The Running Community
The benefit of a community and culture all your own is one of my favorite things about running. Competition, the friends, and the atmosphere of friendliness (even during competition) are all things that the running community can provide.
Whether it be a miler or a marathon, the enthusiastic, welcoming atmosphere of most races is a welcome benefit of the running community. Many races welcome the newest runners to elite runners, all ages, and all speeds. Some races even have large parties after the finish, but most at least have music (sometimes live) playing and food and drinks. All races have camaraderie though, and that's the most important aspect. Whether you compete with yourself or others, whether you place or just try to finish, races can bring many benefits to individuals.
There are also many clubs that are related to running and racing. Whether you go to a track club for a speed workout, a running club for a seminar, or a Hash House Harriers group for running mixed with beer, there is sure to be a group that caters to you and your goals.
One of those benefits is friends. Races are a great place to meet like-minded people. But the racing scene isn't the only way to make friends in the running community. Many people make friends through training. Whether they partake in a training program and meet other people or find them through ads at the local running store, training with people is a surefire way to meet runners and make friends. Another option is online forums. Many running sites offer forums to discuss running and meet other people who share your obsession, trials, and triumphs. As a runner, one often finds times when non-runners just don't get it; those are the times when forums full of other runners are a great alternative. People who understand you and your habit are one of the biggest benefits of the running community.
Running can also be used as a way to contribute to society as a whole. Whether you volunteer at a race or actually run it, many races benefit charities of one sort or another. From running a 5k for a cure to breast cancer to running a marathon for a cure to blood cancer, there are many ways to give back to the running community and beyond.
Whether you look at the health, psychological, or communal benefits of running, one thing is obvious: Running is good for you. It has benefits for all. However, if you still think running isn't right for you, then you may want to consider walking, which is a great alternative to running and has many of the same benefits.