Mental Health Benefits Of Running Regularly As Your Key Exercise.
I’ve decided to post this tonight as running for me is much more about the mental element than anything physical.
- Anger management – I’m much less angry these days. I did my final run for the Belfast Marathon 2013 today and it was a great one. I even slowed down to give a lost driver directions. I still get angry and really fucked off but I can get through those feelings by just running and burning off my empty hatred.
- Overall improved mood – My highs are much higher and my lows are less drastic. I find myself smiling much more these days. I never really get to the point where I feel like I’m in crisis which is excellent.
- Better perspective on life – I don’t really care as much about a career and making my mark on the world. It just seems pointless. I spent all winter staring into a black starry sky and felt lost within it all. Staring out at the night sky is much the same as looking inwardly at yourself. You look at galaxies and at the centre of every one of them is a black hole that threatens their very being. As humans we’ve the same design. We try to fill our own personal black holes with politics, religion, sport or anything that will try to plug a gap that can never be filled. You run on a starry night and look up and you recognise some element of yourself but you can’t describe it as you can’t find the words.
- Hope for the future – Whilst I’m still running I know that I have a brighter future where I’ll struggle less with my weight. Previously I’d assumed that I would be faced with yo-yo dieting for the rest of my life. Now I know it’s under control whilst I remain sensible. I don’t have to run hard and I don’t have to give up the foods I love. I just have to move more. And I’ll move more whilst I continue to enjoy running!
- Clarity of mind – When I run everything seems to click. As a programmer I often run into problems that I can’t fix during the work day. I’ll then go out for a run the next morning and suddenly the answer will come to me on the run. I can concentrate easier than before as well. When you’re running you have the choice of either concentrating or going insane. I try to concentrate and it’s certainly helped my focus!
- Conquer addiction and bad habits – Whilst I still drink at the weekends and on holiday, I never drink to the point where I’m endangering myself anymore. Running comes before alcohol. I was close to giving up on running forever after the Belfast Marathon 2011 after getting lost in a bad cycle of weekend binges and depression. I hit the point where I knew I had to keep running and moderate my intake or go completely fucking insane. Thankfully I chose the former option!
- Greater sense of freedom – When I was 280lbs I felt like I was trapped within my body and that if I went out walking around town I could sense that I was constrained by my slow body. Nowadays I feel free. If I’m late for work I can just run and not be late. If I’m on on holiday I can see so much of the town by just going on a morning run around the resort. It saves me having to pay for a tour bus!
- More friends, less sense of isolation – Through joining the running community, I’ve met many like-minded individuals who started running for similar reasons to myself. It’s great knowing that I’m not alone and that there are so many others out there like me.
- Greater independence – Travelling to races all across the UK and Europe has given me the confidence to travel and survive on my own. Running solo each morning too has proven to me that I don’t really need anyone apart from myself to thrive.
- I have more to look forward to in life – Regardless of where you are in your life now with your running you have the potential to improve immeasurably and dwarf your ambitions. You’ve just gotta keep cutting through the mundane shit and enjoy it all as it passes.