When in Doubt, Go for a Run
“4:00pm and it’s already getting dark out,” I thought to myself as I looked outside the window in my office. In a sudden panic, I sent an email to my boss to say that I’ll be coming in early the next day so I can run before it gets dark. After more thought, I sent him another email saying that I guess I can run at lunch, with a big smiley face. I could sense a head shake from 300 km away in his office. That’s just how important running has been to me. Running has been a big part of keeping my head clear for more than a decade. It’s so important that I spend some part of my weekends scheduling my runs. It’s so important to me that I organize my social engagements around my run schedule.
Today, as I write about mental health, I think about how running has taught me ways to deal with different aspects of life.
So, I’m going to share some of those lessons here, and I hope you like it. If you don’t… then just go for a run; it will make you feel better.
Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable: In life, we are faced with uncomfortable situations and difficult people. Growing in general is the most uncomfortable thing we go through, which, believe it or not, doesn’t stop at the age of 18. We go through so many emotions trying to become ok with those un-wanted situations. The same thing happens every time you start your training for a race, or just running in general. Keeping a steady pace for a long distance, and working to increase your pace as you get shin splints and other awesome injuries, are not comfortable. But you stop for a bit, you don’t let your emotions get the best of you, and you keep going. You keep training. You keep running.
Being in the moment: A lot of people in my circle are amused by my #endofrunpics. Besides the fact that I need a better hashtag, I started taking pictures during my run, mostly because running and breathing allowed me to stay in the moment and notice the beautiful things around me. In life, in general, we tend to live in our heads and we miss out on amazing things. Running helps me to practice that behavior so I’m more aware of the beauty around me.
No effort is a loss: In 2015, I trained for a full marathon. The number of 32 km runs I ran were the most painful runs I’ve ever done. On the day of the marathon, I was feeling amazing. I knew that physically I could do this. However, at the 18-km mark, my knee gave up; I was in pain, and I had to stop. I was sad, but I didn’t think of it a failure or a loss. I was still happy that I tried. I use that lesson when things get tough or when I’m not able to achieve my goals. We might not always get what we want in life. Things change; circumstances change. As long as we have done our best, and we have tried, it’s good. The effort itself is the reward.
Go beyond situational limitations: When I started running around 10 years ago, I used to run only during the summer and indoors during the winter. One winter, I told myself, “What am I afraid of? Let’s go for a run in the snow.” It was tough. I was cold, but it was the best feeling ever. Now, no matter what, I run regardless of the season. I use this lesson every time with change in circumstances and I’ve to adapt. I change my tactics, keep the eye on my end goal, and keep going.
There are times that life wins and I’m not able to go for a run to clear my head. There are days that I just end up running very slow for just a km. But I tell myself that it’s ok, even if the only thing I did that day was put on my shoes and go out for a bit of fresh air.