I drank a cup of coffee, ate a small bowl of cereal, threw on my electric blue running shoes and quietly closed the front door -- I’m fortunate enough to be healthy right now, I thought with the road to myself on a morning in April 2020. Thoughts come and go while I'm running; but the idea to write this stuck -- I wanted everyone to know how running can help with their mental health or anxiety.
I’m not saying sign up to a marathon tomorrow, or go run your heart out after you finish work, but I am saying running has made me a healthier and more focused person. I run -- A lot. I’d even say I’m an exercise addict. Like a lot of overly stressed people, I seek pleasure in something else. That something for me, is running -- I can’t explain why. The endless pursuit of chasing a faster time, spending enormous amounts of money on a ‘cheap sport’ or simply losing myself in a long run. News, COVID-19, emails and work woes; are all insignificant during the time I’m running. I’ve long known it stabilizes my mood, makes me happier, improves my fitness as well as my concentration at work, but it hasn’t been until recently, have I appreciated how running has also made me successful.
The last few miles of every long-distance race are key. It’s the time you're flat out. Full of pain. Every step is forced and balky. As a runner, your brain is almost numb; it drowns out your screaming internal monologue in favor of focus. A focus hard to achieve at work. I’ve also found the last point three miles of every hard run I do are awful. Despite this, I do it constantly. I strive for perfection, chasing every last second on the track in the pursuit of faster times -- knowing if I do one last mile at a given pace -- I will ace my race next month.
If I treat my work like I do my training, I don’t get overwhelmed. I know what the goal is, and I know it takes small steps each day to get there. Time management is key. I’ve found approaching my days the same way I do training helps. I don’t look at the marathon three months away, I focus on the daily task. Every two-hundred meter repeat is that sentence you couldn’t bring yourself to write, every mile is another document submitted, and every training cycle is a project milestone.
Every aspect of my life, from friendships to my work, is improved by running. Whether it's enduring the pain or tediousness of something you have to go through or the hard work required by a career -- running taught me how.