Running, Stress, and Running Stress

Does running help you relieve stress, or do you stress about running? A little bit o’ both? Me too :)


The week is officially half over! Unfortunately and fortunately, I have another weekend of travel ahead, this time a 5 hour drive each way to visit family. I am very excited to see everyone and to spend Father’s Day with my uncle, but not so much looking forward to another weekend where I don’t get much sleep, miss my volunteering, and don’t get anything done around the house.

I also will have to work this weekend, which means home and at the computer Sunday night as soon as I get home. Am I the only one already looking forward to the long 4th of July weekend?


I woke up this morning very groggy and suddenly remembered that before I went to bed, I registered for the Amica Newport Half Marathon! Did I dream it? No, I checked my crackberry and sure enough there was my confirmation. The thought filled me with excitement. This will be my first race since the 2008 Boston Marathon, so though I know I can do it, it feels entirely new to me again!
I tend to always consider myself a runner, though I take long periods of time off of running to do other exercise and to rest my mind. My relationship with running has not always been smooth. In the year that I graduated from college, I lost my father, moved away from school and friends to a new city, started a new job and got an apartment of my own, had some money troubles, and eventually re-found running as a stress reliever.

 To make friends in my new city, I joined Team in Training and planned on running the Portland, ME marathon. Before I knew it I was attending 2 group runs a week and loving it. I was in great shape, and I was faster than I ever was in high school! I was running with the all of the guys, and sometimes running stronger than they were. At the times I was running, I knew that I could train with the goal of qualifying for Boston in my mind.

Toward the end of the summer, and about 6 weeks from the marathon, the pain in my right shin became unbearable. One of the TNT coaches, a physical therapist, pressed gently on my shin, which literally made me cry. It was time to see a doctor. I made my way to Mass General where I saw a great sports medicine doc, but by the end of the visit, I was told that I couldn’t run for 12 weeks! A stress fracture in my lower right tibia would plague me for the coming weeks and put me out of the running for the Portland Marathon.

Running had become the way I filled my time outside of work, so I switched from running to the elliptical, spending 2 or 2.5 hours at a time on it. (Looking back I can not even imagine how I did it- BORING!) I would set up my Gu gels, water, and walkman and just work. I got into amazing shape, lost weight that I never needed to lose, and when the time came to run, I was right back in step. While I had missed the Portland Marathon, I was able to transfer my fundraising to the Bermuda Marathon – hello Bermuda in January! I ran my 21 miler with Team in Training, came in first and a time that, if I continued for 5.2 more miles, would have easily qualified me for Boston.
Fast forward to Bermuda. In the time I was back running, I had become obsessed with qualifying. It was all I thought about, and I was right on target, training-wise. The marathon ended up being miserable for me. I had become so stressed and obsessed that my body was tense and felt exhausted. The island was gorgeous, the route was challenging, and I felt like I could barely move my legs. I ended up finishing in 4:18 – a respectable time in my opinion now – but not the 3:40 I needed for Boston, not even close.

From that day on, I had a few more running obsessed moments and then decided to quit cold turkey. I could walk, hike, go to the gym, but not spend hours working out, and no running. In the past years, my attitude has really changed. I only run when I want to, and it is fun for me. Due to the injury I had, I also have a very specific training plan which I have posted below. The plan varies depending on where I am in training for an event, so consider now that I am 4 months from my half. The intention of my post was not to discourage anyone training out there, and I really hope it doesn’t. I have learned to consider my entire being when it comes to health and exercise, and I have really learned the power that the mind has over the body!
I ran the 3.5 miles home from work today and am about to do a Tank Top Upper Body workout. It feels SO good to run when I want to and respect the days I feel I need off!
Off to finish my workout, make dinner, and prepare for a new episode of Top Chef: Masters. Have a good evening!

Monday: 3.5 mile run, 22 minutes of arms and abs
Tuesday: Round trip walk to and from work – about 6.5 miles
Wednesday: 3.5 mile run, 22 minutes of arms and abs
Thursday: 35 minute cycle on stationary bike, preferably watching bad TV 
Friday: Hill workout – 3-5 miles of running total
Saturday: Being active – a hike, walk, shopping etc. plus some upper body strength
Sunday: Off!

Note that I am walking to work almost everyday and walking home when I am not running. My running mileage and cycling time will increase as I get closer to the half- up to 11 miles and about an hour of cycling.

  1. Lynn (The Actors Diet)’s avatar

    I stress about running…ever since they made us run the mile in high school (and I always came in last) it’s just not a fun thing for me. I’m in awe of runners!


  2. Goldie’s avatar

    i have a bit of both. on my 4 mile runs I feel calmer and I always feel better if I can run somewhere there are no cars BUT on my long runs I have to run near the road and for some reason this stresses me out massively. I don’t know why but I feel really conscious of my self.

    very strange!


  3. justine’s avatar

    I am not much of a runner!! How do you like Portland so far? My husband and I have been looking at new cities to maybe move to for a few years.



  4. traveleatlove’s avatar

    We actually live in Boston, and for the most part love it! Do you mean Portland, ME or OR? I have been to both and both are great cities, though I bet the weather in OR is a bit warmer in winter!


  5. traveleatlove’s avatar

    Isn’t it the worst when something stresses you out and saps your running energy? Traffic can do that to me too. When I ran the Bermuda marathon, the traffic wasn’t stopped for the whole thing, and there were buses zooming by! not the best way to run a marathon!


  6. traveleatlove’s avatar

    The large majority of my friends HATE running! It makes it so difficult to find running partners!


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