Seeing Runkeeper’s┬ápost on Instagram got me thinking about why I really run. Of course, like most people, I run to stay in shape ( I recently turned 36) and for health reasons. My family has a history of diabetes and high blood pressure and recently my family members have suffered some pretty serious health scares due to them both.

It hits home especially with my older brother, who I have recently started coaching into running and getting himself back into a healthier lifestyle. He suffers from both high blood pressure and diabetes. Sometimes it’s difficult to focus on yourself when you have other responsibilities in life. A little encouragement from someone who cares can go a long way not only towards your physical health goals but also the mental side of changing your lifestyle.

Running for My Mental Health

That brings me to why I run. Physical health is often what most people think about when they say they are going to make changes in their life. Mental health, however, is something that gets overlooked so often in people’s lives—whether it’s an inability to cope with stress or find a positive release from the pressures of their work lives. Finding that release often gets lost or overlooked in everyday life. For me, though, it came in the form of running. I’ve spent my entire life being active, whether it be playing sports, lifting weights, or hiking in the amazing Appalachian mountains where I live, I’ve always managed to stay active. But until I started running, seriously committing myself to a running program with goals, I always felt like I couldn’t fully find a way to break away from the feeling of not being able to unwind from the daily grind.

However, from the time I set my first goal of a 5K until now when I try and find adventures such as the Hellbender 10k in Norton, VA on October 3rd, I’ve seen improvements not only in my physical health but my ability to let go of the stresses of everyday life (at least for a little while, ha!). Combine that with the many wonderful people I’ve met going to races, meeting up for group runs and the sense of accomplishment I get from each milestone I reach, I know that with each goal I set, I have something to look forward to and work towards. Runkeeper has been there with me every step of the way, I know that each time I open the app, I am staying committed to my health and to myself.