I signed up for my first half marathon to impress a boy, but in the end I was impressed with myself. In fact, in the three months I needed for the race, I found a completely new tool to cope with my years of fighting fear. When I crossed the finish line, I could not wait to start training again. Every time I click on the "Register" button on another half marathon, I know that I'm doing something for myself and my sanity.
Running is not my cure – everything against fear – I did not do it. I give up my weekly therapy sessions to get the patch instead. But is a tool that I discovered during recovery, and when I sign up for a race, I am responsible for using this tool on a regular basis.
The goal of reaching the race day gives me motivation and clarity.
It turns out that there is evidence to suggest that exercise has a notable impact on brain chemistry – so much so that it can help in the treatment of depression and even prevent it from developing. Studies show that strenuous exercises also block pain signals in the body and trigger a rush of feel-good chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin.
Walking allows me to get to know my thoughts: I look at my runs as an opportunity to start a new inner dialogue – One sounds like: You have this. You are doing a really good job. You are really strong.
If I have completed a training run, that is a success.
Preparing for a race requires a lot of discipline and organization. In the months leading up to a half marathon, the whole thing is much less overwhelming when I focus on smaller goals, such as my weekly runs. Instead of approaching the race as one single event, 13.1 miles (1945.1005 miles) in length, I go to the door five days a week and focus on the task (or foot) to do – Finish this mile, sprint to the end of the road, up this hill – instead of emphasizing the larger end goal.
Of course, I print out a fairly detailed workout schedule, but I also make my own rules. When I have to rest, I rest. Probably more important than discipline, I have learned to feel sorry for myself and my anxiety. On some days rest .
Focusing on my breathing is a form of meditation.
Studies Show That Combining Walking and Meditation Can Contribute to Combating Mood Disorders When I pay attention to what is actually going on in my body, it justifies me at the moment.
While walking, I've learned to listen to my body, but do not panic at the first sign of discomfort. As my heart rate increases, I slow down. When I feel like I lose control of my breath, I slow down. When my mind starts racing faster than my feet, I slow down.
As Sakyong Mipham teaches in his book to run with the spirit of meditation: lessons for the training of body and mind : "When the mind is totally present, relaxed, nimble and sensitive It senses everything, but it's not distracted by anything, it's the feeling of knowing exactly where you are and what you're doing. "
And it makes me feel like I'm controlling my fear.
I do not suggest swapping your antidepressants for running shoes, although I did. I weaned myself under the guidance of a doctor.
"Anxiety has recently experienced depression as the most commonly diagnosed disorder in the US – about 18 percent of Americans have some type of anxiety disorder, from generalized anxiety to PTSD," says Elizabeth Wexler, a licensed clinical social worker in Maryland. Wexler recommends physical activity to do something that you really like to fight it.
Jennifer Bornemann, a Limburg-based clinical social worker, agrees. "I recommend running, cycling, swimming and similar activities as healthy coping mechanisms." Bornemann, who has completed three Ironmans and countless marathons, knows first-hand how helpful it is to be out and in touch with the breath.
In fact Bornemann suffers from a panic disorder and says it helped her register for endurance races by breaking through the challenges of not feeling good enough or "not strong enough". "Physical Activity Helped Me Develop I I always knew I could."
However, if one says that everything is the body says the key. "You need to be in touch with your body and your emotions because exercise can increase some people's anxiety," says Wexler. "It's very individual, and I recommend that people value that they are aware and respect their advantage so as not to trigger any further symptoms."
The icing? The meeting with other runners has allowed me a healthy and supportive social life.
Exercise can also be helpful in breaking some social anxieties, says Bornemann. "Signing up for races can support your goals and encourage you to engage in group activity."
And although three half-marathon runners later became the boy I tried to impress and I parted, I continued to enroll in races and races Spend time training to show for myself – and make new commitments. Many of my own relationships with other runners have become deeper friendships. Sure, we first talked about our favorite races and the preferred cold weather equipment, but these conversations quickly developed into an exchange of relationship problems and venting due to work stress.
Especially a running buddy became one of my biggest supporters. We completed three half marathons side by side. During the races, we encourage each other, giving each other room to breathe, listen and lean on, if we have to. It's pretty much the metaphor for our friendship on and off the sidewalk.
Lexi Weber is a freelance writer and longtime runner – she will begin training for the National Women's Half in February. You can follow her on Instagram and read more about her texts on her website.