Mental or physical?

Reading a blog post by crazy running girl got me thinking – do I run for mental or physical benefits, or both, does one outweigh the other……. ???

The answer is I don’t know which one takes precedence. I definitely run to feel fitter and healthier (and eat more cake and drink more wine!), but I’m not sure where I’d be mentally without my running. If I’m feeling frustrated, I run. If I’m upset, I run. If I’m happy, I run ! I find running gives me a fantastic physical outlet for emotions I’m experiencing.

This week is taper week before my first half marathon on Sunday 18th October 2015. That means I won’t be running as much. I am actually wondering how I’ll find that….. I ran yesterday as I hadn’t done a long run at the weekend, and covered just over 7 miles. I took the first 5 miles steady, then dropped the dogs off and felt good as I set off on my own. Without looking at my watch to see my pace, I just thought I’d push to what felt comfortable for a mile, after that, I still felt good so pushed for another mile. When I got home and looked at the splits for the run, I’d covered the first 5 miles at roughly 9min/mile pace; the sixth mile at 8:19m/mile and the seventh at 7:51m/mile ! Very pleased with this – hoping that it bodes well for the half.

But what am I going to do for the rest of the week? I plan on going out tomorrow (Wednesday) for a short run, then parkrun on Saturday – but I won’t push, it will just be steady. This doesn’t seem a lot, and I’m hoping by Sunday I’ll be itching to get out there for a good run. I’m already nervous and know that I will be on the morning until I’m actually on the start line. Once I’m running I think I’ll settle down and be fine.

Sewerby parkrun

Sewerby parkrun
These two photo’s are from Sewerby parkrun last Saturday – a beautiful location on a beautiful morning.

But back to why I run – thinking about it, if I couldn’t run, I think it is the mental benefits I’d probably miss first. When life is hard running provides an outlet – I have run and cried many, many times (there are advantages to running early in the morning in the countryside without many other people about!). When life is good, running is fun. When life is hard, running is a way of coping – how fast isn’t important, just getting out there helps. I honestly don’t know where I’d be without it. Running also gives me time to think, to try and process things that are troubling me, to day dream about where I’d like to be and what I’d like to happen. In a world where we seem to be perpetually busy, thinking space is very valuable!

That said, running is slowly becoming more sociable too. When I first started running I always ran alone. I joined in with parkrun a few times prior to doing race for life just so that I’d had experience of running within a crowd. This pattern carried on for quite a long time until the end of last year when I decided to make parkrun a regular thing – I’m so glad I did. I now actively look forward to meeting up with others. I’m even considering joining a club !

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