Running to Escape My Problems Is Only Making Them Worse

Rant 7

Running trailPeople cope with stress all sorts of different ways. My issue? Lately, I feel like I'm coping with it all the time. Instead of focusing on my issues (hello, sleeping problem), I've been running from them ... literally. Three, four, five miles -- sometimes twice a day. I know I know, but isn't that what they say? That working out helps you release stress?

I know, I'm that woman who is bitching about running too much. You're probably rolling your eyes at me. But we need to look at the bigger issue: I can't just run away every time I have a problem. My legs won't last that long. Soon I'll get knee problems. And god, it gets to be really really tiring.

It's hard, though. Here's why:

I feel like running is the only thing that helps me forget, if only for a while. When I run -- I feel like nothing else matters besides the music and my feet hitting the ground. I feel like, if only for the 45 minutes or so, I'm invincible to the outside world. Don't you have a hobby like that? One that completely zones you out?

I think what I need to come to terms with is dealing with it all instead of running away. I shouldn't HAVE to do the stress relieving activity that helps me forget, I should do the things that help me deal and the other things I enjoy. I love to cook -- making and nailing a new recipe is a total high. I like to blog, I love to dance, and if the weather would be beautiful every single day, I would spend my evenings exploring every nook and cranny this city has to offer. I need to de-stress by doing more things I enjoy, things I want to remember.

The issues we all deal with, a lot of them fade over time. For now, the best thing I can do is take a step back, breathe, and think twice before putting my sneakers on.

Do you have one thing you do every time you're stressed out?


Image via climbingcrystal/Flickr

emotional health


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nonmember avatar kaerae

As a runner, I don't think 3 or 4 miles twice a day is too much, unless it's preventing you from getting work done or doing other things you need to be doing, and provided you don't fall into the trap of not eating enough. If you plan on running marathons or half-marathons, you're doing about the right amount of running to be competitive at that. If you haven't tried seeing a therapist and aren't turned off to the idea, you might try that, but otherwise, you may just be a serious runner, not such a bad thing to be! Now go eat! ;)

nonmember avatar April

This sounds super judgy, and I don't know you, so I don't want to come off like that, but all your reasons for running sound like the exact reasons the alcoholics I know give for drinking. They drink to destress or to forget about their problems for a little while and the drinking gets to be more and more often.

It sounds like you are getting to the point where the only way to escape your problems or to destress is to run and you are starting to run more and more. You should probably speak to a professional

nonmember avatar lisakphillips

Oh good god, April. Comparing running to drinking? Now wonder we have an obesity crisis.

Kaela Wheeler

Lisa, it's a valid (and medically recognized) concern. Exercise can be an addictive behavior used to self medicate, just depends on the individual's mental state of being.

nonmember avatar kaerae

@Kayla - I know that some people do exercise to excess, but it is an inherently healthy activity to begin with, which drinking is not. Everybody needs exercise, nobody NEEDS alcohol. Weak analogy.

Coles... Coles_mom

Wish running was my stress reliever.

Serab... Serabelle

I think the problem the writer is trying to get out is using running to cover other issues, but not confronting those issues head on, thus it ends up as a perpetual cycle, run cuz you are stressed, get tired, not fix problem, end right where you started. It is similar to the behavior cycle some addicts have, using to covet pain, not facing that pain, and needing more of that substance to cope. Obviously there are worse things to be addicted to, but if exercise is in fact being used as a crutch, the writer needs to get to the root of the problem, then she can go back to running because she likes it, not because she needs it. Convenient thing about exercise addiction, you don't ever have to give up your addiction 100% as long as you confront the issues causing you to lean on it.

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