Tuesday, May 14, 2013

On Running, Pain and Mental Health

I was just asked by one of my Twitter followers why I keep putting my body through the pain that I encounter from running. I guess that was the impetus I needed to get over a little writers block, even though I should be doing race recaps instead. Some writing is better than no writing, I guess! lol!

I replied that I had two simple reasons for continuing to run...

1) Even though I'm slow, I do enjoy running.

2) The activity helps to control (not stop) the massive depressions that I encounter with my bipolar disorder. I'd rather be in pain from running than suicidal again.

OK, so maybe Lance isn't the role model he once was...
but his words still ring true.

But these really aren't the only reasons that I continue to put my body and mind, because there is a definite mind game going on at times, through the rigors of running. I can go into a Tumblr like image heavy posting here...and I still may...since there are so many quotes out there that can apply as to why I push on.

You see, because I didn't enjoy running as a kid or young adult...other than my days in USAF basic training when we ran in formation...I guess I'm making up for lost time. I used to avoid running by almost any means necessary but now if I go too long without running I really miss it and tend to go stir crazy plus a becoming a bit irritable if not impossible to live with due to a drop in my moods. Running literally gives me the opportunity to keep/control my sanity.

At least for the most part...

That being said, I'm almost 49 years old. I don't know how long I'll be able to run. It may be a few months or many decades, but I want to keep going until I can't run anymore for whatever reason. The challenge is to push  myself as far as I can without going over the proverbial edge. I can tell you that the chances of me becoming an ultra runner (greater than 26.2 miles) is highly unlikely, but I will (technically I have) accomplish(ed) the marathon distance. I may try one or two ultras but that's probably going to be it. I do see some duathlons/triathlons in my future for sure though.

I also run to remember those who can't run anymore. Those fellow veterans who have given of themselves, those individuals who have died in horrific terrorist attacks, those whose lives were taken much too early, those whose ability to run was taken away from them. The two races that I plan to do annually for as long as possible, the Oklahoma City Marathon and the Bataan Memorial Death March, are just part of my way to remember those who have gone before me.


Another reason is that I enjoy (usually) a challenge. Having been a non-runner and now being a runner lets me get over hurdles either athletically or mentally that in the past I probably would have simply said, "I can't..." Now I'm willing to try and I'm finding that I enjoy some of these challenges. For instance, I probably never would have tried obstacle course racing. Yes, I totally suck at it but it's fun! I remembered enjoying the obstacle course in basic training but then that was also 30 years before I began running. Thankfully a friend, nearly 30 year my junior, got me wound up to do a Spartan race and even though I'm as slow as some of the mud I've encountered at these races I really do enjoy them along with the cuts, scrapes and bruises that I always get. I'm famously pessimistic, but running has at least cut through some of that pessimism giving me at least an "OK, I'll try it at least once" attitude.


Probably one of the biggest reasons I keep running is for the travel. Since I went on full VA disability back in 2011 the options for travel had dwindled due to a significant lack of income, but with running (and some advance planning) I can still travel, see a few sights and basically get out of the house and out of town before getting depressed. We live in a small town and there's not much to do so it's important for my sanity to get away as much as possible. Everything is almost always done on a strict budget and I do a lot of driving since it's cheaper than air travel in most cases. I love to go to new places and even if the trips may be really short, just to be able to say I've gone somewhere I had never been to before is always a bonus. In the two years since I've been running I've gone back home to California several times, Florida twice, driven to and run in 14 states some of which I had never been to before. I've also made some great friends who I never would have met if I hadn't started running.


I'm sure there are more reasons that I keep running through the aches and pains but these are the ones that come to mind readily. While I can be...well, in truth I am...just a stubborn old broad I'm not totally stupid. I do rest when I need to, I go see the medical professionals if I can't figure out what's wrong myself (yes, that self diagnosing nurse part of me still exists) and I do try allow for healing when I can although we nurses can be our own worst enemies when doing what we know we should do to take care of ourselves. Am I right? lol!

I guess that really the easiest and most comprehensive answer to the original question would be "Because I can." I'll stop running when I have to, but for now I'll keep on chugging along because I can.

No comments:

Post a Comment