Friday, October 14, 2016

The Gift of Running

We all run for different reasons. But I bet if you polled a large group of runners, you'd learn that most of us run for at least one reason besides fitness. I'm fairly sure that most of us recreational runners run for stress relief.

That's why I started this journey over 25 years ago. Running has been the best medicine for me. My type A personality lends itself to feeling overwhelmed. Running has always helped me sort that out. Nine times out of 10, I end a run feeling much better than when I started.

Until I don't.

But there's always something good in every run.



I woke up this morning, exhausted before I even got out of bed. A tough day of work yesterday following a string of tough days, heck, a couple of tough months left me drained. After a cup of coffee and then another cup, I got my youngest son up for school. I made his morning smoothie and prepared myself to go for a run.

Running was the thing I least felt like doing.

What I really wanted to do was to crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head. This isn't a normal feeling for me. After some mental gymnastics, I convinced myself that lacing up my shoes would be the best thing to do. It was a chilly morning, and I pulled on a pair of leggings and a long sleeved shirt with thumbholes. Grabbed my watch and my phone and headed out the door.

The morning chill felt good. There was a very light breeze and my legs felt loose as I headed down the street towards the frontage road along the highway.

The sun was rising above the horizon. I picked up the pace as I ran along with the morning traffic. The cars weren't moving much faster than me.

I noticed that the leaves on the trees that line the streets of my neighborhood were finally changing colors. Some leaves were falling to the ground as I moved along.

I settled into a comfortable pace. I started to think about my week both at work and elsewhere. I have encountered so much negativity lately. I can't shake it off. It's like a poison that is permeating society. Demanding and disrespectful parents in my clinic. The lady at Target who rolled her eyes at me when I asked her to let me finish unloading my cart before she put her stuff on the belt. Donald Trump and his "locker room talk".

As I ran, I didn't want to replay everything bad that had happened this week but the most recent unpleasant incident from last night at work kept coming back to me. I keep asking myself why I can't let these situations roll off my back.

Instead of getting answers to my questions, I started becoming more anxious. I thought about calling my boss. I thought about quitting my job. I started to feel so yucky that I wanted to cut my run short and head home. I also thought about canceling on Becky.

Of course, I didn't do any of those things. I finished my run. My neighbor was walking her dog. We talked about how beautiful the day was. "Don't you love running this time of year?" she asked me.

I do.

Today's run was a gift. Actually, this run gave me several gifts.

While my run didn't erase all the negative emotions I have been feeling, my run helped center me and gave me the power to move forward. I'll go back to work tomorrow. I'll remind myself to just breathe when I'm feeling overwhelmed. I'll project positivity when others are being negative. I'll look for the good and overlook the bad.

And if all else fails, I'll go for a run.

Do you run for stress relief? Ever run and not get that relief you are looking for?

I'm linking up with the DC Trifecta--Courtney, Cynthia, and Mar-- for their final Friday Five link up! This link up has been a gift to so many of us. And yes, I did find 5 gifts that running has given me. Check out that next to last paragraph in the post. Because...I can't think in anything but 5s!









79 comments :

  1. I run for stress relief and to cope with mild depression. Some days the run doesn't do it for me, but it always leaves me feeling like I have a better chance of coping. So, it doesn't always put me in a good mood, but it always brings the low higher - if that makes sense. I'm having a rough fall, so I hear you. I'm actually happy to be done with marathon training as it took too much of the joy out of running for me right now.

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    1. I try not to dwell on life too much on the blog, but like you, things have been tough--actually since we came back from Big Sur and my youngest broke his leg. We've been in a negative cycle since then and this week I finally sort of fell apart. I sure hope things get better for both of us.

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  2. This is such a great portrait of the heart of running...or whatever exercise you choose to do! I also run for stress relief and fitness is an awesome side benefit too, but, you're right, things always feel better after a run. And it's the time when I do my best thinking as well...away from all the distractions of life.

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    1. I agree but man! I would have liked to just run and not think. Anyways, I'm up and dressed for work. Fingers crossed for an uneventful day.

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  3. I run for the gift of running, I think. Not necessarily for stress relief, but for the promise of how I will feel after--awake and alive and yes, slightly tired. But clearer headed and at least, for the moment level headed.

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  4. Or.... you could punch that woman at target in the face??? Ha! Lol totally kidding. Good job getting out there. Think about the amazing sunburst photo you got!

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    1. Oh, I had to hold myself back! It was a tough challenge. What the hell?

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  5. I started running for health reasons and it has ended up being so much more for me. It's my alone time, my meditation, my set up for the day. Deep down I know this so on days when I don't feel like it, I negotiate - start with 10 minutes and if you still don't want to, you can go home. Pretty much I never go home.

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    1. I get that. Actually, that's where the name of my blog came from! LOL!

