Wednesday 21 February 2018

Doctor's orders: It's best to hit the road, than hit out in anger

Running is as good for your head as it is for your fitness. Stock image
Running is as good for your head as it is for your fitness. Stock image
Dr Ciara Kelly

Dr Ciara Kelly

I'm not a particularly angry person. Oh, I have my moments - when people cut across me in traffic, if someone is rude to me in shops, when I can't find my keys.

OK, well, let's say I'm a moderately angry person. But what should you do to cope with your anger?

Do you take it out on your nearest and dearest? Not a great idea. Nearests and dearests don't tend to like it.

Do you internalise it and spend time brooding and being miserable? Also not a great idea - I'm sure apart from giving you an ulcer - it's probably a recipe for a very unhappy life.

Anger is something we all experience but expressing it can be detrimental to yourself and those around you, and suppressing it and pushing it down into an internal ball of pain isn't that much of an alternative.

But I am here with a solution! I offer you my own personal therapy for anger; for when platitudes like; 'In with anger, out with love' - or when mindfulness and breathing exercises just don't cut it. I give you - angry running! A sure fire antidote to all your inner rage.

I have an on-off relationship with running. I like it when we are together. But if I haven't been with running for a while I tend to forget all about it. And when I consider going back to it sometimes - it seems like too much of an effort and I decide instead to cheat on my relationship, with TV or social media or just lying on the couch.

I am currently back in a relationship with running and I'm enjoying it.

It ended badly the last time there was pain (an Achilles tendonitis) and an abrupt break up after a period where I just wasn't that into it for a good while.

I wasn't really planning on getting back together but I was away for a few days recently and did a fair bit of walking and surprised myself with how relatively small distances in flat shoes were tiring me out.

So my fitness was not what it was or nowhere near what it should be. And I dusted off my couch to 5k app when I returned.

It took an unedifying struggle to drag myself back to any level of fitness. But I'm back a little fitter, faster and more toned now which feels good.

Let's not exaggerate. I'm nowhere near where I should be or indeed where I have been in fitness terms - but, as they say, once you're moving at all, you're lapping everyone on the couch.

But one of the main reasons I like it isn't anything to do with fitness.

One of the reasons I really do like running deep down - is angry running!

I'd forgotten how good and useful it is. Fight with your partner - run it off! Randos on social media call you horrible things repeatedly - run it off. Feel overwhelmed, narky or inadequate - run it off!

There is a genuine dissipation of anger and negative feelings when you run.

Feeling crap? - run faster, run longer. I know it's endorphins and what have you but forget the science, it just feels good. And it lets off steam.

I'm half wondering, if it's like smoking where you feel relief when you have a cigarette because you've been in withdrawal from nicotine.

Does the run feel good because you were craving the high from the last run and that's what was making you angry in the first place?

But no matter - its all definitely still better than sitting on your ass.

I sometimes grit my teeth and almost growl when I'm running, I even occasionally punch the air - yes I try to wear sunglasses so nobody I know will recognise me - as I expel all my anger, all my stress, all my frustrations.

I'm sure some people engage in running in a meditative way - I do find it's good for your head, but for me the main bit I like is the release.

It's more like 'Out with anger - in with love!' and it suits me.

There isn't everywhere where you can shout out all your anger but running along an empty road is one of those places.

It's like a safety valve.

"Let the mad woman runner through - and no one gets hurt!" I'm thinking of starting a movement.


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