I’ve been running the C25K (couch-to-5-km) training program for 3 months now and completed it this past week. In the weeks to come, I’m going to be very proud of myself, but at the moment all I can think about is the fact that all my runs going forward should at least be 5km now that I know I can do it. It’s…actually not that motivational.
For many who take up running, they experience something called a runner’s high. I’ve heard that it typically kicks in around the 30, 45 minute mark and it’s euphoric. You get all juiced and feel like you could just run forever. However, having never experienced it, I get choked reading about it. I pretty much hate running. Before. During. After.
Ok, less after.
I’m not quite ready to talk about the last few years and my fight with depression. I’ve read articles and blog posts from both sides (those who know and those who do not understand) and I’m not sure if my story is mature enough to stand up to the scrutiny of the internet. However, I’m ready to admit that I fought it (and am continuing to do little battles) and that I am still standing 2 years later after some of the hardest and darkest moments of my life. While these are the moments I’m not quite willing to share, there are blaring moments of light that helped me stay afloat. It hasn’t been a solo battle. I don’t quite have the words to thank the people who have been there for me during the past few years to help me through this. My friends who told me not to be ashamed. My coworkers who supported my decision to take a year off and work on being well. My art colleagues who encouraged me to live the life and produce the works I’ve always wanted. My doctor who took me seriously and encouraged me to get the help I needed. My family who loved and supported me. My partner who sat beside me no matter what was happening and stood behind me when I couldn’t do it on my own.
Fighting low-mood & anxiety is part of the reason I started running. Cas was the one who dragged me out, knowing that it would help. It’s common for people who are fighting depression to suffer from anxiety and while I know that there are drugs that can help me regulate it, I’m really resistant. I am an advocate for trying to tackle problems on your own before reaching for the crutch, but not to the point where I stubbornly hurt myself. The idea of becoming dependant on drugs was not something I was willing to do until I tested whether or not I could depend on myself first.
730 days later, the little skirmishes I fight with anxiety or low-mood seems like a game of tic-tac-toe in comparison. My greatest weapon has been my support network, but my greatest shield has been the running. If I run every 2 or 3 days, I don’t need drugs and I feel like a healthy person again. When I skip a run, I can feel a tightness in my chest and the stress starts to build up. When I run, no matter how much I hate it, it helps. It’s the pill I don’t need to take (or buy).
At the start of the c25k program, I told myself that when this was done, I was done with running. It was oddly one of things that kept me going. The light at the end of the tunnel. However, now that I’ve reached the proverbial light source, I don’t really want to go back to the dark. And so, I will continue to lace up and run. And eventually, runner’s high or not, I am hoping to trick my brain into at least liking running.