What do you think of when you think about running? If you’re like many CrossFitters, the idea of running more than 400 meters at a time may cause dread, fear, nausea (and, dare I say, cherrypicking?). However, there are lots of reasons why you should run more often, even when running isn’t part of our 26-programmed workout.

Here are just a few.

Running Improves Your Engine

Running improves performance in workouts like Murph, which begins and ends with a one-mile run. However, logging some extra miles outside of class time can improve performance in WODs that don’t even call for running.

Longer jogs at a comfortable pace make your heart and lungs more resilient to acute stressors (in this case, exercise). These adaptations are helpful during runs, of course, but also in other CrossFit workouts.

Don’t believe me? Look at the gym leaderboard for a longer benchmark workout like Filthy Fifty. Our top performers, by and large, are those who have dabbled in endurance sports.

Running Builds Muscle Endurance

Another good reason why you should run more? Because it helps boost muscle endurance.

Running works your quads, hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors, calves, and abs—as well as lesser-known muscles that run along the shins. As such, blocking out some time to run can help improve your muscle stamina in double unders, high volume thrusters, and other common CrossFit movements.

Running Makes You Mentally Stronger

You know that amazing feeling you get when you get through tough workout at the gym? The same goes for running. Every time you keep pushing on when your mind tells you to stop running, you get a little tougher (and, bonus, a little more confident).

This is something that will help you in the gym, and also in life.

Running Can Be Used for Active Recovery

Active recovery refers to brief and easy bouts of exercise that are intended to help muscles recharge every few training days (or, after particularly intense workouts).

Jogging a couple of miles at an easy pace can help with recovery by increasing blood flow to the muscles. The trick is to take it easy. Stick to 20-30 minutes max, at an intensity where you could hold  a conversation. Skip the workout altogether if you’re feeling run down, if you have localized pain, or if it’s been a while since you’ve taken a true rest day.

Running is Meditative

You’ve heard of the runners’ high, no? Runners can thank endorphins for that to some extent, but any runner will tell you that jogging can also be meditative. Here’s a great post on the similarities between the two.

Sure, it may take a little time for new runners to get there, but over time you may find yourself more zen without even trying. That said, the meditation app Headspace has partnered with  Nike Run Club to create 15 guided meditations for runners.  You can try those out here if you’re interested,  or check out the book Running with a Mind of Meditation.

Now that You Know Why You Should Run….

Ready to lace up those sneakers? Awesome! Head out there and hit the pavement (just be sure to ramp up your distance gradually, if it’s been a while).

However, knowing why you should run doesn’t always make it easy to do. That’s why our resident ultramarathon queen has created our 800 to 5K program—to help you learn how to fit running into your CrossFit routine.

The 800 to 5K is designed for beginners and experienced runners alike and is intended to build running skill and stamina.

The 6-week program kicks off with a seminar on April 4th and concludes with a graduation 5K. Space is limited—sign up today!