Although running is an elegantly simple endeavor, understanding the bio-psychological processes of the experience is somewhat more involved. For those new to the term, biopsychology applies biological principles to the study of “physiological, genetic and developmental mechanisms of behavior.” It is also referred to as behavioral neuroscience, psychobiology and biological psychology.
Neuroscience has shown that the repetitive motions and complex cognitive functions of running can trigger neurotransmitters, chemicals that boost the brain’s connectivity, thought patterns and decision-making—human qualities that are often compromised by the stress of life, especially in these troubled political times. Meanwhile, spiritual traditions remind us that turning our attention outward, from self-concern to the welfare of others, is the key to peace, love, and sanity. Why not bring these two streams together?
Coaches and competitors alike are constantly grappling with the question of making concessions to age. There have always been inspirational runners who defy conventional beliefs regarding aging and human performance. Even if I were to advance some novel argument touting the merits of running to attain long term health and longevity, the truth of the matter is that the biopsychology of aging remains largely a mystery.