Sponsored by Modell’s Sporting Goods

Runners love to boast about all the reasons why running is so great?—?but they’re actually right. Not only is pounding the pavement great for physical strength, but it can also be a productive mental escape. Throw your laundry in the dryer before you go on a jog and you’re instantly a multitasking master. Not only are you squeezing in a stress-relieving workout, but you’re getting your life organized to boot.

Another perk: running is the ultimate version of me-time. It’s a devoted period of time when you can’t check your work e-mail or be badgered by a hungry toddler. Literally everyone who has ever dreaded Monday morning knows how necessary that time is. So, tap into the me-time mindset to make the best of your evening run (because yes, that’s the best time to go, if you have the choice).

1. Focus on mental health

Mental health is running’s most touted benefits?—?and for good reason. Running increases a myriad of feel-good chemicals like norepinephrine, which moderates your brain’s response to stress, endorphins?—?the “happy chemicals”?—?and dopamine, the reward chemical responsible for runner’s high.

Running is also a self-confidence booster since you should rightly feel like a total badass?—?even if you can only make it out for 10 minutes.

2. Focus on planning

The repetitive movements from a long run can help with organizational thinking such as mentally going over all your to-do lists. Runners are bound to be more productive and more creative for hours after their run, which is great for problem solving and tackling overwhelming checklists.

3. Focus on mindfulness

For some, the best part of a run is being completely alone. It’s a time to take a break from stressful thoughts, tasks and chatty people. Some even opt for a no music, no talking run so they can focus. Running is a great way to practice mindfulness in your everyday life. Become aware of your breathing, movements and the way your body feels as your run progresses. While it can be a challenge, if you can keep your mind clear from pesky thoughts, you’ll feel mentally refreshed and energized to take on the rest of your day.

4. Focus on nature

Not only is running outside more visually stimulating than jogging in place on a treadmill, it also allows you to reap the benefits from the great outdoors?—?fresh air and vitamin D from the sun can do wonders for your body. Also, many runners find the outdoors extremely relaxing because they’re more focused on chirping birds and scampering squirrels than the pile of work sitting on their desk.

Start truly embracing your run as time for yourself to concentrate on mental health, plan out your busy weekend, practice mindfulness or simply enjoy the sunshine.