I’ll level with you; some days it’s impossible for me to get out there and run. Not out of laziness. Not out of physical limitation. I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression for a few years, and some days I just don’t have the ability to move. My motivation is at an absolute zero.
What I have learned, however, is how to push through this. I try and give myself as many reasons as possible to do my run. “You already drank your pre-workout.” “You have exactly X number of weekends left to train.” “Your cats are totally judging you.”
Essentially, I do whatever I can to trap myself into running. And you know what? By the end of the run, I feel leaps and bounds better. Fresh air, sunlight, the runner’s high… All of these things help me get back into gear. Does that mean I’m entirely out of my funk? No. Depression is a bit more complicated than that. But I’ve set myself up to start to pull out of it. I’ve accomplished something. I ran. I got up, got dressed, and ran. And then I’m going to throw myself into the shower, and I’m going to have that clean feeling like I’ve reset myself.
Some of my hardest runs have been ones where I don’t have to go far, but I struggle just getting myself to do it. Along with mental health issues, I also suffer from chronic migraines (which I realize are likely related). The number of times I got up ready to do my run and a migraine suddenly hits, I can’t even count. Nevertheless, I persisted. I popped some Excedrin, chugged some water, and started running. This usually ends one of two ways: a) the running helps cycle through the medication a lot faster and the migraine is gone by the time I’m done or b) I puke on the side of the road.
So, you may be wondering why I’m discussing this at all. First, I find it’s a topic people rarely choose to speak about. I want those who are struggling to know that they’re not alone. I also want those struggling to know that you’re not failing because you couldn’t manage to push yourself to get out there. It’s a process, and it takes more energy than a lot of people realize. And that’s ok.
Personally, I’ve found running to be therapeutic. It’s my time to myself that I can get out of my head and just focus on my breathing, my form, my pace, my music. It forces you to stay in the moment, which can be a very good thing. And it helps to run off that anxious energy that can sometimes hit before a panic attack, thus preventing it from happening.
Nevertheless, you will persist.