Friday, July 3, 2015

Running as Therapy

Way back before I became a runner, I remember listening to runners talk and being completely baffled by them. They said things like "ugh I'm so mad right now, I really need to get out and run" or "I went for a nice 6 mile jog and gained some perspective and now I think I know what decision I'm going to make".

To them, running was therapy. I couldn't understand it. Running was torture. How could anyone think of anything but their lungs exploding or their legs falling off in a long run?

But now it's 5 half marathons and countless 5ks later, and running has become my therapy. When I want to get out some frustration I hit the pavement. When I feel like all I can do is cry, I tie up my laces. When I'm overwhelmed and exhausted, I reach for my running skirt. Sure, running is still hard (and it always will be). My lungs DO feel like they are exploding and my legs DO feel like they will fall off. However, I can appreciate the peace of mind that comes from having no goal besides putting one foot in front of the other until I feel better. I love the boost of confidence that I feel after finishing a particularly hard training run or crossing a finish line. There is something about running that clears my head and helps me see the light at the end of the tunnel. Running is my sanity and I'm not sure how I ever got along without it.

 It's not even just my own therapy; It's my couple's counseling.

Post Workout flirting.... and forced selfies
Recently, my husband and I went through some hard times. Having a child before you are emotionally prepared is a really hard thing, and we both dealt with it in not very healthy ways. We both made her (and our extended families' wishes to see her) our sole priority in life so that every day felt like a twisted game of Tetris: fitting together the pieces of her busy schedule and demands,never bothering to put any pieces in for us.  We never made ourselves, or our marriage, a priority. My self esteem suffered greatly and his happiness did too. It caused a lot of tension between the two of us to the point where we weren't always sure we would make it.

The one light spot in some very hard days was running. We both fell in love while running together, and it's absolutely fitting that running brought us back together again.

We both gave up on running during my pregnancy. I wasn't allowed to at times (my asthma couldn't be pushed that hard with baby on board) and it just wasn't a priority. After she arrived on the scene, I would try to run off and on and so would he, but the motivation to get started again and to find out how to fit in one more thing to our busy lives wasn't there. Finally when Kevin had a health scare about a month ago (he has always had heart problems and they flared up again), we got serious and started to do a mile or more every day. Slowly, running started to fix things.

When we were struggling with anger, resentment, frustration, sadness, or all of the above we took it out on the road. Slowly running is giving me back my sense of self worth and the desire to make myself a priority again. I can visibly tell that running is making my husband feel happy again, and that's all I could hope for. Things are still hard for us at times (did we maybe miss the meeting where they teach you how to perfectly balance the million things on your plate and be good parents too??), but at the end of the day we are happy to have each other and in love.

Finish Line Kisses
 We started out by doing a mile together every night, but realized that it doesn't always work out for us with our busy schedules and our vastly different abilities (I wheeze my way through a 10 min mile and on a really good day, he does half a mile in 2.5 minutes on the regular).  Sometimes it's better to run apart too. So, we do some runs together outside, some apart, some side by side on treadmills. When we run apart we have time to think and always come back to a situation with new perspective and a better attitude. When we run together we usually end up with smiles on our faces and flirting like teenagers again.   No matter how you choose to incorporate running, or having a healthy lifestyle for that matter, into your life, I promise you that it will only make your life richer and happier.

So thanks running for being the best therapist I could ever hope for. You have truly saved me more than once.

Glow Run Romance