How Stress Turned Me Into A Runner

A lot of people ask me how I became a runner. They probably ask because they know I used to hate running.

It’s true – I used to hate running.

I think it was because it was often used as punishment during my sports team practices. When a game didn’t go well, the next practice usually involved running. Sprints, laps, you name it. And let’s be honest, those cross country kids were just crazy. I huffed and puffed my way through a mile – why on earth would they run 3 miles consistently for fun?!

Yet I secretly was intrigued by those who could just run and run.

Many people don’t know that 1.5 years after Brent and I got married, I ran my first 5K. It was a small, local race. I took my vehicle on the road and mapped out a 3 mile loop. I worked my way up to 3 miles and ran that race. Well, most of it. I don’t even remember what time I finished in – maybe 35 minutes? All I remember is that I ran up a huge hill and passed a few guys in the process. Yep, that was my highlight!

After that race, I tried to run more. My body just didn’t want to go past 3 miles. Or maybe it was my mind interfering. All I know is that it was a chore that I didn’t enjoy.

Then I began a new job. (If any of you have been or are teachers – you know how insane that first year is!) Although I stayed active, running was the furthest thing from my mind. I was consumed by lesson plans, getting the classroom organized, grading papers and who knows what else.

The next year, the stress began to form. And the following year, the stress piled on extremely high. I was having a lot of health issues. I was grouchy all the time. I was exhausted. And did I mention I was in the midst of getting my Masters Degree? I desperately needed a way to relieve my stress.

Enter running.

I had been advised by many people to start running to relieve stress. I didn’t believe them because I had never found that runner’s high. They encouraged me to give it a try. To not worry about the miles. To just run.

I knew that I would need something to keep me going those first few months, so I signed up for a 10K. I figured that was the little extra boost I needed. And you know what? It worked.

I started with run/walk intervals, and slowly started to increase my mileage. It was in the winter, so I ran on the treadmills at the gym. When the weather started to get nicer, I started running outside. I remember my elation the first time I went 4 miles. Then 5 miles. Then 6 miles. I was actually beginning to enjoy running!

Did it relieve my stress? Somewhat. (I think the stressors were so large at my job, that nothing would help until either issues were resolved, or I left the position.) Running did leave me feeling better afterward. I wasn’t thinking about the stress, I was just enjoying the moment. And I even felt that runner’s high.

When people ask my why I run, I tell them I run because I love it. However, there is a much larger story involved. It has, and always will be, a form of stress relief. It is time where I can unwind from the stressors of the day, and just enjoy God’s beauty.

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Yes, the races are fun. Yes, the medals are fantastic. However I would still run if there weren’t races involved. Running is for me. I can run as fast or slow as I want. I can run anywhere. I can let the stress out. It is my time, not anyone else’s.

And that’s why I am a runner.

 

First of all, thank you to all who entered the Sparkly Soul giveaway! I’m so excited that you all love to sparkle as well! I randomly chose the winners, and congratulations to…

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Mindy and Emily – email me your address and we’ll get those sparkly headbands on their way to you!

About Megan

Megan is a runner, author, travelista and dreamer from Michigan. She writes about her running journey on her blog Running Toward the Prize, and is the co-author of Magical Miles: The Runner's Guide to Walt Disney World. You can also follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Comments

  1. What an awesome post! Running is definitely a stress reliever for me too. And yay…I’m a winner!!!! Thanks Megan!!!

  2. Running is my ME time too – and that is a gorgeous snow pic!!!

  3. I initially started running as a means to lose weight early last year, but I quickly learned that it was a stress reliever for me as I was currently a Stay-at-home-mom to 3 very active boys. I now crave my runs and can feel when it has been too long between runs.

    The former me, would NEVER have thought this would happen. :)

    • I LOVE this Deana! I think you definitely need some ‘you’ time with 3 boys! And it’s funny how our lives change, huh? :)

  4. Your comment about running as punishment rings true. I too played sports in high school, but the running was always treated as a punishment rather than actual conditioning. And my school was so small that we never had cross country, so I had no idea what that was all about.

    I didn’t start running until I was 33. I have no regrets that I discovered running so late. In fact, it probably means more to me because of it. I any case, your post was excellent. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you for sharing Jean! I never considered that running was a punishment until I realized how much I didn’t like it! I’m so thankful you discovered running – even at age 33!

  5. I’m glad you found running as a way to handle and manage your stress! It’s such a healthy outlet :)

    I love that you mentioned running as being a punishment for other sports. In high school cross country, we used to say “our sport is your sport’s punishment.” How true it is :)

    • Thanks Alicia! That quote couldn’t be more true about cross country! Funny how I thought they were all crazy, and now would love to join them!

  6. Running is definitely a form of stress relief for me too, except when I start to stress out about missing workouts or runs.

  7. Yay for being a winner!! Thanks!! I watched my mom go through her first year of teaching and she developed several health issues (that are still with her today) from the stress involved. Running has definitely become an outlet for me as well to do with stress.

    • It’s amazing how stressful teaching can be! I hope your mom is dealing with the health issues. And congrats again on winning! :)

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