Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Running on the Sunny Side of the Street: Thankfulness

Not a shot of my running route, but some sunny countryside nearby on another day.

Yesterday I finally felt almost completely over my cold virus. I say "almost" because I still had a cold-headache, but with enough Advil that disappeared well enough for me to live my normal life and do all my usual things. (Monday, too, actually, although that may have been due to sheer force of will, since I really, really needed to shop for groceries and I had to take all three of us girls to the dentist, yikes.)

I went out for a "real" run (read: not a lame failed attempt at one like last Saturday, when I gave up after 2-1/2 miles). I ran--verrrrrry slowly, but still--my full 6-mile trail route. And I was so, so happy. The sun was blazing. It was almost 40 degrees, after a day of 10-degree windchill the day before. Forty degrees is perfect running weather. You start out chilly, if you under-dress the right amount (which is only under-dressing if you're not going to be running), and when you're in the thick of it you're not miserably pouring sweat down every surface of your body like you are in July. Nice.

I was in the best mood afterward. At last. Even though the run was super-slow. Even if I knew I'd be a little sore today. Even though my at-home to-do list was a mile long. It didn't matter. I had just spent an hour in the sunshine. In the woods. Over the prairie. In my beautiful, wild, running place.

If anyone has ever had any doubt about the fact that a.) sunshine and b.) exercise actually biologically change your brain chemicals, increasing the ones that make you feel happy, all they need to do is look inside my brain. Oh, and did you know that studies have shown that exercising outdoors improves mood more than exercising indoors? So there you go.

And so, today, I am thankful for sunshine. And though I already said it on an earlier November day, I am incredibly thankful for running, and for the arboretum in which I run. It deserves repeating.

What about you? Does sunlight affect your mood? I live in Minnesota, so that dynamic is far more common amongst people here than in other parts of the country where it's not cold and snowy for so much of the year. But I know it's still true for many people.

And what are you thankful for today?

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