The other day I read a piece on a blog I frequent. It was about how good running made the writer feel. She was selling working out for mental health, not physical fitness. It is a nice idea if that type of thing works for you, but it does exactly the opposite for me.
I have had an extreme relationship with running over my life. When I was a little girl, my mom did not own a pair of sneakers. She would tell me how funny it was that her first job out of college was a gym teacher because she was the kid who avoided physical fitness like the plague. Then, suddenly, when I was 14, she met a man who loved sports and, what felt like overnight, she was running every day.
My mother’s love of running led to her encouragement of my own participation. I was on the track team in high school all 4 years. I was even on my college team for a few months. I hated it, and on top of that I was not very good. The first AND second year I had terrible shin splints which put me on crutches. I was never able to finish a long distance race without walking, and I was not moving fast. I had chest pain, which I later found out was a heart murmur, not a stitch in my side like I was told. I had no friends on the team, I ran with the coach my senior year.
Mom continued to try and get me to run until she died. For mother’s day, she made me run a race in Central Park with her for years. I was supposed to do the NYC Marathon with her the year of Hurricane Sandy, thank goodness that didn’t happen! Her dying wish was that I run the marathon and scatter her ashes on the path. This is illegal, by the way, and I did not do it.
I quit working out completely a little over a year ago. The only thing keeping me at the gym at all was my fear of getting fat. It had become a miserable experience. In fact, shortly before I quit, I had broken into tears on more than one occasion while working out. I had tried to convince myself that if I found something I liked to do I would be able to continue. How long do you keep trying before you give up? At the point I quit, I had tried on and off for 25 years.
I will not state that I feel better, but I don’t feel worse. I guess that is a win.