Today’s topic for “Take it and Run Thursday” over at the Runner’s Lounge is “Thank goodness for running”. This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart as running plays a very important role in my life. While I love the more physical benefits of running (weight management, healthy body, energy to play with my kids), I run for the mental lift.
Running has always been a mood lifter for me. It can make a bad day good and turn life’s little annoyances into the “small stuff” that I can deal with. Running has helped me keep on an even keel as my body goes through the normal hormone shifts each month.
But it wasn’t until I had my first child that I realized what a huge role running plays for me in my ability to cope with life. After Jones was born, I struggled with all of the new mom issues of lack of sleep, finding time to get anything done, difficulty breastfeeding, deciding whether or not to go back to work, etc. Nothing particularly unique or earth shattering. Except I began to find myself completely unable to cope. I remember sitting on the couch crying, thinking I’d never be able to do anything fun ever again. That there’d never be a time when I could do anything for myself again. Finally, one day after the 5th (6th, 7th?) call from me in tears, my mom suggested I call my doctor about postpartum depression. I obviously wasn’t coping and something needed to change. I called, but they couldn’t fit me in for a few days.
Somewhere, in the recesses of my foggy, depressed, sleep deprived mind, I remembered that I used to enjoy running. Jones cooperated by falling asleep in his carseat and I got on our old self powered Nordic Track treadmill. I was only 6 weeks postpartum and I hadn’t run in a very long time, so I wouldn’t call what I did that day “running”. But it was enough. I won’t claim that the heavens parted and all was well with the world after that 15 minutes of shuffling on the treadmill, but the sun began to peak just the smallest bit out of the clouds. By the day of my appointment, I was actually feeling enough like “me” that I canceled the appointment.
So, I’m thankful that running is my happy pill. It helped me begin the climb out of PPD with my first son and I’m convinced it helped me avoid it with my second. Even now, Beer Geek knows that if he comes home and I’m snapping at the kids or sitting at the table surrounded by candy wrappers (yes, that has happened), that I need to go for a run. It doesn’t have to be long and it doesn’t have to be fast, but it has to happen.