Forest Gump, a true runner!
Stress is a common part of everybody’s life. For some, stress seems to be constant, for others it comes in waves. Everybody handles stress differently. In response to the recent question posted on Daily Challenge I decided to write about my favorite activity to help release and mange stress – running!
I used to hate running. I would try to get into it from time to time, but it never really grabbed a hold of me until a year and a half ago when I started running to condition my cardiovascular system for climbing Longs Peak in Colorado. Longs Peak, is one of Colorado’s most magnificent fourteeners, with beautiful 360 degree views from the top, located inside Rocky Mountain National park.
My initial reason for starting to run was not health reasons, it wasn’t even to relieve stress or get in shape, it was simply to train for climbing, my all-time favorite hobby. I have loved climbing ever since I was a kid, and while it’s a great stress reliever in itself, I don’t do it as frequently as running because of how easy running is. It’s not hard to fit into your day because it doesn’t involve having to drive to a gym; you can simple put on a pair of running shoes and head out the front door.
My training started off as just two miles for 20 minutes, then I gradually built up to where I ran 45 minutes at a time. The furthest I ever ran before climbing Longs Peak was 4 miles. Upon returning from the trip I decided I would try and keep the running thing going. I was sharing my new found activity with a guy I know that runs 5 miles a day. He suggest I stop running around the neighborhood and just go out away from it and go as far as I could before turning around.
Me, running my first race - The Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot in 2009.
One day I decided try this little exercise, and upon returning home I had run just over one hour. After sitting down at the computer I discovered I had run 6 miles. I was shocked. I didn’t think I was ever going to be able to run that far. After posting my accomplishment on Facebook I had a friend suggest I run a half marathon with her and another friend. At first I thought she was crazy, but after researching it I discovered I was on pace to train for the half marathon, and my diet was already consistent with what is recommended to train.
It was at this point I began running on a regular basis. It ended up becoming a major source of stress relief too. Something I never expected. At the time I was working a job I was very unhappy with, I faced a long commute to and from work… needless to say, I would come home at the end of the day completely drained. One would think the best thing to do would be to sit on the couch and relax. Well, that isn’t true at all. Exercise is the best source of stress relief.
Exercise in general releases endorphins, which help relieve pain and create a sense of well-being and relaxation. When the body is stressed a chemical change takes place; if a “fight or flight” action is not taken, the byproducts continue to circulate and can cause illness. Exercise is a perfect way to alleviate the stress. For me, that is running, cycling, and climbing.
Lately though, I have sadly not been able to exercise much. I was in a bike accident back in October, and I’m suffering from bone contusions and a torn meniscus. So, I have to settle for the occasional bike ride, an easy walk, or climbing on easy terrain. This dry spell from running has made me miss it immensely. I long to throw on the running shows after a long productive day at work and let my mind go.
When I first started running it not only helped me relieve work related stress, but it helped me dealing with a break up with the woman who is actually now my wife (you can hear more about that, here). I’ve heard countless stories of how running helped people cope with the loss of loved ones, disease, and just general struggles in life. It amazes me how much running can change your state of mind. But I don’t believe it’s a cure; there is more in life, and things bigger than us that are truly helpful for overcoming problems. But I’m a firm believer in using running to reliever stress, it helps us clear our mind so we are able to deal with the real problem.
So, for anybody that suffers from stress, anxiety, frustration, or is struggling with anything in life, I highly suggest you take up running. It really brings about a lot of relief. It makes your mind clearer, and helps you continue to enjoy life when times are tough. I think that is one of the biggest reasons I miss it. It’s not the health benefits that come from it, but how it makes me feel. Right now, I’m really wishing I could throw everything the doctors said out the window, ignore the pain in my knees and go on a run. I look forward to the day I am able to do that again.
Also, don’t forget about the energy bar special I have going on right now for my project on Kickstarter. Donate $5 or more through Christmas and receive an extra energy bar with your pledge. Retail value on the bars will be around $3, so that is a steal, especially at the $5 giving level. Every little bit helps us launch our 100% organic, all-natural energy bars and seasoned nuts.