Running as therapy


cropped-winter-running1.jpgRuntherapy. That is my Twitter handle and user name in a few places on the Internets. And it was a very deliberately chosen name.

As we enter the home stretch of the marathon winter season, running becomes more therapeutic for me. It is why I am so grateful for spring marathon training.

Even though it can get pretty blustery and cold, and at other times soggy-wet and cool, I find running gives me something to look forward to. That little training calendar keeps me committed to remaining active when there are times, emotionally, I’d rather hide away and do nothing. There is also the community that grows around the group I run with.

And yes, there seems to be a very physiological reward to running distance. The neurochemicals released from running, though not as felt as when I started, are obviously there. I will often emotionally lifted after even a six mile workout. Some science even suggests that running spurs the body to create new brain cells. I could always use a few more brain cells. I wear those I have out by thinking too much at times. At the very least, I feel I think clearer after a run and my world is put into a manageable perspective.

For a very long time, before running, I could barely contain my anxiety and winter depression. I did a lot of bad things to distract myself instead. I ate too much, drank too much, and smoked. Now I don’t do two of the three and allow myself a cheat day with one after all the running I do.

Perhaps this adds a little more depth to my love of running. It’s not just a hobby or interest. It is a release.

And perhaps that is why I became so fired up while reading a post on Reddit the other day suggesting that training for a marathon is no big deal, get over yourself, it’s really not life transforming. The audience being spoken to was new runners. I let the author have it in the comments, something I rarely do. No one should consciously crap on someone else’s enthusiasm for something.

Sure, warn of pitfalls, but don’t crush the enthusiasm. And don’t say participating in a particular activity cannot transform a person either. Running has made me a passionate advocate for running, and has saved me from the depths of some of my worst predilections as I claw through deep winter doldrums.

Sometimes the only way we really do survive, adapt, and change is by doing.

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