I can’t begin to tell you the number of times that I had seen someone suited up to the eyeballs in lycra running and I thought to myself, ‘Yeah I could do that, how hard could it be’ but I never did.
I remember the day that I realised I was really overweight and I thought to myself ‘I’m going to run’. I got up around 6am, put on my running shoes and off I went. I made it to the end of my street and back (about 100 metres) before I thought I was going to die.
I curled up on my bed struggling to catch my breath hoping that the feeling would go away.
It was around the same time that I had my first panic attack. That was really bad and to a degree it felt the same. The shortness of breath, the feeling that I knew I wanted to get up but I just couldn’t – horrible.
It was three years after this that things started to change.
I was really out of shape and to be honest I was really low. Some amazing things had happened in that time, I got married, I was now a home owner but I was still having panic attacks quite frequently and I just couldn’t keep my mind quiet. I couldn’t understand why it was happening to me?
I made the decision that I needed to get rid of my belly so I started to cycle to work, it was great. I started to lose a few pounds, I was covering some serious milage and I found the cycling quite calming.
I was still very much put off running from my experience that I had (nearly dying) running up and down my old street but a few people had said things like ‘your legs will be quite strong now you have started cycling, you should try running’.
Eventually I convinced myself to get up at 6am again, put on my ‘exercise shoes’ and go for a run.
BANG! 3KM! I couldn’t believe it. I managed to (just about) run 3 kilometers.
After a few runs I started to get into the swing of things, I bought some proper running shoes and some lycra and was regularly running 5 – 10km in reasonable times.
More often than not I found running very calming. If i had had a bad day or I was feeling particularly anxious about something I would go out for a run, it would help me clear my head, I knew it was good for me but i didn’t quite realise just how good it was for me.
Let’s say I was feeling anxious about something and I decided that I was going to stay at home and have a rest. All of that unused energy is being taken up by my anxious thoughts. To make it even worse the unused muscles become tense and intensify the symptoms of anxiety.
On the flip side of that, when I run most of my energy is being spent on using my legs which, for me, makes it a heck of a lot easier to collect my thoughts and organise them.
I’m pretty sure that the endorphins help too. This is what science says about endorphins:
‘Endorphins are designed to make exercise easier and less painful, like endorphins. Endorphins also play a significant role in relaxation. By exercising, your mind and body will have a much easier time relaxing.’
Running has dramatically improved my physical health and my wellbeing. I really feel it when i don’t run or exercise.
Now here’s the thing. There is a huge correlation between people who have anxiety and people who don’t exercise regularly.
Running and regular exercise is just one of many things that can help you get a grip on your anxiety. Some studies say it is more effective than medication.
When I started running it was around about the same time I recognised that I needed help to manage my anxiety. Alongside getting help from a medical professional I had a group of friends who I opened up to. As well as doing that a few of us started to run together.
I had had difficulty opening up about my anxiety because in my head I saw it as weakness and real men just suck it up (which I will say now is a load of crap!) but having a supportive group of mate who I could run with has improved my state of mind an incredible amount.
For the days when I just didn’t feel like it or when I was having a hard time with anxiety, my mates were there to pick me up (and sometimes kick my butt) and encourage me to get out there and run it off!
The funny thing is, when I tell them how I feel they often respond with a ‘Really? Me too!’ or a ‘I felt like that once, this is how I overcame it’ and that helped me overcome.
We understand that sometimes making friends isn’t an easy thing to do which is why we want to set up support activities and groups so getting your feelings out there is less daunting.
For far too long Men have been told that to have feelings is to be weak – we want to change that. We want you to Get It Out!