Running as a Coping Mechanism
I don’t meditate. I run.
Depending on who you talk to, running is controversial. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard “You’ll ruin your knees!”. It’s true (maybe), it’s the highest of high impact, and perhaps not for everyone. For me though, its a habit. One I like. Picked up during our weight loss journey, it’s one I maintain.
Course, in some ways, I’m a wimp about it. I should get my butt outside into the cold, drippity-droppety weather a lot more. I don’t. Most of the year my runs look like this.
Excuse the crappy cell phone pictures. I did not think to haul my SLR to the YMCA.
And if I’m really on my game (as I am about once a week), I follow that up with one of these..
Rinse and repeat, at a slightly slower pace. Nine miles, a hour and ten minutes later, whatever was bugging me, whatever I was so consumed by, it’s been processed. Or at least put away somehow. That’s why when my life gets overwhelming, there is always time for a run. Even as yet another demand on that time, it helps me deal with all the others. When the going gets tough, the tough double knot their laces and head for the door. At least around here they do.
When I bust out my treadmill shots, which sure does save the knees by the way, I am tooting my own horn a bit. Yes, I run fast and I run far. It’s something I am pretty proud of. As I huff and puff my way through miles on ends, its not the innumerable health benefits to a vigourous workout that keep me going. It’s the mental ones I come back for.
Walk First. I have always wanted to run. Desperately wanted to run. I didn’t because every time I tried it was a wholly unpleasant experience. I couldn’t just walk out the door and run a 5k. That was maddening to me. So “learning” to run was a primary goal of my weight loss. And it wasn’t until I resigned myself to walking, for days on end, that I had any success in running. I walked increasingly fast, for long periods of time. But, I walked. I always remember that all these miles at 7:40 (or better), they are all possible, in fact they all started, with just a brisk walk.
Streaming Consciousness. In the midst of a run, I don’t think clearly. It’s not that my mind goes blank. Rather it’s processing everything it a slip-slidey kind of way. I can’t hold on to any one thought for too long. That is a pretty awesome side effect. All those things that seem so important, which I have been so hyper-focused on for however long, they get shuffled back into the general thought pool. They are re-prioritized. I loose basic math functions (how many more miles can I run in 16 minutes?), yet random solutions to problems which have truly stumped me appear out of thin air. Running is like shaking the mental etch-a-sketch. All the thoughts are still there. They’ve just been equalized back at the bottom.
This Too Shall Pass Every time I run, I want to quit. Whether it’s 1 mile or 11 miles, there is always that one moment (sometimes more), where I feel like I can’t do it anymore. My side hurts. I’m gasping for breath. Maybe there is some odd pain in my foot. The perfect excuse to stop presents itself. As soon as I stop I will feel better. I know it. Then I will feel like crap. Because I quit. Have you ever heard the Winston Churchill quote “If you are going through hell, keep going”? Running is my active example of that. If I just keep chugging, the next mile will be different. In eight minutes time I could feel like a million bucks, even if I am currently struggling just to maintain my pace. I have a long history of this, I know in my bones I can keep going. And so I do.
My running was at its best during my whole 2 Jobs 1 Nightmare episode. I don’t think that is a coincidence. I was in survival mode, cut off from much of the world. Yet, I kept running. Even more than I do now. There is an argument to be made that the regular shot of endorphins was keeping me from jumping out open windows. I think it was something about using the physical exertion to process the mental chaos, or at least keep it at bay. In any case, I directly correlate my survival of that time period with the inertia of mile after mile.
Maybe you aren’t a runner. Maybe you weren’t meant to be. Running strikes a cord with me for what ever reason. Maybe you are a meditator. Maybe a cyclist. Maybe you have a love affair with the elliptical. Vigorous exercise in whatever form you chose could fix you up.
Had a crappy day? Something to think over? Run. Walk. Ride. Downward Dog. After a
few miles poses hours whatever time you invest, the world is always a different place.