I run. The sentence contains a subject and a verb that qualifies it as acceptable by Microsoft and the world. Beyond this however, the words associated with myself and the word “run” illicit mixed reactions at best: microseconds to many seconds of skepticism, suspicion, patronizing, and arrogance. I always speak candidly, therefore if for an uncontrolled microsecond, which my trained eye will catch, you feel superiority over me for running marathons, I will acknowledge the fact you did indeed just judge me. Yet, nobody has the need to judge anybody. We all have our own personal reasons to run. I run for my mental health. It is my escape and my seven previous therapists are extremely thankful for this.
Running, like any other aerobic exercise allows the production and release of endorphins, endogenous opioids, which allows runner’s to experience the “runner’s high” According to an article which I will link to this post, there was a study published in 2008 in “Cerebral Cortex” which reports that endorphins flood the brain during intense periods of physical activity, very specific effects in the fronto-limbic brain areas that are involved in the processing of affective states and the mood. There is ABSOLUTELY no way I am diving into psychiatry, neuroscience, and explaining the limbic system so, this is essentially how the runners high is created and how it processes affective states and mood.
It’s also well known running will increase self- confidence. If you reach a goal that you have previously been unable to attain, it is rewarding, finishing a race ahead of your original pace, or winning. Running will give you inner-strength, self-worth. Personally I could care less. I am in this for one thing: mental stability.
Running improves mental health, or it improves me. There are many nights where I honestly run for my sanity or I am running from my insanity, it is usually a toss-up. Scientifically, the biochemical benefits of running do not originate just from the release of endorphins, but also the production of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. The article I have pulled some of this information was kind enough to refer to what I am about to discuss as “mental health disorders”, but I am going to say it the MENTALLY ILL are linked too lower levels of these neurotransmitters. Depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders need higher levels of neurotransmitters, like running, which running, which causes specific chemical changes in the brain.
I can go back to the article here and quote what running will do for those who choose to run for improving their mental health. But I prefer to tell my story. Occasionally a mood will go up, and my mood will slightly drop, and running may become a challenge. I have coping issues, I occasionally prefer to stay indoors, withdraw, I am cold. I have insomnia, recovering from an eating disorder, and cannot seem to find my place in the employment world, which leaves me angrier than before.
So I run.
I run and run and run.
I need to escape. Tonight I ran five miles and unfortunately I ran like I was being chased from a tangible object instead of what I am battling internally. I will occasionally take off in the middle of an argument like Forrest Gump. I could easily run a half marathon and plan on it in December. I will blog my training plan later this week.
Just run. Run for health, confidence, therapy, sanity.
Does it really matter at the end of the day? Get up, get over the cardio curve, and run.
- Top Ten Tips for Good Mental Health on World Mental Health Day. (compassionatecounsellingblog.wordpress.com)
- How Running Makes Us Happy (wiserunning.com)
- The Mental and Cognitive Benefits of Running (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Brain_lobes_-_medial_surface_with_limbic_lobe.png)