Let’s Talk About Running
Do yourself a favor after you go read this. Go for a run. Don’t track your distance. Don’t do calculations on how fast you ran. Don’t worry about those stats. Just run. Run for no other purpose than to isolate yourself from the rest of the world. Run so that you can give yourself the chance to metaphorically run from your problems. Just run.
Don’t stagnate yourself. Go run.
I was in a really bad place when I was a freshman and sophomore in college. I felt isolated. I didn’t have many friends. I was really bad at relationships. In less than 12 months I lost my uncle and then my grandfather to cancer between my freshman and sophomore years. I had no idea what to do with myself. I thought about transferring. I wanted to drop out. I wanted to just not be where I was. It was depressing.*
I pretty much stopped doing all the things I liked. I wasn’t involving myself with my fraternity. I stopped working out and gained about 20 pounds of pure unadulterated fat. I just sat in my room staring at the screen waiting for the heat death of the universe. And it wasn’t coming fast enough. Then I decided to change things.**
How I Started Running
I had gotten off the phone with my mom after a pretty therapeutic conversation. We’d talked about how things were at home. Talked about how we missed each other. Joked about getting fat. I mentioned how I wasn’t really lifting weights anymore but hated how my body felt. (BTW my mom used to be a bodybuilder because she’s a badass like that.) She suggested that I go and play some basketball like I had been.
It’d been almost two months since I’d played my beloved sport. And in addition to being pretty sucky at it, I got really winded. I was huffing and puffing like The Little Engine that Absolutely Could Not. I thought to myself “God I need to run more.” And that’s when it hit me. I needed to go for a run. The next day I took my first of many runs. I was slow, ran out of breath, and didn’t go very far. But I felt like the heavens had opened up above me.
From there, running became my primary method of exercise besides basketball. If I wanted to work out, I played ball, ran outside, or ran on the treadmill. I wasn’t about to let myself sink again. Because that’s the thing about life: You have to keep moving. It’s that weird superfluid that acts like a solid until you stop moving. So you have to keep moving, keep running, sprinting like a madman (or madwoman or whatever) and not get held down. Bad metaphor aside, I was literally running away from my problems, but in a healthy way.
Run or fucking sink people.
Just Fucking Run
I was running away from the unhealthy mindset and habits that I’d formed. I was running towards what I wanted to achieve, and who I wanted to be. And man it fucking worked. My junior year and my senior semester of college were 10000x more enjoyable on a day to day basis. I felt less stressed, classes came easier, I was feeling confident. And in the words of Mr. Gump: I was RUN-NING!
I can feel that Gump.
Fast forward to today, and running has become a preferred hobby of mine. I just finished my first race of the season, which was the Holi 5K. (My beard still might have some pink in it.) When I’m out running, I can reach a state of zen while still fighting to achieve something. I can chill while I listen to some Bill Simmons Podcast, rock out to some metal, or skip the earbuds and just fucking run.
That’s the beautiful thing about running. You don’t have to go and get any special equipment. There’s no signup page, no test you gotta do, no purchases you have to make. (Although I do suggest you make sure you’ve got a good set of shoes.) All you need to do is look forward, and get moving.
So if you feel like you’ve gotten stuck, like there is nothing you can do, go out for a run. You aren’t going to be running away from your problems. You’re going to start running towards your goals. So if you’re going to take anything from what I’m trying to tell you, it’s quite simple.
GO FOR A FUCKING RUN
It’s amazing what a good running session can do for you and your mental headspace. You’re there, chugging along thinking “I hate my life, I hate my life, I hate my life, I hate my life, I hate my life.” And you probably are. Legs on fire, heart beating like a double bass drum in One by Metallica, man it sucks.
But then… it stops sucking. (Title of your sex tape.) It might be later on in that run, might be a dozen runs later, or a dozen, dozen runs later. It starts to be therapy. Slapping those miles underneath you. You hit that new wall. A wall you climb over and start running on air.
It’s tempting to quit. Tempting to stop it and just give up. But don’t. Fucking run for your life. Run like it’s the last thing you’ll ever be able to do. Because once you start running, it’s gonna be hard to stop. And you’ll wonder why you’d ever want to stop.
Fun fact, after I wrote this article, I won third place in a local 5K and ran a PR of 24:16. Woot.
*(I was never and have never been diagnosed with depression and in no way am suggesting that I was clinically depressed. However, if you or someone you know is feeling suicidal thoughts please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.)
** Like I said, I was never clinically diagnosed with depression and in no way am saying you can just decide to be happy. It was a process of putting myself in a better position and trying to make healthier decisions for my body and mind.