Is Running Really A Stress Reliever?

You often hear runners talking up that magical “runners high” or, talking about how they need a run to unwind and de-stress from their hectic daily life. What you don’t hear, is that running can be a stressful thing for some. Especially when they run for all the wrong reasons.

On the surface, running looks pretty calm and mild but, all too often, it’s a sea of calamity below. Not all, but many runners are of the narcissistic breed and, they use running as their “I’m so pretty” billboard. This is made even more evident  with the advent of social media.

Running, just like anything else, can become an obsession. A runners entire life and lifestyle can and, often does change, once they become a runner. 9 times out of 10, the results can be positive but, every now and then, the results take a turn toward Crazyville!

I can’t recall ever doing a race and worrying about who is or who isn’t going to be there. Maybe because I’ve been running for a long time but, I’ve just never really given much thought over who is toeing the line. I guess I’ve just never been scared of getting beat or worrying about whether or not I can place. For me, I like the adrenaline of racing and challenging myself and, once the gun goes off, it’s unpredictable and I enjoy that.

On the other hand, there are those who obsess over who is entering the race, what kind of times those others have run recently and, whether or not they measure up to their peers. These runners turn into stalkers and will go out of there way to cherry pick a race they know they can do well in. I know a runner who has run countless marathons and has qualified for Boston every single time, yet, has never ran Boston because they know they won’t make the headlines with all the elites and other fast runners who show up. To me, that’s so bizarre. I’d rather enter a race and get dead last, while getting dragged along to a great time by other top athletes. I mean, after all, these are just Lollipop 5k’s, not the Olympics.

Me personally, I’ve always tried to be as transparent as possible with my training, racing, goals, etc. You want to know how I train, I’ll tell you every detail and you can look at my training log if you want. Want to know what races I plan to do and what are my goal times? Ask me, I’ll tell you.

Though some are more private than others, I also try to get the athletes I coach to be in this mindset as well. Why hide? To me, setting a certain goal and putting it out there, holds you accountable. It gives you something to work hard for. It doesn’t have to provide pressure, unless you let it. If you have a goal and fall short, OH WELL!! Try to find out what went wrong and, move on. After all, it’s just a race and, believe it or not, life goes on. NO FEAR!!

Maybe because I come from a long time running background, I can say “it’s just running” but, for others, especially in the world where anyone and everyone can sign up for a race every single weekend, running becomes an identity. Whether they are on the podium holding up a trophy or, just getting tons of “bling”. For many, it’s not the aspect of the running itself that they enjoy but, the accolades and attention that can be garnered from it.

Some of my PR races are unknown because I ran the race as a “bandit” and or paced someone without actually having a bib. Unlike many, I couldn’t give a shit about my Athlinks account. Imagine this!! I have actually heard runners respond with this answer “Well, I don’t want that to reflect on my Athlinks account”, when asked why they don’t ever pace other runners who are “slower” than them. Are you kidding me??? You are worried about the possibility that a “bad race time” will show up on the internet for all the world to see?? Get real!!!

Growing up as a mid-distance runner, my goal was to always break the 4 minute mile. Clearly, I never got there. However, if the only sub 4 mile I ever ran, was on a dark track in the middle of nowhere, with nobody there to see it….I’d be no less happy than if I ran the same sub 4 in front of thousands of fans and spectators.

I’ve seen runners pull out of races, quit a race, and or make up countless other excuses when they are getting beat or are having a less than perfect race. You have those who consistently have “bad races” and, they blame it on everything under the sun. It was windy, there tummy ached, they had a bad nights sleep, yada, yada, yada!!

I make it a point with all my runners that, to always take responsibility for their races, good or bad. Sometimes, bad races just happen. With that said, if the individual is honest with themselves, they can often pinpoint the reasoning for a bad a race. Sure, a bad race sucks..especially if you don’t really know what happened. But, at the end of the day, it’s just a race.

So, with many of you all getting ready for an upcoming race, keep this in mind. Whether you’re running for a win, a PR, or just for fun, it’s just another day. A race, despite how worked up you get for it, is really just another run with a timer at one end. The results, good or bad, won’t make or break you and, it’s not likely that your future hangs on that ticking timing clock.

As my friend Tommy says all the time, “it’s just running”

Good luck to all those racing this weekend and next!!! Especially to all you #DWEP runners!

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