University and College years are often described as a time of self-discovery. For myself, my discovery came in the form of developing a new love and hobby; running. In my second year, I saw a friend fundraise around $1000 for a charity through the Scotiabank Marathon charity challenge. This was incredibly inspiring to me. Having been volunteering with the charity Second Harvest through a university club, I wanted to take my philanthropy further. So, I signed up for Scotiabank half and several races proceeding it. I laced up my shoes 4 times a week and hit the pavement to train!
In my last two years at the University of Toronto, I ran 8 races and went between 5 different running groups. Often, I showed up to run groups and noticed a prominent missing demographic, students. Why was this?
There are many students who are involved in athletic endeavours where running would be great cross-training. Not to mention it’s a great stress reliever with a strong community in Toronto and other cities. For many students, building time in for fitness is difficult in between piles of readings, pending exams and assignment deadlines. Also, commitments to clubs and part-time jobs take up free time as well, and that’s completely understandable. For myself as an undergrad, getting myself up in the morning and lacing up my shoes felt painful some days. Especially after all-night study sessions powered by 3 cups of coffee, however, the rewards were much greater than the losses. These are three reasons I encourage participation in the run community for undergrad and graduate students.
Increased Social Circle
In University, your social circle can easily become limited to being only other university students. However, relationships with non-university age people can be equally (if not more) beneficial to your social network. People of many age groups and walks of life attend running groups. The more running groups I joined, the more friends I made around the city. Broadening my network outside of my university allowed me to discover new job and volunteer opportunities, and a mature friend circle.
As my interest moved away from college parties to endeavours that could aid my running, my run group friends became the perfect people to try new things with. In many ways, running groups are a non-intended social networking forum. I met people from diverse backgrounds and work industries through our shared love of running. Also, many run groups facilitate social events as well like runs to local restaurants and pubs in the city, which were great for connecting with people. If meeting people at college parties, fraternities, and clubs isn’t your forte there’s plenty of people to be met through running groups! I went from being strangers with the people at running groups to regularly attending Barrys Bootcamp and F45 classes with them!
With increased training both solo and with my running groups I had to revaluate my schedule to make everything fit. Staying up until 1 am was no longer working for me in terms of training for races. Training caused me to flip my entire daily schedule upside down, by maximizing my mornings rather than sleeping them away. Slowly over time, I have trained my body to wake up between 6:30-7:00 am. This allows me to fit in a run, a few hours of studying, and time for a proper breakfast before 10 am!
For other students I know in the run community, they always talk about how running helped them shake bad habits like procrastinating, heavy drinking and partying. Many of us also improved our diet and meal prepping skills to aid in our training. Losing bad habits simultaneously increased their academic success along with their athleticism! Now as a graduate student, my early morning runs are the highlight of my day that gets me up and going. Building time in for running can be challenging, but it also challenged me to efficiently schedule my day to maximize my training results and overall productivity.
Let’s face it, university is stressful. When those stressful sessions hit, it curling up in bed and watching Netflix is appealing. However, one of the many benefits of running is its release of endorphins, which decrease your stress levels. There were definitely days I didn’t feel like going to run club. However, stepping away from studying for an hour to interact with people while exercising often improved my mood. Also, seeing myself push through the challenge of running 3 half marathons gave me increased confidence to push through challenges in school. Therefore if you’re looking for a healthy outlet to channel your stress as a student, the run community is a good place for you ? .
If this article has sold you on the benefits of running groups as a student I’m glad! Check out the running groups page on our website to find a group near you!