How Running Transformed My Mental Health

Updated: Nov 6, 2021

Learning to Become The Person That I Want to Be

I am by nature a volleyball player so running was never a huge part of my workout regime. As an outside hitter, our training involved quick sprints and more explosive, power-driven drills for conditioning, so long-distance running was not really implemented. To be honest, running long distances was probably my least favorite way to exercise growing up as an athlete. You could even say I abhorred it, and it was always a struggle for me physically but mostly mentally. In grade school, the mile felt like my worst enemy during fitness testing, and I found myself walking for large portions of the run.

If you would have told me 5-7 years ago, that I would be a runner and actually enjoy it, I would have outright laughed at you. Even though I didn’t consider myself to be a runner, I always admired the people that could run those long distances. I admired the women that would get up early in the morning to train for races or even just run for fun. They seemed so disciplined and to have a mental acumen that was just different than your average person. Like, who enjoys running? After graduating college and looking for ways to stay in shape with exercises that I enjoyed, I made the weirdest decision. I wanted to start running. And not only just running. I wanted to train to be a runner that competed in 5ks, 10ks, and even half-marathons. That was a BIG change from my previous disposition to running. Like full 360. I think that mindset came especially after reading one of my favorite books, "The Miracle Equation" by Hal Elrod. Running has transformed my mental health and set me on the path to becoming who I want to be, and I am so excited to share how that journey started.

About a year ago, I had a friend let me borrow “The Miracle Equation." She raved oodles about how this book had been transformational to her outlook as a newly licensed realtor. I am all about personal growth so I thought “why not!” The attitude and mindset shift she got from reading this book intrigued me. As I read Elrod’s book, not only did it change my morning routine and desire to get up each day and conquer it, but there was also a part that stuck out to me so vividly. Elrod started running when he decided to train for an ultramarathon, something that seemed so out of reach for most people especially when he had NO prior experience with this kind of training. I remember when he talked about how he wanted to become the type of person that could complete an ultramarathon. Those people had to be disciplined and mentally tough. They had to work hard and stay focused. This piqued my interest in running suddenly because running has always been a barrier mentally for me. I think when I ran, it was too easy to get down on myself because I am a slower runner or stop because I just didn’t feel like going farther or believe I could make it. Elrod’s statement about “becoming that person” you want to be really stuck with me. If I could run those long distances, who could I become and what more could I conquer by overcoming those mental barriers? I know if I could conquer long-distance running, I would be stronger mentally as a business owner, wife, friend, and overall human being. I know it would make me tougher and would allow me to experience even more in life. I always envied the runners that would get up early and be able to run on vacations and just site see more than others on the trip. They were able to experience the earth’s beauty with their love of running, and that was something I also longed to do. I knew that if I developed habits and the discipline to run, I could experience life on a whole new level.

As soon as I made the decision to start running, I took action. I texted my sister-in-law who is an avid ex-college runner, and I asked her if she would be willing to train with me. She helped me plan out runs, put together achievable goals, and helped give me pointers on my running technique from my posture to my recovery afterward. She is still my running partner and pushes me to reach those goals I have set. She is my biggest cheerleader when I reach a new goal. We all need a Sam in our lives. ;)

We run 2-3 times a week depending on our schedules and other workouts scheduled that week. It’s a fun time to hang out, de-compress, and recharge after some long days. I find that I am mentally refreshed from running each time and my stress levels go down significantly as running is an outlet for me. I also like to use this running time to visualize things going well in life. I envision working with clients and seeing them succeed. I visualize crushing my running goals and completing a race or spending more time with Devin on date nights. I think running allows me to daydream a little about reaching my goals and dreams. It also helps me set my priorities straight and set an intention for each day. Some of you may find that running is a great way to reflect on the day. It helps your mind just process everything that may have happened good or bad that day. This is SO healthy for your overall mental health. I have felt more clarity and energy in my week because of this mental benefit.

Now, you may be thinking, “running is not for me, I’m just not a runner.” I thought this too, but I was willing to give it a try to improve myself mentally. Sure, it has great cardiovascular benefits, and I love a physical challenge, but overcoming mental obstacles was so much more rewarding than any muscle tone or six-pack that consistent running could bring. Running has made me a better me. I encourage you to ask a friend to run with you. Find a killer playlist and just zone out. Start out with small goals. I started with just wanting to run 1-2 miles consistently. I worked up to a 5K and I recently just hit my 10k goal. Now I want to train for a half-marathon, and I know that will be MUCH harder and require a lot more discipline and intention, BUT I am ready to become the person that can overcome those obstacles and achieve that half-marathon goal. Who do you want to become? Get started today and start working towards the better you. Cheers to new running goals and to becoming a better you!

This picture was taken moments after I completed my first ever 10k Run. This was a super proud moment in my life!

PS: Do you struggle with the mental side of running? Maybe you want to get started but just don't know how? Comment below or shoot me an email. I’d love to hear your story and help you in your journey!

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