Running to Relax: Finding Peace in Every Stride

I am someone who gets overwhelmed easily. 

Sometimes life throws things at you that you aren’t prepared for and it can be difficult to feel in control of life when the unexpected comes up. Sometimes life puts you in familiar situations you’re not comfortable with, and you get bogged down with the feelings you felt the first time you were in this position. 

Sometimes it’s a feeling at the pit of your stomach that you can’t shake but also can’t really explain. It’s something that can make it difficult to focus on the positive, takes you out of your daily routine, and keeps you on edge. Whenever these feelings come up for me, I find it difficult to let them go, disconnect from them, and relax. 

I am thankful that I have now identified this feeling as anxiety, and acknowledge that it is a continual work in progress to work through these feelings in a healthy way. One of the ways I’ve learned to accept and work through these feelings is by making the time to go for a run. 

Trying to rationalize going for a run when you have what feels like a million things to do can be tough. I know that I’ve felt like it was selfish to prioritize myself when it feels like you need to be around to help everyone around you. But I’ve come to realize that I need to make time to prioritize my needs, and if that means going out for a run to clear my mind then that is what I am going to do. 

Running to relax gives me a sense of control in what feels like uncertain times. 

It’s when I manage to put on my running shoes and put in the steps for the first kilometer that I feel like all the things taking up space and buzzing around my mind are a little bit quieter because I am focusing on the music I’m listening to, or hearing my feet hitting the pavement. 

I have found that it also helps to run without the use of a watch or an app to track my run when I feel this way. I give myself permission to just do my best, and when I’m feeling down I don’t want to judge myself by comparing my run to when I was in a different, more positive headspace. 

Running offers a sense of peace to a lot of runners for the same exact reason as it does for me: it clears the mind. And there’s science to back-up this claim.

Running has been proven to reduce feelings of anxiety. Running can reduce stress by lowering cortisol – a stress hormone that plays a significant role in creating fight-or-flight feelings. Reduced cortisol improves muscle repair, metabolism, and reduces inflammation. Running can also result in the chemical release of endorphins which aid in minimizing pain and discomfort, which can result in an improved mood and mask those uncomfortable feelings even after you’ve gone out for a run. 

Finding Peace in Every Stride

I am thankful that simply going for a run has consistently proven to improve my focus, limit my feelings of anxiety, and remind me of the importance of addressing my emotions and putting myself first.