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  6. I think I'm one of the small handful who don't think of running as stress relief. Granted, like you said, most runs leave me feeling better than when I started, but I don't have that "need" to run off the day. Funny thing about my run yesterday....I didn't feel like heading out. I have been tired this week, and my feet have started feeling a bit "off" (ironically, just after posting about how everything has felt so GOOD...total jinx LOL). But I got up, got dressed, and just did it...once I hit the road, all was well. I had paces/splits to focus on, so there was no time to think about how much better my bed would feel ;-)

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    1. After getting to know you over these past couple of years it seems like not much bothers you. Can you send me some of that?

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  7. I haven't been running that many years (and not during the most stressful periods of my life - divorce, etc.)

    When I run, rather than forget about my problems, I do think about my problems and I have alone time to sort them out. And after I run, I ALWAYS feel better than before.

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    1. I'd rather forget my problems too...sometimes tho, I need the road to be my therapist. And yes, I felt better but not BETTER.

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  8. I started running 25 years ago in college to keep from gaining weight. Over the years as life has gotten more stressful and hectic, it has become a great stress reliever for me. Some days a run will clear my head and help return my focus. There are other days when there aren't enough miles to clear out the negative energy, but I always feel somewhat better after a run. I totally agree about the demanding and disrespectful people these days. I work in rental property management and so many people are just plain rude and hateful.

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    1. Yep, there is always something good to be gained from a run. What is that saying? The only run you regret is the one you didn't do? Or something like that...

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  9. I absolutely run for stress relief. I often say it's the best stress buster I know! I got back on the guided meditation train, too -- that really helps too!

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    1. I tried guided meditation but I just couldn't do it without falling asleep!

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  10. I'm glad your run centered you. It's sounds like you were in a really tough place. I think running can be so many different things for us. That's the cool thing about a run, it can be whatever we NEED it to be on that particular day!

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    1. I'm still in a tough place! But I've got running to get me through.

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  11. I've found some of my best runs come on days where I least expect them and need them the most. Have a great weekend!

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    1. That's true. Maybe I had too many expectations about this run.

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  12. I feel the same way about running. Most of the time, it clears my head and keeps my type A from losing my mind! I like to say I run off my crazy :-)
    Great post!

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  13. I too run for stress relief. Its funny because like Deborah said, sometimes my best runs happen when I least expect them to.

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  14. I thought of you this morning. I am leaving for San Antonio I had a really great run. Favorite restaurant?

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    1. Oh my gosh! It's been years since I've been there! But I'm sure they have a Torchys, so I'd get some tacos!

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  15. Wendy I love this. You are always so thoughtful. THANK YOU for being on the course last weekend - I was so happy to see you :)

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    1. I'm only sad we didn't get to meet up! That is coming...right?

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  16. When I'm stressed or sad, running is usually the last thing I want to do, but if I manage to muster myself up and into my sneaks and get out for a run, I almost always feel better. Running really is magical if you can just get yourself up and at it.

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  17. I don't run for stress relief, per se, but I do think that starting out most of my days with a run helps set me for what's ahead. The other day I was dealing with a lot of stress but by the time I realized I really wanted to go for a run to help with that, it was around 11:30 am and 90 degrees, so nope.

    I swear, I think that a certain jerk who is running for president has made all the rest of the jerks in this country think it's OK to act like him, which is making dealing with the general public harder than ever. That's my theory, anyway.

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    1. It's not just your theory...there are a lot of us in agreement. He will never know the damage he's done.

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  18. Well you know that saying, you never regret the run you take, only the one you don't. I'm sure you felt much better after getting yourself out there. Running is definitely a stress reliever!

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    1. I did, but I didn't feel as good as I wanted!

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  19. Sorry to hear about the negative stuff at work! I run for many reasons and stress relief being one of them. I'm looking forward to running again but I'm taking it easy until my cough goes away.

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    1. You've got some recovery to do! Hang in there!

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  20. Sometimes life piles so much (Stuff) on our shoulders that it seems we cannot bear it. Thank goodness you have a refuge.

    When I have my music, even reduced to just walking I still get lost and I escape with the joy of movement and the beauty of my surroundings.

    You deal with entitlement at the clinic; I often get the same at school. Too many parents feel that because they pay tuition to a parochial school they get to make demands, call the shots, and ignore the rules. Entitlement, the cause of so many problems in our world. I was going to say even more than money but realized there is probably a connection there.

    Quit your job? Your patients would be deprived of so much expertise, love, and care. But then again you could parlay your considerable writing talents into something even bigger than this wonderful blog. You do have a huge gift. When we read, we are by your side emotionally and also we see, feel, touch, hear wherever you are. Your writing is clear and clean, yet often lyrical. Your humor shines both on days of joy and of sadness. It is always , always a pleasure to read. I think I can safely state that we all hold you in our hearts and wish for you some respite from the many sorrows and trials that have been visited upon you these last couple of years.
    From the East Coast, sending love and hope and praying for Peace for you. (Insert heart emoticon here).

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    1. You hit the nail on the head when you said "entitlement". That is exactly what we say about these parents. It's so sad. The lack of respect just floors me.

