The month of May is Mental Health Month and Mental Health America has chosen to focus on the integration and physical health and mental health. It’s timely as physical health and mental health providers are working closer together than ever to provide a more integrated, holistic approach. I am a runner and a therapist who has personally experienced how the two can affect each other and how healing your physical health can be a powerful antidote for your mental health.
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The first time I decided to give running a try I laced up my shoes, walked to Central Park, got to what looked like a good place to run and went for it. About 2 minutes in I decided I deserved a walking break, eventually self-diagnosing weak ankles and concluding it just wasn’t for me. It hurt, I was tired and wasn’t exactly sure where or what I was running to. I remember watching the New York City Marathon for the first time. My sister suggested we go cheer and I said to myself, “Now this is something I will never do.” These were a different breed of people and I just didn’t get how running some obscene amount miles was a good idea.
Fast forward 9 years. I have completed three World Major Marathons, about to start training for my fourth, completed 17 half marathons and about 60 other shorter courses. Lesson one: never say never.
Here are 5 more ways running has taught me life lessons and shaped my mental health.