We all know that there are a lot of health benefits of running. It’s good for your heart, head, waist, core, legs, and joints. It can even give you a natural high! But, here is one health benefit of running you likely don’t know about: your running performance can reflect your overall health.
Why is running good for you?
Running is the tip of the health iceberg.
Obviously, if you’re a runner, you’re likely very healthy and on the receiving end of all the aforementioned health benefits of running. But if your running performance is suffering, it may be the result of something not functioning well in your body. In other words, your running performance can be the tip of the iceberg for your overall health.
I know a handful of Mother Runners who realized their health needed attention because something was off with their running. Some discovered not so serious concerns like iron deficiencies. Others discovered chronic auto-immune diseases.
Related: Running with MS
Lessons from a bad workout.
This was the case with me.
One fall, my running wasn’t going so hot. Many runs I kept looking at my Garmin thinking I was running much faster than I was. An easy pace was taking too much effort. Then, after one particular track workout, I completely crashed and burned. My mile repeats were almost a minute off the pace. My coach texted me on my cool-down and requested I get some blood work done.
I’m glad I listened. Turns out I had a host of issues—from completely whacked out hormones, nutrient deficiencies, food allergies, a big-time gut bacteria imbalance, and a low thyroid. Many of these problems likely arose after having my son (and one ill-fated trip to Mexico). For much of his life (he was almost 2 at this point), I often felt inexplicably tired, icky, and moody. I thought I was just worn out from being a mom of two young kids, working from home, and training. Little did I know that my health was actually the culprit.
Related: Iron deficiency signs in runners
Listen to your body.
Had I not addressed some of these issues they could have turned into serious health problems. (For example, sky high estrogen can lead to cancer). I would still be feeling bad many days, accepting that as the norm and falling short of the mother (and runner!) I want to be. If I wasn’t a runner, I may have never realized I had these issues and they would have gone unaddressed.
Related: How this mother runner cheated death when running a marathon.
Us Mother Runners are incredibly self-aware. When anything feels a bit off, we know it. I encourage you to keep this mindset with all aspects of your body and health. Just because you’re working hard and sleeping less, doesn’t mean that feeling worn-out all day long is the way it has to be! Please take the time to ensure everything is working the way it should. NOTHING is more important!