sunday. Those were some hot and challenging conditions, and you all put your hearts and bodies on the line and went for it. I am so proud of you!


What I’ve been thinking about: More than once I have heard someone say to myself or someone else: “Wow. You run/bike/workout so much. I wish I could do that”. And I think Do you? Why? If you’re happy not doing all of that so much, why wish yourself into a bigger compulsion? Running doesn’t make you a better person. But then I thought … does it – can it make you happier?


I was listening to a podcast where the guest defined happiness as a combination of these three macro-ingredients: Pleasure, Satisfaction and Purpose. The trick is in finding the balance between all of these three. Under this lens, I would say then that running certainly can provide all of these ingredients. 


The pleasure principle in running might not seem obvious at first (because it takes some will and faith to get there), but there are definitely some runs I have with friends or even solo on a beautiful day when my thoughts and legs are flowing, that feel like pure pleasure. It just feels good. There is definitely a large dose of pleasure in the post-run glow of endorphins and dopamine. Again, it takes some work to get there, but it’s definitely part of the equation.


Satisfaction with running is an obvious one. We set a goal, work towards it, learn a lot along the way, and sometimes achieve it. Sometimes we don’t. But there are definitely satisfying milestones along the way. The key here is setting yourself up so that you can be satisfied. Never-ending goals always outside of your reach are not satisfying, and therefore not part of the happiness equation. But neither is never reaching or striving, and always sitting in your comfort zone, so there is an elusive balance there also. We have to learn how to make it satisfying to ourselves.


Purpose is a big one. Can you find purpose in your running? Many people can. I believe the people who have been in it the longest have found purpose. Purpose through running can be things like finding and contributing to community. It can be the relationships. It can be being a mentor or a mentee. It can be finding the growth and learning opportunities whether you succeed or fail. It can be taking what you’ve learned and using it to help others – in running or other areas of life. I see that a lot in our community. There is a big, purposeful generous spirit here.


So, can running make you happy? Maybe it can. Win or lose, it’s being able to find pleasure in the moments, enjoying the striving, and learning and giving back. And maybe those people who wished they ran/biked/worked out more are actually wishing they had the key to happiness.


Onto tomorrow’s workout – back to Lakeshore! 6:05 drills, 6:15 Go time (we’ll be sharp bc people are back in offices now)


  1. Cut-downs! 1600-1200-1000-800-600-400-200 – all w 2 mins. Starting at tempo and working down in pace. I leave it up to you guys how much you want to lean into these. If training for an upcoming race or trying to get your fitness up, you can start hard and finish harder. If you’re talking yourself into it one rep at a time, start easy and see how it goes. Both are fine and fit into different phases of life and training.


  1. If doing this fartlek style, 6-5-4-3-2-1-(30sec) min Hard w 2 mins Easy.


That is all – have fun and see you soon!