I have been a rider for about 19 years now, and a runner for around 11ish (I think) off and on. Running doesn’t seem to be a popular recommended workout for riders, at least from what I see in the social media world. However, I have found my running to be so beneficial to my riding!
First of all, running regularly gives me endurance and stamina like nothing else. Have you ever felt winded after jumping a course of jumps in the summertime? I’m sure we all have, but I have found that when I run consistently I don’t. When I am running a lot, or training for a race, I have so much energy that I can go and go and go when I’m working horses. The summer heat does not affect me as much, nor does cold winter weather. Running gives me extra time outside, and helps me to acclimate to the weather conditions. I will say too that we need cardio in our routine for our cardiovascular health. Cardio gets a little overlooked these days, and even sometimes bashed, in the fitness world (at least from I have seen lately), but it is still important. Yes, we all hear and read about what great results women can get from lifting and strength training and I am not denying that. I just think cardio is important too. And I’m a cardio girl, what can I say! Lifting is great, but I believe we still need some form of regular cardio in our routines as well.
Besides the physical benefits running gives me, I get amazing mental benefits as well. Running longer distances give me confidence in my body, and myself, like nothing else. After a ten mile run, I feel like I can do anything. And then the runner’s high wears off, and I have to recover a bit. But after I recover, then I can conquer the world. My point is that developing a level of fitness that allows me to run ten plus miles helps me in other areas of my life, and in the saddle. Distance running is hard. It hurts. And at a certain point, it is mind over matter despite how fit I am. But pushing through the urge to stop helps me to push through difficult rides. I have more resolve, and more determination.
I run because it keeps me physically and mentally fit and strong. I also enjoy it. It gets me outside, and well that runner’s high is like nothing else. Running and riding are similar in the sense that both become very much mental at a certain point. Of course I do not recommend anyone starting out running ten plus miles! It takes a while to work up to distance! I do want to encourage riders to consider adding running into their fitness routines. Even a couple days a week can be beneficial.