Running is the Best Medicine

Thursday, 9 October 2008  |  Bullish Insights

Running is the best medicine, at least in my world; laughter comes a close second. (Laughing during a long run—which is a habit that Annie and I practice on weekends—will probably make us live to 100.)

Yesterday, after complications arose from the operation of my ill relative that brought my entire family into stress and worry on Monday until the wee hours of Tuesday morning, I woke up exhausted from hospital duties with only a short break to care for the kids before I returned to the hospital again. I desperately needed to run; I knew it would relieve me of all my concerns albeit temporarily and give me strength to face yet another day of troubles.

So, like a crazed woman, I pushed my body to the limits by running under the intense 8:30 a.m. heat with barely 3 hours of sleep.  I planned on running just 8km, enough to release a few pints of sweat along with the anxieties that were dragging me down. The first 2k was a challenge, but before long I found my rhythm and ran somberly through familiar roads.

When you run alone, there’s no escaping your thoughts, no escaping your own reality. Just as you can jot down your own bucket list, solve a problem, or create a new business while out on a run, you also come face-to-face with your anxieties, fears, and worst nightmares.  As it turns out, all my worries started chasing me during this run.  My initial reaction was like what most of you would’ve done, I ran away from them as fast as I could. In less than a kilometer, I was pooped.

Then, as I slowed down, I suddenly thought of visualizing my anxieties in words—being the graphic designer that I am, they were in Futura Bold, 48pt, all caps in case you wanted to know—and they popped up not in front of me like road blocks, but under my feet. I started stomping on words like FEAR, EGO, BILLS, and the biggest of them all, DEATH. This all occurred in a span of just a few minutes, but at the risk of sounding melodramatic and psycho, these things actually did work. Gone were the worries, replaced with a new sense of hope and optimism.

My relative did well during the operation last night. He surprised doctors—who told us to expect the worst—by staying strong during a 2nd operation even after suffering from a mild heart attack on Monday morning.  He’s slowly recovering and we’re all keeping our fingers crossed.

So, yes, running is definitely therapeutic; I experienced that for myself yesterday. We might as well believe what those wise runners from old have said about the benefits of running on our health: A run a day keeps the doctor away and A mile of running is better than a pound of cure.