Running & Maintaining My Sanity

Every week a new article about how exercise and the outdoors help us feel happier. We retweet the articles, share them on our Facebook pages, and think to ourselves “I didn’t really need a study to tell me that.”

But the minute life gets busy, exercise and adventures are the first thing to get set aside. When there are deadlines looming and to-do lists a mile long “I’ll do it later” turns into “I’m too tired, maybe there will be time tomorrow” and then tomorrow fills up and before you know it, weeks have gone by.

In the midst of my blitz to the end of my teaching program and the end of the school year I’ve let my fitness regimen lag a little bit but I haven’t let things go entirely—and the fact is that I can’t. I feel a little bit strange about this (re)realization. It’s nothing new to me that my mood is immensely better, that I’m more efficient at home and at work and just  a generally happier person to be around when I take the time to workout but I haven’t quite made peace with that yet.

I require exercise to be a functional adult.

Sitting at my desk last week towards the end of the day, I could feel this unspecified dread bubbling up within me. I was caught up on my teaching program requirements, only a normal amount behind on my grading, and my belongings were well on their way to being packed and moved to Ridgway. And yet: this weird, depressed, anxious, sad sort of feeling permeated around me and I didn’t want to teach or accomplish anything. I debated whether I could just spend the evening in bed cuddling with Sprocket.

At home, knowing the answer to “Can I really just be lazy tonight?” was a resounding NO, I changed into my running clothes. “Just do two miles,” I told myself. “You’ll feel better.” Just shy of two miles in the damp spring air, it all clicked and I changed my route to add another three. My mental clarity returned and the run felt good.

I have accepted rationally that I need the run, the yoga, the strength and core work. I need it to be the happy friend, teacher, daughter, co-worker, granddaughter, sister, aunt, and stranger that I want to be. Can I function without exercise? Sure, but not at the level I want to. Mentally, I feel almost defeated by this realization. Knowing is power, yes, but I’m not sure that I feel okay knowing that my grasp on happiness is as tenuous as that.

“At least it’s not drugs!” I think. I ponder the intersection of endorphins and the self-confidence that has grown in my body’s abilities (and, if I’m being honest, at least a little in its appearance). There is no sweeping epiphany though, no “This is how you live your best life.” Instead, there is a quiet knowing that I need that time for myself to be me and a searching for acceptance of that fact.

6 Replies to “Running & Maintaining My Sanity”

  1. So… What’s wrong with that?
    Just put it on your “planning calander”.
    Then it is part of your daily routine.
    Since it is a personal activity it comes out of your personal hours of the day. That narrows your window.
    Ya can’t do it when you’re sleeping and it is best done before showering and/or eating. The window keeps getting smaller.
    I do have a question though. For someone that loves the outdoors, traveling, and excercising like your blog indicates, why do you choose to restrict your life so much by entering into an occupation that leaves you landlocked and tied in one place so much of the year? Why not work in a field of the things you love instead of just treating them as a hobby?
    Life has no Undo button and there is no second chance to follow your dreams.
    Are you Really following yours?
    Just wondering.

    1. I actually really like teaching. Of all the careers I’ve ever had, I find it really fulfilling to share my love of science with kids. The upside of teaching is that although it does tie you to a place, it does have some large chunks of time off for adventure. If I could really find a career that would give me that flexibility I might consider changing but I really am happy.

      I also really love the place where I have chose to live–Ridgway is a great place and I am happy to have a place to live. Mobile living was my thing for almost three years and I know that having a stable place with friends is really great for me.

      1. Happiness is what is important.
        I have always been fasinated with science. A&P, chemistry, and microbiology were my favorites.
        Hindsight is one of the best teachers of all. I didn’t think so at the time but finally realized that my favorite teachers were the ones that controled their classroom with firm disipline and a love for teaching. They also expected us to learn. Rules were set and punishment was handed out as needed. A crack on the knuckles with a ruler or a swat on the rear was pretty common back then. All of us were better off back then.
        The pledge of allegence was done every morning and Yes Madam and Yes Sir were a given and being respectfull was demanded. Parents worked with teachers and drilled their children at home to help them learn their lessons. Everyone had their role and did their part.
        Times have changed and that kind of cooperation seems to have went by the wayside and parents expect teachers to do all the education of their children and take little responsibility for anything at all. Except to cast blame and complaints that is.
        I don’t envy you for the path you are choosing but do commend you for taking the plunge. Hopefully it will be all that you want it to be.
        The wandering spirit is a hard thing to control and in retrospect I would yeild to it instead of living the so called “life” that society indoctrinates us to live.
        This is why I told you that there is no Undo button in life.
        Enjoy it to the fullest and do what your spirit calls you to do.
        It’s too bad that Retrospect comes much later in life.
        Best wishes and encouragement with all that you do.

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