Mental Health

Running and Mental Health

Compulsive Exercise: Not Only an Athlete’s Problem | Libero Magazine
I felt this instant rush of adrenaline, and while running outside I felt an incredible sense of freedom. I was hooked.

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Hard as I tried I was never an athlete. Active as a child, yes, but beyond the innocent years I failed to fall in love with playing sports, being active, or exercising. My mom was one to always have a treadmill in the house but I could never seem to get the hang of running. My legs hurt, I felt nauseated, and my asthma flared. I was convinced it was not for me.

In my mid-twenties I finally joined the gym at the begging of a coworker.

I easily fell in love with weightlifting, but cardio and I went together like oil and water. I stuck to the elliptical because it required far less effort and I bored quickly. I knew I needed to step up my game. I decided to try walking.

I took it slowly, utilizing treadmills and taking leisurely strolls outside when the weather was nice. Before I knew it summertime had come, and again I found myself needing more. So I picked up my pace and began running.

I felt this instant rush of adrenaline, and while running outside I felt an incredible sense of freedom. I was hooked.

Being able to go at my own pace in nearly any setting I chose was new and exciting.

It didn’t take long before running became more than exercise or sport. It became a tool for coping. It became an outlet. It was my alone time. It was my thinking time. It was my happy time.

It was a way for me to pound through the demons racing through my head. Any problem I was facing or any sort of situation in which I found myself could be worked through step-by-step with one foot in front of the other.

The great thing I realized when starting out is it wasn’t all about speed. Running isn’t only a competitive sport.

Running Toward Freedom | Libero

Picking up the pace while hammering through a tough decision or overwhelming emotion added to the release I felt. Once I had run my heart, and breath, out, I was able to throw up my hands in victory as if I had just crossed a finish line. I felt like I had broken through a wall. Running brought me one step closer to clarity.

I had found a way to utilize running as a means of self-help.

If there had been an argument in my house, if I was upset about my job, if someone bailed on me, I laced up, and I ran. Over time it became second nature to me. Not only did I want to run because I enjoyed it, my emotional wellbeing had started to rely on it.

Instinctively, I turned to running instead of self-destructive behavior because I knew the rewarding feeling after a run far outweighed drowning my sorrows in any form of self-harm. I could go home wobbly legged, out of breath, and with a clear mind, ready to face whatever lay in front of me.

After a few years and some intermittent time off, running is still my go-to therapy.

It doesn’t matter how far or how fast I go, how frequently I do it, or even where. All that matters is that I get back out there and let the pavement guide me through the grooves and bumps in my life.

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Kristin is holistic health and lifestyle coach, having graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She is also a New Jersey based certified personal trainer and focuses on training clients with her body positive attitude. After dealing for many years with depression and disordered eating and then falling into anorexia and bulimia, she hopes to educate other women about the importance of self acceptance and treating their bodies well from the inside out. Kristin hopes to eventually work with children and adolescents, teaching them the importance of health and fitness. In her spare time she enjoys weight lifting, running, playing with her niece, meditating, reading, and drinking lots of coffee. She is simply grateful to have found recovery and been afforded the little pleasures in life.


SITE DISCLAIMER: The opinions and information shared in this article or any other Content on our site may not represent that of Libero Network Society. We hold no liability for any harm that may incur from reading content on our site. Please always consult your own medical professionals before making any changes to your medication, activities, or recovery process. Libero does not provide emergency support. If you are in crisis, please call 1-800-784-2433 or another helpline or 911.