Running is a big hobby these days. You can’t drive around Tulsa without seeing people’s 13.1 or 26.2 stickers on their cars, boldly proclaiming that they’ve completed half or full marathons. And on the weekends the parks are full of people training–you can watch them do lap after lap.
Have you ever watched the expressions on these runners? Many of them look like they’re in such pain you wonder why they do it. But the smart ones are smiling. Smiling while running can help you be a better runner.
Smiling Can Make Running Seem Easier
One of the key factors to understand about smiling is that it isn’t just an effect of your mood, it can be a cause of your mood. Our brains operate using feedback loops to understand and interpret our feelings. Partly, you smile because you are happy, but once the brain perceives that your smiling muscles are activated, your brain takes that as confirmation of your mood.
The same thing can happen with negative expressions, too. When you perceive that you’re working hard when you’re running, you’ll frown. And when you frown, your brain reads that facial muscle activity and confirms that, yeah, you’re working hard. Maybe too hard. And then you’re more likely to bonk.
But when you smile, you can break that cycle. It’s not the amount of effort that leads to bonk, it’s the perception of effort that can really stop you. And when you smile your brain may read the effort from your legs and see that you’re working hard, but then it reads the data from your face and concludes, “We’re smiling, it can’t be that bad!” This can make it easier for you to maintain your effort for longer.
Smiling Can Reduce Pain
But maybe your wall isn’t made up of effort. Maybe it’s made up of pain. Smiling can help there, too. Studies have shown that people who are asked to frown during an unpleasant procedure report more pain than those who are asked to make a relaxed expression during the procedure. Smiling can help you avoid that extra pain.
The positive effect of smiling can be significant, too. When you smile, your brain releases endorphins. Endorphins are nature’s pain relievers, and they’re a major part of achieving a runner’s high. So smiling through your run can help you avoid the pain and feel better during and after a run.
You Never Know Where the Cameras Are
If running is the main thing you do, the odds are good that most pictures your friends and family see of you on social media will be from your races. You can try to put on your smile just for the camera, but it almost never works. If you’re not smiling for the run, the odds that you can put on a smile just in time a picture to be taken seem pretty slim.
It only takes a few of those grimacing pictures to show up on FB before you realize that it might be better to just put on a smile for the run. And with the other reasons it can help you finish strong, why wouldn’t you want to?
If You’re Unhappy with Your Smile
Perhaps the reason you don’t want to smile while running is that you’re unhappy with the appearance of your smile. If this is the case, let us help. A smile makeover can help you improve all the aspects of your smile that might make you unhappy, including discolored teeth, worn teeth, chipped teeth, or even missing teeth.