One of my favorite movies of all time is Legally Blonde. (I’m blonde. Go figure…) One of my sole sisters and I would routinely quote lines from this movie on any given long run, often during moments of sheer runner’s high, and lightening any effort produced by our runs.
One of our favorite lines? You know the one. Elle says it during one of the board room meetings during her internship at the law firm, as they are discussing Brooke Wyndham’s murder case:
“I just don’t think Brooke could have done this. Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands. They just don’t!”Elle Woods
Indeed. In my last post, I did whine a bit about the state of this world. We’re all entitled to whine a bit now and then. I also posed a question. What is the panacea to the doom and gloom? For me, it’s exercise, and, more specifically, running.
In this dawn of new beginnings in a new year, I know there’s lots of societal pressure to lose weight, diet, and exercise. But I’m here to tell you that losing weight shouldn’t be the focus. Instead, think of changing habits to improve your mental state.
Eating healthier reduces inflammation, as most of our most well loved junk food offers nothing real to nourish and repair our bodies. We can do so much for ourselves simply by avoiding drive throughs and eating at home more often.
Exercise burns off steam. And although sometimes training for big races can bring anxiety, especially prior to big distance runs, the energy you burn running these super long distances quells much of that built up anxiety and any other stress you may be feeling in your life.
There was a meme circulating a while ago. It referenced the stress of the pandemic, and that at this point, they would have to run across the country to burn off all of the stress they are experiencing. I can really identify with that! So during my ultra race, that’s essentially what I did. And when I thought I was tired, Mother Nature chose to make it rain. Torrentially. It was at that moment that the bottom fell out of the sky that I realized she had that one last trick to help cleanse my soul of angst. It was cathartic. And it was crazy.
One of my local friends recently reached out to me about running her first half marathon in October. She wanted reassurance that this goal was feasible. Of course, it is! I encouraged her to sign up to train for the Ukrop’s Monument 10k this spring. It’s a great first step! These training teams are like the gateway drug to bigger goals. I’m hoping she will also train with Sports Backers this fall with the half marathon training teams.
Training teams can change your life. Any group exercise can help you stay accountable and motivated. If you are lucky enough to find a running partner (or multiples!), you will be less likely to bail on a run. I am an introvert at heart, but training with others has opened up doors I never thought about. When I started this journey, I never pictured myself as a coach, but now I am. I’m also getting more involved with our local Road Runners club. It’s amazing to give back to a sport that has given so much to me. And I also never imagined evolving into an ultrarunner, either. That seemed like the ultimate crazy. Yet meeting other runners through multiple teams nudged me to push the boundaries of crazy goals just a bit further.
I’m not saying that you have to become an ultramarathoner to transform your life. But maybe, just maybe, running can be a way to heal your soul. Remember: endorphins make you happy. Exercising refills my cup. So even if it’s not running, find some way to burn off some steam. Something that you can control. Because really, before we can help anyone else, we must take care of ourselves. It’s worth it!
What are your favorite, healthy ways to manage stress and anxiety? I’d love to hear about it.
As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.