Running is physical strength and mental health.
Yesterday, Yvonne Siew of justrunlah.com reached out to ask how running has changed me. My short response followed:
“Running makes me a better wife and mother. To me, running is even more meditative than yoga, and while it is great for developing my physical health, the biggest bonus is probably the mental wellbeing I feel since picking up running again. Anytime I am stressed now, I lace up my running shoes. When I return home an hour later, I am happy, energized and calm.”
Just after that, I went out for my morning run, and took the time to think about that statement some more.
A few months ago, I found myself in a situation where my work-life-health balance had seriously derailed. Working from the home office, with the privilege of having a wonderful nanny for our youngest child, and our older child becoming an increasingly independent teenager, I failed to limit my work hours. The fact that I’m a business owner who is married to an entrepreneur didn’t really help. We’re both workaholics who love what we do and take pride in our work.
The more hours I spent at the computer, the less productive I became, and the more time I felt I needed to make up the next day. The few, short, forced breaks were spent with my family, often nagging and frazzled, stressing through the motions of days that should have been fun outings.
Carving time out for myself meant stealing precious minutes from the children or the business, and spending money (on gyms or classes) while taking time off from earning felt like a double financial loss. What started out as extra effort in a temporary project had suddenly become years of my life.
Then one day, not surprising, I hit the wall. I could not do anything. At all. The easiest work task was too complex. The slightest stress broke me down to tears. I am lucky to have a very supportive husband who held my hand as I admitted defeat, and bowed out of my immediate commitments. If I would ever be productive again, my life would have to change.
As a two child, two income family, withdrawing from either work or family isn’t an option, and there wasn’t anything else that took up my time. I barely slept, didn’t socialise, shop, pamper myself, or volunteer in my kids’ schools. I needed to find a way to bust that stress and get on with it.
Solution: Running! Haha, if only it were that simple. Truth be told, it’s not quite that easy, but running is by far my favourite stress buster, and greatest tool in recovering. Running, and sleeping at night. And healthy meals, and structuring my work hours, and yoga, and turning my iPhone off. Above all, running is the one crutch that got me through the first critical weeks, and helps me instantly de-stress and find balance now.
If you’ve never been a runner, or if you used to run, but gave it up, go out there today and give it a try. All you need is a good pair of shoes. I couldn’t have done it without a C25K podcast or app, so if you’re anything like me that’s a great way to start. There are lots of free ones around. This time I used 10K Runner from Fitness 22, and loved it. Give it a month, and see the effects yourself.