A Better Man Because I Run

Nathan Smith: “School counselor by day, father, blogger, runner, and all sorts of other stuff the rest of the time. Born and raised in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in southern Alberta, and proud to be an outdoors enthusiast, keen on reconnecting with the world around me through my soles to my soul. Training for my first ultra (again), the Le Grizz 50 miler in northern Montana. Loving and learning; living and laughing.”

(This post originally appeared on Nathan’s In Between My Toes blog. My thanks to Nathan for allowing it to appear here. ~Alan)

While running is an increasingly holistic practice for me, I have divided it’s consequences into four areas, physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual (how very Western of me). I find it easier to reflect on the benefits if I compartmentalize them this way.


Running makes me stronger, energizes me, and increases my cardiovascular capacity. I’ve lost 30 lbs to running.

Running barefoot strengthens and re-stimulates my feet as well as improves my posture. The increased sensations powerfully feed my running habit.


Running has introduced me to a vast, new community of healthy minded, character-rich individuals. Every race event acquaints me with at least one new person that I learn and grow from.

Running barefoot forces me to step out of my comfort zone, advocating the barefoot movement. Bucking social norms helps me to identify myself as an individual.


Running both clears and stimulates my mind, very much a therapeutic tool.

Running barefoot promotes brain cell regeneration by rebuilding connections between my feet and brain. Even my memory and capacity to focus seem more acute.


Running is a challenge. By pitting myself against myself, I am able to learn of my weaknesses and turn some of them into strengths, increasing capacity and building character.

Running barefoot has increased my self awareness and the consciousness of my surroundings. I am grateful everyday for the ability to run and for the beautiful places within which I can run.

While this list is far from all-inclusive, it is the beginning of self-reflection on what running is for me. Running makes me a better person. Running barefoot expedites the process. Time to go do some running!


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