Purposeful Endurance and Giving Back Through Fitness

For the most part, I love running for me.   That might sound selfish, but it’s honest. I love how it clears my head, how it eases my burdens, and how it connects me with mother nature.   Sometimes, that love of running is not enough, and I need perspective about why I run and this athletic community that I am apart of.

Recently, I have met a handful of amazing people who are doing amazing things by giving back through endurance sports.   These individuals are a part of teams like Aingley’s Angels, which gets children with disabilities an opportunity to participate in running, cycling, and triathlon events by pairing them with a volunteer partner who will push or pull them for the entire distance. After a weekend event watching one of these athletes pull a child for 100 miles on a bike ride, the phrase “purposeful endurance” was used, and it stuck in my head.   It has given me a renewed focus as well as a handful of new goals to shoot for.

(TourDeCure Hampton Road, Va. Aingley’s Angels riders finishing after 100 mile bike ride)

What is truly amazing about focusing your endurance activities around giving back, is that there are proven health benefits for YOU!   According to Nicole Detling, Ph.D., sports psychologist and assistant professor at the University of Utah; “Your brain releases endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin when you help someone.”   Why does that help during endurance activities you ask? Well, endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin all help mood, and directly effect the euphoric feeling often referred to as a “runners high.”

After refocusing on why I run, I have been inspired to run for more than just me and have set some pretty high goals for the next few years to help the idea of “purposeful endurance” take flight. Keep your eyes out, there might even be a world record attempt in the near future…

After reading this, I challenge all of you to find a group, a team, or an organization who you can practice “purposeful endurance” with and allow your love of exercise to help make this world slightly better for others!

Don Reichelt- Ultra Runner