Running & Anxiety

This week is mental health awareness week, and think it is such an important message to share that it’s OK not to be OK. Mental health issues, whatever they may be, aren’t something you should keep bottled up. You shouldn’t have to face them alone. And you are NOT alone.

Running and anxiety

Back in October I shared a post about Why I Run for World Mental Health Day, and the reasons why I run haven’t changed.

When things got tough during the Boston Marathon, I thought of Vic and how proud he would be of me. I thought of how proud I was of myself to continue fighting.

Because sometimes, that’s what dealing with anxiety is like (for me, anyway).

Fighting.

Fighting not to listen to the voice that says you’re not good enough, that second guesses everything you do or say. Fighting to ignore the gurgle of anxiety in my stomach.

We’ve been taught to ‘look on the bright side’, that ‘worse things happen at sea’ – and every other cliched saying out there. However, sometimes it’s OK not to put a smile on your face and pretend everything is OK.

And that’s when I run.

The early morning, dark runs when I would rather be in bed are the runs I need most. They help clear my head, get the endorphins going when the days are darkest.

Running and anxiety

However, sometimes running or the thought of running exacerbates my anxiety. Stressing over races, over hitting paces, over sharing my failures online. I’ve actually put a pause on my coaching at the moment -partly financially motivated, partly because I wanted one less person to feel like I’m letting down if I don’t run- other than myself!

Someone I’m close to recently told me that he had been suffering with depression for a year…I didn’t know because mostly we don’t talk about these things. But we should. It can be hard enough to say them out loud, let alone to other people.

As soon as I admitted to myself and Mary, my coach, that running was making me anxious, that the coaching was making me anxious… and I stopped it, I immediately felt lighter. It was one less thing that I HAD to do, and running should always be something I GET to do, not HAVE to.

Running makes me happy. It challenges me. It gives me breathing space. It gets me outside when all I want to do is stay under the covers. It gives me the endorphins that I crave…

Running and anxiety

Have you read my post for Women’s Running on #WhatifIRunWithYou and what I find it like living with anxiety? 

 

Do you find running helps your mental health? Does it ever hinder it? 

 

Photos by Anna Jackson

11 Comments

  1. Marc Baker
    11th May 2017 / 9:01 pm

    Thank you Charlie. I’m still finding my ‘voice’ when it comes to writing about my mental health but reading eloquent, brave posts like yours remind of how important it is to try.

  2. 11th May 2017 / 10:14 pm

    I love this and your honesty. When running becomes a chore: that is when we need a break most. Stepping away until the itch comes back is one of the best things we do as athletes. Proud of you, Charlie.

  3. 12th May 2017 / 10:37 am

    Such a good topic to be sharing awareness of!
    I also find the runs I don’t want to do are the ones I need the most, there’s something about getting out in the fresh air and just running that’s so cleansing.
    Thanks for sharing!

    Coffee & Avocados

  4. 12th May 2017 / 11:38 am

    Thank you for sharing this Charlie, it is so honest and brave. The feelings you’re describing really resonate with me, and are really similar to how I felt about both blogging and to a degree running last year. It’s so important to remember it’s ok not to be ok, especially in a culture that advocates a ‘stiff upper lip’ and will use ‘tough love’ to push you there. We all have feelings, and all feelings are equal, we need to acknowledge them to remain well and, in the long run, happy.

    Stay strong xx

  5. 12th May 2017 / 12:46 pm

    Running is the perfect way to reconnect with your mind and body. I’m also training for a half marathon with SportMe running app which calculates distance, time, pace and calories.

  6. 12th May 2017 / 7:40 pm

    Thank you for sharing! I’ve been dealing with anxiety on and off for years, and I think we only benefit when we are open about our mental health, if only to let other people know they are not alone. It’s not something to be stigmatized. We all have the power to lift others up, and to be lifted up when needed. Such a great reminder 🙂

  7. Victoria Brandon
    12th May 2017 / 8:43 pm

    Well done sharing and keeping going. What a beautiful place to run with all that blossom! Love you.xx

  8. Ruth
    14th May 2017 / 8:12 am

    Great post Charlie. I mainly run and exercise for my mental health & am trying to write about it/share on instagram the ‘mental’ side of it as I marathon train x

  9. 18th May 2017 / 11:47 am

    I suffered a couple of years back, left my job and was in a very dark place. I used running along with weight training to get myself back. I’m pleased to report I am back! 🙂

  10. 19th May 2017 / 10:12 pm

    A couple of times I just haven’t physically felt like running, but my head was so mashed that I knew it’d be worth getting out, and it does help me. A great way to let off some steam!

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