Running is becoming an increasingly popular hobby. More and more people are realizing the benefits of running’s personal challenge. There may be other people there, but what you’re really racing against is yourself: trying to get a better time, trying to get stronger, trying not to bonk.

Psychology plays a big part in these struggles, and smiling while running can help give you the edge you need to achieve your goals.

Run with a smile.

Running Doesn’t Seem as Hard with a Smile

When you’re trying to go farther and faster than ever, there’s a part of you that wants to give up. Running is just so hard, you think, that it’s just not worth it right now. This isn’t actually because of the difficulty of running, it’s because of your perception of the difficulty of running. What matters is not your actual effort, so much as your perception of effort. And smiling can help you perceive a task as being easier.

This is because our facial expressions aren’t just a reflection of your mood, they can influence your mood. Your brain doesn’t just tell you to frown because you’re feeling bad, it reads your frowning expression and concludes that you must be feeling bad. This is likely why tasks performed while frowning seem harder than tasks performed while smiling. When you’re smiling, your brain reads that expression and concludes that, despite your effort, things can’t be too bad because you’re smiling.

Pain Isn’t as Bad When You’re Smiling

The body’s response to smiling isn’t just psychological. You’re not just boosting your mood, you’re fighting pain when you smile. In experiments, people undergoing an unpleasant procedure report more pain when they’re frowning than when they have a neutral expression. And what better way to keep yourself from frowning than by smiling, instead?

But smiling can also have a positive effect on your pain. When you smile, your brain perceives the expression and releases endorphins. Endorphins are your body’s feel-good chemicals. Not only do these contribute to your runner’s high: they can relieve your pain.

What If You Feel Bad about Your Smile?

Of course, this advice is all well and good, but it doesn’t help if you’re feeling so self-conscious about your smile that you don’t want to show it on the race course or anywhere else. Maybe you’ve never felt comfortable showing your smile. Or maybe it’s just since you got your last race picture that you noticed the wear, discoloration, or crookedness of your teeth.

In these cases, it can be very hard to get yourself to smile, whether you’re running or just hanging around with friends.

If you’re finding it hard to share your smile in public, we can help. Please call (314) 678-7876 (Downtown St. Louis) or (314) 678-7876 (Clayton) today for an appointment with cosmetic dentist Dr. Chris Hill at City Smiles at either our downtown St. Louis or Clayton Office.