I Used to Run to Escape My Everyday Life — Now I Run to Maintain It

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It took a few years to be able to express why I love running so much. But I know now that running is my way of processing my day: the stresses of work, my relationships, my emotions, my anxiety. Truth be told, running was my way of escaping everyday life for the past few years. When I was running, my mind and body separated, and my body took control of the driver's seat for just a minute. I'd simply follow my feet, keep running, and wherever my mind wandered while I was hyperfocused on the pounding of my own feet, well, there it went!

As someone who is notorious among her friends and family for overthinking, worrying, and dwelling far too much, running was my answer. It reminded me to press pause on the thought train and simply live in the moment, so I could focus all my energy on those next few miles. In doing so, I often found the things I was stressing over or dwelling on didn't seem so insurmountable at all.

Today, everyday life looks quite different in lockdown mode. And like many, my mind is working overtime to process it all. Yet as different as life looks, my runs look oddly the same. Sure, I'm wearing a mask while I run and am waking up at dawn to avoid crowded streets, but the act of running itself feels wonderfully mundane. The only thing that's changed now is that instead of running away from normal life, I'm running toward it. You see, what was once my escape from real life is now the only outlet I have back to it.

While on an early morning run recently, I looked around at the other runners scattered distantly on the streets. It struck me that each one of us was probably doing what we'd normally do, regardless of a pandemic. Whatever each person's reason for getting out there was that morning, the simple fact remained: we were all doing our best to keep on running, one foot in front of the other.

Whether I'm waiting patiently all week to wear my favorite sports bra for my long run or scoping out a new pair of sneakers (it's the little things!), being a runner has brought stability back into my life and is a constant for me when nothing is constant. If I follow my feet and listen to my own breathing for just a few miles, I can regain a sense of normalcy again. My mind, as filled to the brim with stress and worry as it may be, resumes its place in the passenger seat, and nothing — especially not a couple miles — seems insurmountable.