Sanity Check

Over the holidays, I noticed a significant increase in my anxiety level. As in, unable to sleep, racing thoughts, and PMS worthy outbursts, type of anxiety level. I thought it was the traveling, or the kids, or the fact that I was sleeping on the most uncomfortable bed known to spoiled first world residents. I turned it over and over in my mind, and I soon realized it was because I was on a self-imposed running hiatus. Well, that’s not entirely true. First, I tried to blame it on my husband, then I realized it was the running, or lack thereof, that was doing my head in.

When I started running, it was purely a vanity effort. I wanted to look decent in a bikini, and after three kids that was not going to happen on it’s own. I ran consistently for a year, then started training for a race. If you want to know the meaning of the word anxiety, sign up to run a stupidly long race when the greatest distance you’ve ever run is five miles. Anxiety reduction was certainly not a part of the equation during those five months of training. My husband still gets that deer in the headlights look every time I tell him I’m considering signing up for another one. I tell him time will heal the wound of my temporary insanity that year, but he’s never quite convinced. In light of that, it wasn’t until I’d been running for a few years, that I realized the mental health benefits of a nice long run.

Don’t get me wrong, if I could look good in a swimsuit and stay sane while sitting on the sofa eating chocolates, I would definitely go that route. Most mornings, I look at my running shoes and I sigh. Then I lace up anyway. When I began to run regularly, it was difficult to stop putting my thoughts on an endless loop of repeat, the most prevalent one being ‘When will this be over?’ But I kept at it, and now I find that I get into a zone where I’m able to shake my mind free of most of the excess and simply be in the moment. There are still times when the moment sucks or hurts or feels endless. But, the other times? The ones that feel like flying and like freedom? They are worth every ugly one times a thousand.

After a three week break, I’ve started running again, and I can feel the difference. I am sleeping better, feeling stronger, and taking anxiety out for a beating on the pavement. I’ve even decided to sign up for another race. Let the sanity begin.