Why I run
At 8am, just about every Saturday morning, you will find me at parkrun. Every Saturday morning you will find me out for a run (well I’m still working on run-walk intervals). It’s hard work. I’ve run when it’s been 2 degrees celcius outside. I’ve run when it’s been 35 degrees outside. I’ve run in the rain, in the mist. I’ve run on the road, the path, the grass and “cross country”.
I run because running makes me feel strong. It makes me feel fit. When I’ve completed a run, I’m on a high. I had a challenge before me and I tackled it. Most weeks, I dread my run, either the night before or the morning of. That’s not because I don’t love it, that’s because anxiety will always be a monkey on my back. It’s because thinking about it too much is like contemplating the height of the mountain you are about to climb. It seems daunting.
Every Saturday morning, when I choose a run over a sleep in, I win a small battle against my anxiety. Every time I choose to lace up my shoes and get out there, I loosen anxiety’s grip on me. Then, when I’ve conquered my run, it’s like I “power up” in the fight.
Before I even get to the physical benefits of running, I’ve already got enough reasons to get out of bed. But the physical benefits are plenty. There’s increased muscle tone, improved cardio-vascular fitness, extra vitamin D and a boost in metabolism. Running helps me lose weight, or maintain the weight I currently am. But I don’t run to lose weight, that’s just a fringe benefit.
Running also serves another purpose for me. Running calms my overloaded sensory systems. I have sensory processing disorder and that means that some sensory inputs are turned up to eleven, when for most people they are a comfortable “three”. For other people, or other senses, things are dulled and my brain is underresponsive. Running calms all that down. It’s a soothing action.
You think I’m crazy? Running is a repetitive action, it’s natural and your body repeats the same motion over and over, which soothes. Babies suck their thumbs or dummies – a soothing repetitive action. Some adults comfort eat, some smoke, some knit. All are repetitive actions, that don’t require a lot of thought. They soothe and calm our frazzled nerves. So for me, running can be like that relaxing glass of wine at the end of a tough work week, or that massage when you’re tense and stressed.
I am never going to be fast. My goal, at this point, is to run 5km in 30mins. My current personal best is a touch over 38mins, and my normal 5km run is between 38-40mins. I have no plans to run a marathon, or even a half marathon. At this point, my body can’t handle more than one or maybe two runs a week. But I’m getting stronger – physically and mentally.
And I’m going to keep getting stronger.