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  21. I have so many of those days where i just don't want to crawl from under the covers. Running makes me feel better though and I always think i would be on medication if I couldn't have that more intense activity level.

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  22. In the 20 years I've been running I've lost both my parents after lengthy illnesses. I couldn't have kept my sanity without running. I admit there are times when I can't run hard enough to turn off my brain, but running is still a gift.

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    1. That is exactly my point. I couldn't shut it off, but I could move on.

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  23. I started running because it was the only time I could be alone and not have to make a decision. I used to manage a team of 60 people and there was so much drama. I must have made 100 d├ęcisions a day. Running gave me a bubble.

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    1. That's why I like to run alone. I'm with people all day long. It's nice to just be lost in my thoughts.

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  24. Running is definitely a time for me to clear my head and just BE. Thankful for this gift for sure!

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  25. I run for stress relief. I also run to be by myself to do what I want to do, think what I want to think and heck talk to me just me. Myself agrees with me most times too.
    Some runs are not all good and I'm not feeling it but I hardly ever regret a run.

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    1. I don't know that I've ever regretted a run. At least not one that I can recall!

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  26. Great post. I really like how you went against your urge to be in bed because you knew that the run would help you. Often, just getting out of the door is the hardest part. I've noticed that when you run, you usually seem to find a zen like state of relaxation, and that's really awesome. I don't run for stress relief, I run because I like the sense of achievement. That said, if I didn't run, I would be far more stressed!

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    1. I hope I never have a day when I don't get out of bed. I'm grateful for running, just for that!

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  27. LOVE this post. I relate 100% to all the reluctance that you mentioned feeling when faced with a run and all of our daily challenges. The negativity surrounding us these days really is overpowering sometimes. It's hard to fight back. In my head I've called my boss and quit my job a thousand times over! And I've also thought about skipping all of my workouts a million times over! But like you, we all try to do our best to take things in stride and realize that running and life are both gifts. The best gifts known to humankind.

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    1. It has been so bad lately--so overwhelming. I can only hope the negativity passes.

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  28. I run for stress relief all the time...and most of the time, if it doesn't 100% eliminate my stress, it improves it by at least 50%

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  29. Wendy. SO many of your posts directly reflect my feelings. You do such a wonderful job at articulating exactly how I feel. I've also felt icky this week and it's been a little hard to shake. But I ran anyway and ended up feeling pretty well grounded afterward. Thanks for this post. xxoo

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    1. Maybe we can blame the full moon? We're in this together...

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  30. I love your honesty. I run for stress relief too. Well, mainly to bring down the anxiety buzz levels. My life is still a complete shit show when I come back home but I feel... I dunno... more able to deal with it after I run. Something magical happens out there.

    I am going to focus on being more positive. I feel like I've been very dark lately, even through my humour. Yuck.

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    1. I'm trying to be more positive!! Like you, I use my humor to defuse my anxiety. I've been told I'm inappropriate at times...

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    2. I think we share a brain. I'm the Queen of Inappropro. I need to find you on Facebook!

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  31. I run for the very same reasons....so my lack of running lately has taken it's toll on my mental health. My running is 98% mental relief! Hugs to you!!! xo

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  32. Love this. I do run for stress relief more often than not, and even when my runs are hard or I'm not feeling them, I always try to take away something positive from the experience.

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    1. I think I was so surprised that I didn't feel better after that run. What made me feel better was getting up and going. That will have to be enough.

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  33. It is a huge stress reliever in so many ways! Some days the moments pounding the pavement are the best parts!

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  34. I've been really working on keeping work stress in perspective. I'm sure it's harder for you since your work is so personal (I try to remind myself that mine is just business) but a good run can help clear your head and at least press the reset button for a fresh start.

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    1. I have to keep reminding myself not to take these encounters personally. Yes, my job is more personal, but the unpleasantness of people in general isn't limited to just my job.

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  35. I headed over to your blog this morning only to read this post which I saw on FB yesterday.
    I love the way you were able to capture your thoughts and out them into words Wendy. I'm joining you and every other runner in this discussion - I'm running for stress relief and for the good vibes after my run is over!

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    1. It seems that I write my most poignant posts when I'm feeling low--ha! But I'm glad what I wrote struck a chord with so many other runners.

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  36. Running is absolutely a gift! I run for my mental health, it definitely helps me deal with the unpleasantness that life brings. Sending some positive vibes your way!

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    1. I'll take all the positive vibes I can get!

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  37. I have plenty of moments when I don't want to run, but always convince myself to do at least 20 minutes, which turns into 30. If I've had a tough day at work, sometimes all I want to do is sit on the couch with a glass of wine. I still get that glass, but after running and recovering.

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  38. Great post Wendy! Yes, I totally agree...running is so much more than exercise for me. It is often a social hour with a friend or my therapy session. I have taken some time off over the past 6 weeks due to an injury and I have missed it so much!!

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    1. I always miss running when I'm off the road for injury. It's so important to me!

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