Yes, running is great. I think I’ve already established that I think running is pretty awesome. But not every run is just for the fun of it. Some runs aren’t for fun, aren’t for training, aren’t for physical health. Some runs juast aren’t for any of those things. Sometimes I have to go for a run to get out of my own head. Now, I know what you are thinking, Nikki, doesn’t running give you a lot of time to think? Isn’t that the opposite of getting out of your head? Well, for me, running works a little bit differently.
Running helps control my anxiety. When my body is physically moving at a consistent rate, that anxious energy that is mixing up my thoughts, is not being burned by my run. This allows my thoughts to work in a manner that is easier to manage. A thought process that is much easier for me to handle. After a few minutes or a couple miles, I stop thinking about how I am running, and completely zone out. Once I am no longer focusing on the technical aspects of how I am running, my mind just wanders. I can think about anything and everything with no certain path or explanation. But the best part is, I can think about one thing at a time, which when the anxiety sets in, can become really hard to do. This is an incredibly freeing feeling. The thoughts are no longer trapped inside the whirlwind in my brain, and I can calm myself down and think things through. The stress of having too much on my mind is subsided and I feel calm.
Now, I know this isn’t how it works for everyone. And sometimes bouncing around can actually make thinking harder for some people. But making this connection between running and a way to work with my anxiety is a real win for my mental health. It also changes how I have to assess my workouts. Not every workout is about going fast or long. And not every workout has to be about getting super fit, or being sore the next day. Some runs just have to be mental health runs. No looking at the stats on the watch, and just letting your body work out whatever it’s struggling through. This means giving yourself wiggle room in your training plans to have a mental health run every once and awhile. A workout where the sole purpose is not the actual run, but the benefit from just moving around a bit.
The difference is hard to figure out and rationalize, but boy oh boy is it necessary for me. And if you struggle with getting out of your head, maybe try heading out for a run? Lacing up your sneakers and jogging around the block might be just what you need to help get your thoughts to belong to you again. Some people like to meditate, some people like to do yoga, I like going for a run.