Need a Little Perspective? Get Out of Your Head and Get Running.

I’m a big believer that our worst days have a funny way of fueling our best workouts. It’s the days that I’m overwhelmed, or confused, or angry or upset that usually lead to the runs that simply fly by in what seems like a matter of minutes, rather than the six or seven miles of pavement (okay, treadmill … it’s January, give me a break) they actually are.

Last night, I was lucky to have one of those “wow, that was quick” kind of runs. I wasn’t sure what my workout plan would be, given than the January rush has started to make it a little more difficult than usual to plan my workout for the day without actually taking a lay of the land, if you will. I figured since there were a couple treadmills open – and I was wearing running-appropriate pants (it’s all about the waistband) – it would be a good opportunity to get one of my two runs for the week in while I still could.  And it just felt like one of those days that if I could run – turn my head off for a while, get lost in the music and the rhythm of my breathing – I’d be better off.

Perhaps I should back up a bit. I have a tendency toward overthinking what should be little things (assuming they are anything at all) and letting them affect me.  Admittedly, I’ve been in my head a little too much the last few days. Focusing a little too much on the unknown, the don’t haves, the where did I go off track and why can’t I fix its. It’s one of my flaws – I blame it at least in part on my perfectionism complex (and our always-on, look at me, social media culture to an extent, as well … and maybe the fact that the big 3-2 is two weeks away). It was a good night to try to clear up some of the gunk overtaking my brain. And I knew that the less I had to fight to do what I needed to do, the better I would feel once I finally walked out the door.

As I always tell my Pilates classes, you have to tune into your body  and do what it wants you to do on any given day. Some days you feel strong, like you can take on the world. Some days you find yourself begging the minutes to pass so you can be put out of your misery (yes, I, too, have these days every once in a while – heck, I had a couple “this is torture” days just two weeks ago). Luckily, I’ve found that the whole “worst days equal best workouts” thing tends to ring true. A cluttered brain is like extra energy, and nothing feels better than the feeling that comes from sweating out those shards of stress, step by step, mile by mile.

I’ll be honest: last night’s run felt GREAT. It allowed my mind to wander, gave me time to focus on my breath, my body and little else (and by “little else” I mean the National Championship pre-show on ESPN). To an extent, I almost feel like it grounded me. It was a reminder of why running, for me, truly is the best medicine – you can’t necessarily run away from your problems or your stressors, but you can run to forget about them for a while, and maybe even to gain a little perspective. 

In my mind, it’s an opportunity for me to do something for me. And there’s nothing better than being able to take a little time out of your busy day to forget about the things you can’t control, and remember who really needs a little love and attention, first and foremost: YOU.