As a quick introduction, this will be my first post of the New Year. I sort of fell off the wagon with my casual writing over the summer and am excited to get back into it and hopefully stick to a more regular publishing schedule. My writing is a little rusty so hope you enjoy 🙂
When friends or acquaintances ask me why I run so much, I tell them that it can partially be attributed to the fact that I co-own and run a start-up. Usually, I’m met with expressive eyebrows and a look that screams: “I don’t know what you’re talking about, but I’m going to smile like I understand.” I then proceed to tell them that running is a form of self-medication; it’s my escape from the stresses, disappointments, challenges and fluctuating trajectory that owning a start-up produces.
Although you’ve most likely heard me say this, and perhaps I may sound a bit like a broken record, but since I left my full-time job at a digital marketing agency over two years ago, and then proceeded to jump head first into building my start-up Oneiric, I’ve never felt more overtaxed in my life. This is not a cry for sympathy, but instead, I wanted to share how I cope with the stresses that are not just applicable to my life, but manifest in different shapes and forms in everybody else’s lives as well.
To start, let me offer these wise words of advice that I had to experience and learn the hard way: drinking an excessive amount of bourbon does not relieve stress. It just gives you whisky breath and the grunts of an old man who would 100% yell at little kids to get off his lawn. I found that turning to alcohol was detrimental to my health, not feasible, and was a bandaid solution. Of course it was a way to numb myself and escape the realities of tight cash flow, manufacturing delays, and countless other unexpected issues that arise on the daily, but in turn, amplified my stresses ten fold.
This is when I started to turn to running as a form of escape. Everyone who knows me, knows that I love running (and if you’re reading this, you most likely know this fact too). It’s the one form of exercise that I’ve made stick over the past 12 years. However, instead of just using it as a mechanism for staying in shape, I also use running to help alleviate my stresses in a healthy way (bye bourbon).
When I would be hit with the harsh realities of running a business, I would sometimes feel a bit helpless; as if I was just a passenger on a long, disappointing ride, not the captain actually steering the ship. However, when it comes to running, I feel a sense of liberation, as if I have full control. I can decide where and when I run, work on distance or my pace, choose from a myriad of routes, craft my own unique playlists, and lastly, push myself to whatever limit or extreme I wish. Running has become a staple coping mechanism for stress and has truly been instrumental in helping change my perspective of the daily challenges I endure.
Although I may sound like I am the the biggest cheerleader for running (which I know, sounds obnoxious), but just because I love it, doesn’t mean that it comes super natural to me everyday. More often than not, I find it hard to drag myself out the door, especially when my home offers the comfort of coffee, blankets and my little fur baby, Ellie. I’ve been running consistently for over 12 years now, and although I have improved in every facet of distance running, I still find it difficult to start my workouts. Like (mostly) every human, procrastination is my jam; I will delay my daily run for as long as I can.
So, I’ve started to shift my mentality a bit, and I’ve developed a habit of brainstorming all the benefits that my run will bring afterwards: the runners high and endorphin kick, having a warm shower, eating a nourishing breakfast, and feeling like my overall health has improved and I’m making progress towards my goals. In this sense, running has become part of my identity.
Although running certainly is a major stress relief, it also has a dual function: it translates into numerous other areas of my life. Pushing the boundaries of my energy and endurance has encouraged me to push myself to overcome undesirable circumstances and tasks within the business realm. It has significantly helped me stretch my self-discipline limbs as well; approaching difficult and daunting tasks in a new light and trying to deal with them right then and there instead of easily moving them to the “needs responding to later” folder.
In the same vein, the actual act of running gives me the breathing room and headspace to come up with innovative, creative ideas and strategies for my business. On some of my longer outdoor runs, I sometimes dive into a good non-fiction audiobook, which allows me to kill two birds with one stone: exercise my body and my mind.
If you are to take anything away from this post, I hope it is this: find something you love to do and channel your energy into it. It doesn’t have to be running, it can be anything under the sun that makes you happy and gives you some sense of productivity in your day. You can start taking that pottery class you’ve always wanted to dive into, exercise your mind through daily writing practices, or you can even focus your efforts on finally becoming an extreme ironing athlete (it’s a real thing, look it up…but don’t blame me if you get sucked into the vortex that is this extreme sport).
Regardless of what you decide to pursue, I promise that it will not only function as a form of relief from the burden of stress and anxiety, but the skills you will accumulate will be transferable to other areas of your life. Setting hard goals and pushing yourself out of your comfort level is a concrete way of striving to be a better version of yourself, and who doesn’t want to achieve personal growth?