How long distance running helps your mind as well as your body

If what they say is true that the best way to achieve a healthy mind is to achieve a healthy body then there is no better way of doing this than through cardiovascular exercise. Because both the heart and the brain are muscles the more we use them the stronger they become. One of the best ways to do both is by taking up some form of long distance running which is defined as anything in excess of five miles.

When people think of long distance running the first thing that springs to mind is marathon running. A marathon is usually a long distance road race ran ove a length of twenty six miles three hundred and eighty five yards. The format has not really changed since the first marathon was ran at the first modern Olympics in 1896. The current world record holders are Samuel Wanjiru of Kenya for the men in 2hr 6mins 32secs and Tiki Gelana of Ethiopia in the womens in a time of 2hr 323mins and 7secs. The number of record holders from the Eastern Africa is not unusual because they train at high climates where the air it thinner forcing the heart to work harder. Marathon runners must have great mental strength in order to block out any pain they might be feeling.

Another form of long distance, or endurance running, is cross country. Often in cross country people will also run in teams over countryside terrain like grass and dirt. Teams often add the word harriers to their names which translates literally to dogs. Although they are usually ran at much shorter distances than marathons, mental toughness is still required as most races happen outside during the colder parts of the year so athletes have to endure all kinds of weather conditions such as snow, rain and hailstones.

A final form of endurance running is mountain or fell running. This is arguable one of the toughest sports to prepare for as it involves basically running off road over hilly, mountainous, rugged terrain. This requires both excellent mental and physical dexterity as well as extreme concentration. One of the most difficult runs is the Three Peaks challenge in the UK where runners have to scale the highest peaks of Wales, England and Scotland in less than 24 hours. Endurance running is not for the faint hearted but if you want to improve your mental health you have to improve your physical health.


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