I love running, but I didn’t always want to run nor did I think I could ever complete any running goals I set before me. But we have a relationship that means more than just losing weight or getting fit, so here’s my story.
Like a lot of women and moms, we often hide what’s going on in our heads and in our bodies. For many years after having children and even sometime before I had battled with postpartum depression, depression, and anxiety. All of which I’ve attended therapy, counseling and at one point taken a form of antidepressants.
The life that many people would assume was perfect was merely a mask for what I knew was eating me alive. I would post the perfect pictures only because I wanted to appear to be happy.
I had no energy to get out of bed to do anything beyond what was required to keep myself living and my kids fed and off to school.
Beyond the mental health issues, I knew for a while that a major piece of these issues stemmed from how I felt about my personal appearance. I felt overweight, sluggish, an inability to concentrate and general feelings of unhappiness because of it all.
There were many days when I had no idea how I would move on beyond it but I knew that if real change was going to come then I would be the only one to do it. Not fully sure on how to start out exercising, I went with what I knew and that was to run! I ran cross country and track in middle school so I knew I could easily run a mile (boy was I wrong).
But I was determined to change my life around and after years of starting and stopping from one fad exercise tip to the next, I knew quitting for the sake of my mental health was not an option. I started by walking my neighborhood to the stores, the post office and the parks and my running in the very beginning was more like stop and go walking over an over, but something was way better than nothing, so I kept going.
I would run and walk, run and sprint and then eventually I was running a mile without stopping. Naturally, the weight began to fall off my body since I had coupled the running with eating right and small exercises here and there, but for me, it was much more than any of that.
When I would run I had my playlist ready to go, or an inspirational podcast set up to listen to and I would use that time for ME.
Running allowed me to take the peace that I needed from life and everyone around me to just focus on myself. I had no kids at the bottom of my ankles, no lunches to be packed, no homework or dishes to do and I was simply doing something that solely benefited me.
As a mom, we don’t get these moments too often but I was stealing this time back for myself and I’m grateful that I had that chance to do so.
With running and setting goals, I like to be ambitious. Usually, I will start my first day of the month and say, “I am going to run 30 miles this month”! And whether I do it or not I have the goal and I try my best to get it done.
At the top of 2018, I set a goal of training for a 5k and running my first one in April. So I found one in mid-April of the year and registered, once I put my money down I was like girl you have no damn choice but to run it (I’m not down for paying for things for no damn reason).
So I made a plan for myself, some days I faltered and did nothing but most of the times I pushed through it.
Now race day has come and gone and my goal of getting to the finish line has been demolished, but I’ve got the bug and now I’m registering for lots more this year! I see a marathon in my future (maybe).
Running is therapeutic
Running for me is therapeutic, eases my mind, and makes me feel better after having done it. Not going to lie, some days I really don’t want to get up and go but I’ve discovered that at the end of each run I am relishing in the euphoric feeling that comes from finishing it, from setting a goal and getting to the finish line.
I run to boost my mental health, and to clear my mind of the world around me.
For those 30 minutes or 3 miles, I am just Autumn taking those steps and filling my body with endorphins, the well-known opioid the body produces during certain activities, including exercise.
Researchers are beginning to study this same thing with positive links between running exercises and depression. The links between running and increasing your mood have been studied for a while now and I speak first hand when I can say that it is definitely a mood booster, within the first couple of minutes there’s an enhancement to your mood and you can feel it happening.
No it’s not a magic pill and you won’t go skipping up the street with all your problems solved and the sunshine down your back, but just a small “dose” of running exercise can go a long way.
In this study here from 2012, they summarized that “exercise appears to be an effective treatment for depression, improving depressive symptoms to a comparable extent as pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy. Observational studies suggest that active people are less likely to be depressed”