I Broke Down and Cried on my 10 Mile Run Yesterday

Sometimes runs are necessarily cathartic.

I’d kind of been dreading this run: the first double-digit run of my first ever spring marathon training cycle. I’m used to training for a fall marathon, leading a very organized team of runners with a very prominent non-profit and with lots of support. 

This run was lonely. I was still running as part of a group, however, I was the only one running this far at a slow pace. Such is life. 

I’d felt a bit anxious all week, my body pushing this to the extreme with heart palpitations and chest pain. Yes, I’ve had this before and yes, I’ve been checked out by a cardiologist, including a stress test and an echocardiogram. As many a male doctor has told me throughout my life, I’m just stressed. Sigh.

I’m still on my January run streak and I’m still doing Dry January. I was hoping that my daily running would quell my anxiety since I decided not to imbibe in my anti-anxiety elixir of choice this month. 

As it turns out, I can’t outrun my anxiety or my grief. And so I found myself nearly hyperventilating and sobbing during my third mile yesterday, a bit early in my run for this phenomenon, so it took me by surprise.

My tears were for my father who passed away 2 days after Christmas. Our relationship wasn’t perfect. I’ve harbored resentment for far too long, mourning the dad I wished he could have been for me. I wanted a hero, but he couldn’t be that. 

It’s not his fault. My dad revealed to me so many awful things that happened to him when he was younger, but not until I was well into my 40s. Can you imagine the wound that you would endure if your own mother told you that she wanted to abort you? That she never wanted you? My dad struggled with depression for most of his life, understandably. 

My tears were of reconciliation and forgiveness. My dad, such a gentle soul, who used his experiences to counsel others from avoiding death by suicide, using his pastoral training by serving on a prevention hotline for 25 years. My dad, who tried his best to correct the wrongs in a church that hosted an abusive youth minister. My dad, whose personal relationship with scripture helped him heal from his own bullies in his life, including his mother. 

I had hoped that I could spend more time with him now that I was able. My spare time was often caught up in supporting my husband’s family, with my father-in-law succumbing to end-stage Parkinson’s in October. 

It was an impulse decision to sign up for the Blue Ridge Marathon, which will be my 11th. I’ve done the half a couple of times, but the marathon distance race has been on my bucket list. Running my first marathon in 2014 was a way for me to prove to people who have hurt me in my past that I’m stronger than their abuse. That I’m a survivor. Running a marathon whose course includes climbing 3 mountains sounded like a great way to work through my sorrow at the time I signed up, but may seem a bit crazy now. We’ll see if I can outrun my grief and anxiety after all. 

Grief is such a humbling companion. I’ll run this race for my dad. He deserved a better start in life. He deserved more from me. And now I understand that he couldn’t give me any more than he did. In my conversations with him in the past couple of years, he said he was satisfied with his life and all he accomplished, and I do take comfort in that. 


I’m sure I’ll have many more tearful long runs this spring. Have you ever broken down emotionally on a run? It’s amazing what emotions spill out when your body is pushed to its limits. 

As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy. 

Published by annecreates

I am a physical therapist, wife, mom, runner, artist, and vegan. I'm passionate about helping others find wellness, speaking about the human experience, and in fighting for social justice. Assistant Coach for the Sports Backers Marathon Training Team. Current ambassador for: Boco Gear, SaltStick, SPIbelt, Goodr, Noxgear, and Switch4Good.

4 thoughts on “I Broke Down and Cried on my 10 Mile Run Yesterday

  1. I’ve absolutely had a tearful run. And the way I see it, it happens, because it needs to happen. The emotions are ready to come out, and it’s good to let them. It doesn’t matter what the plan was, because it’s irrelevant. Sometimes, you just have to make room for whatever is coming up. I don’t know that grief ever fully goes away, but processing it does help 💚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So sorry for your loss and I hope the anxiety is managed as well as you can, whilst it may not be “cured” by running, perhaps it is lessened which still means running is helping you. I think you’ll achieve your marathon dreams. Keep the faith 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was running a few days ago (at the gym no less) and listening to a song that my dead father had (inexplicably to me at the time) always loved. And suddenly at a certain moment in the song I just started crying, without any warning. Luckily I had my gym towel and was already a bit sweaty so no one else needed to notice and feel awkward. These moments happen, and even though the Old Man is not 8 years gone and our relationship was tempestuous to say the least, I kind of take comfort in those moments. My love is bigger than my aching legs or my ragged breath. My love was bigger than the fear and hurt he put me through. He was not perfect and nor am I, but those moments make me realise that I am alive and responding to my emotions in a more healthy way than he ever could. So I was grateful (once I calmed down enough).

    Liked by 1 person

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