Generally I use running training as a means to train for an event or a goal and most of all to keep my fitness levels up, but recently with starting a new full time job and also looking after my very sick nan, I have used my running training as a form of relaxation and therapy. In the past week it has been very tough to make it to my training sessions due to the distance of travel going between the school where I teach and where the track is and now also the hospital. Despite missing some crucial sessions I have found myself finding solitude in training by myself during this stressful period. I did a little bit of research into why Running can be used as a relaxant and a fantastic form of meditation.
One of my favourite bloggers- Dr Nick (http://www.drnicksrunningblog.com/) states in his blog ‘Running is the best form of Medicine’ that “the calming effects of running is amazing and the health benefits are priceless. Endorphins (“endogenous morphine”) are endogenous opioid peptides that function as neurotransmitters and are produced by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus in during exercise. They resemble the opiates in their abilities to produce analgesia and a feeling of well-being. The term implies a pharmacological activity analogous to the activity of the corticosteroid category of biochemicals. The word endorphin means a morphine-like substance originating from within the body.”. This is something I can relate too. Prior to my Sunday morning run around East Ryde, I felt anxious, stressed and could not stop thinking about my Nan in hospital. I was also feeling emotionally and physically tired and lacking motivation. Thankfully I found the motivation to go for a run this morning which proved to be advantageous to my mental wellbeing. During the run I felt at peace, away from the outside world. That is one thing I love about trail running- that feeling you get of escaping the outside world and hearing nothing but the nature which surrounds you. I found the run so calming and relaxing and I felt like my breathing began to stabilise and instead of being short of breath, I gained oxygen and it actually made me feel as If I was more awake. I thought I may feel fatigued but I almost felt the opposite. The best feeling I had was after the hour run, I felt so much more calm and relaxed and I felt positive. It really turned my energy levels around. I also had the energy to hit the gym for a strength session and I felt that compared to my session when I didn’t run two days ago, a lot stronger and I could focus much better as well.
I think if you are going through a traumatic experience, running is fantastic for the mind, body and soul. Some runners like to smash out a hard, intense session when they are stressed but for me it’s more about going for a run and enjoying it and not putting my body through too much pain. Most sessions I do requires a level of pain threshold but for now during this time I am just happy to be running and keeping fit and using it as a relaxant which is most definitely is.
Dr Nick also states in “Running is the Best Medicine” that running has been proven to:
– boost your immune system
– increase the levels of good cholesterol
– increase ling function
– decrease risk of blood clots
– reduce risk of breast cancer in women
– decrease risk of a heart attack
– help to maintain constant weight
– boost confidence
– reduce stress
– eliminate depression
– reduce the risk of stroke
– lower blood pressure
– treats diabetes
– reduce risk of osteoporosis
What many people fail to understand is that running does not have to be hard. Just increasing your heart rate to what is considered an aerobic rate will provide these benefits. Aerobic zones of training can be sustained my many for hours. As an example, this would be a pace where you could carry a full conversation without stopping for a breath. If you can’t breath, your running too hard.
Running by far is the best form of Therapy!