9 Things That Happen to Your Body When You Start a New Running Workout

When you commit to a running program for the first time, you expect to break a sweat and lose some weight, but it can do so much more for your body and mind. Before you know it you'll be running a 10-minute mile and discovering these hidden benefits of running.

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You'll feel energized

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"After I started running, I had way more energy and I would even wake up at 5:30 a.m. to get it in before work," says Dawn Hood, CPT, RYT, studio manager of Embody Health in Kirkland, Washington. "Even though I was getting up so early, I stayed energized all day!" (Check out these habits your 80-year old self will thank you for.)

You'll start eating healthier (without even trying!)

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One of the many benefits of running is that you naturally start to eat a bit healthier because you start to care about how your diet choices will impact your running performance. "When I started running longer distances, I was hungry all the time, but because I was doing so much work I really started thinking about how to fuel my body," says Hood. "I knew if I had chips for dinner, I would not have the energy for my run." Check out these 31 healthy snack ideas.

You'll make time for stretching

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Well, at least you'll finally appreciate the importance of stretching and you might even make an appearance in yoga. Regular stretching will not only make you feel better and prevent injuries, but it also makes you a faster and more efficient runner. You'll quickly realize it's worth a few minutes out of your day. Check out the 13 things yoga instructors won't tell you.

You'll might drop some serious cash

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Once you fall in love with running, there's no looking back at your pre-running life—or your pre-running credit card bill. Sure, going for a jog around your neighborhood is completely free but don't be surprised if you get inspired to start signing up for pricey races (at least the proceeds usually go toward a good cause) and dropping dough on more expensive gear. "I never thought I would spend $20 on socks," says Hood, who once ran one half marathon per month for an entire year. "But I do!"

Your tennis game will improve

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Because running is such and efficient fat-burner and improves your strength, cardiovascular endurance, self-esteem and diet, you'll notice improvements in your tennis game or other sport of choice.

You'll value function over fashion

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Sure, you can still buy leggings in your favorite hot pink, but you'll also start considering where to store your keys and how visible you'll be to oncoming cars. If you thought visors looked funny in the past, you might change your tune after logging eight miles in the hot sun (i.e. too hot for a hat, too sunny to skip it).

Your self-esteem will get a boost

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Whether you've just completed your first half marathon or you were able to run five minutes without stopping for the first time, running gives your confidence a boost. As Hood says, "Each mileage PR [personal record] is a personal victory." (Check out these 10 benefits of exercise.)

You'll become an early bird

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Okay, maybe you'll still prefer a post-work workout, but you will start to prioritize your running workout in a way that you may not have with other forms of exercise in the past. Because of that sense of accomplishment and because it's one of the most tried and true ways to drop pounds and get in shape, you'll start scheduling your runs into your day. The runners' high is real and can be really addicting. Find out what other good changes occur when you start waking up an hour earlier.

You might actually like it!

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Although Hood has plenty of her own personal running experience, she also has experience both training experienced athletes and teaching running for beginners and of the most surprising things that her clients report is that they actually start liking running. Once they realize how great their new running workout makes them feel, they finally stop telling themselves "I'm not a runner." Now trade that in for these terms that all runners should know.

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