I’ve been running since my freshman year of high school… higher mileage here, lower mileage there, but always getting in miles. As I have grown and developed into the woman that I am, running (and my family) have been the only consistent support sources through life’s unpredictable twists and turns. I won’t go into the nitty-gritty, but, bottom-line, when I am overwhelmingly stressed out, the time I spend running helps me feel prepared to take life by the reins.
Running helped me prepare for the responsibilities that come with growing up, but, like most runners, I never prepared for how to deal if it was taken away for an extended period of time. Running is a part of my identity, and having that part of you taken away can create an awful early, mid, or late life crisis. Well, I am now coming back from three months off from running, and here’s how I learned to cope, and remember this truth: I am great with or without running.
I know that I sound like I’m trying to be your therapist, but taking time to do small things for my mental health truly helped the time go by in a constructive way. My self-care consisted of adopting a dog and working on my artistic side (coloring books are amazing). Everyone’s self-care is different, but really take the time to figure out what works for you.
Whether it’s cross training, walking your dog, or hiking with friends, staying active and getting out of the house helps to keep the no-running depression away. The first week I took off, I embraced my inner lazy-person, but soon realized that it led to a serious lack of motivation. Don’t be like me. Keep your active lifestyle alive!
The past three months have given me so much more time to devote to important relationships. Instead of spending most of my free-time running, I have made plans with friends that I don’t normally get to see. Not only has this given me the chance to strengthen these relationships, but has also reminded me that I am awesome with or without running, and that I will always be supported by loved ones.
Discover a new hobby.
My new hobby happens to be my dog, but your new passion could be the latest and greatest video game, learning to be the world’s best baker, or learning how to bike (that’s a hard one, I speak from experience)! Developing a passion for something other than running helps to remind me that running doesn’t define me, it just adds joy to my life.
These are my own personal coping strategies, so maybe they won’t work for you. But when I reached the tipping point of stress from time off, these four strategies helped me stay afloat. Giving your body a rest can be hard, but it will be better for you in the (I’m sorry, but…) long run. Good luck, and happy time off!
Sierra balances an overflowing schedule of work, college, and running, and can relate to any 20-something who’s trying to figure out life. Her running is her kind of self-care – and also the small amount of time that she gets to spend with herself every day, coming before all else (except her dog, Butters).