When running isn’t therapy

Sunday morning I awoke to the same horrible news as you probably did. While I was sleeping, a man entered a gay club in my hometown of Orlando and opened fire killing 49 people. I was devastated. And concerned for my friends. I decided that I would go ahead and get in my 14 mile trail run. As I headed to the trail via subway, I had time to think. The more I thought, the more upset I became. The longer it took for friends to check in, the more concerned I became. By the time I hit the trail, I was a mess of emotions and choking back tears. I spent the next 3 hours stopping every 5-10 minutes to check my phone. I was checking to see if my friends had checked in okay, but at the same time was fielding replies to some of my posts calling for friends to please stop blaming guns at this sensitive moment and shift their attention to supporting the LGBT community which, for good reason, was reeling. My emotions went to some very dark and painful places on that trail.

I have not run since that morning. I just haven’t had the motivation. Like everyone else in the world, I’ve been trying to process this insanity and have been grieving for my communities–both Orlando and the LGBT community. It is a “cut back” week in terms of mileage so I’m not really doing any damage aside from losing some conditioning. But when I think about running now, especially when I think about returning to that trail this weekend, I cringe a little. It’s like the trauma of that morning is now directly associated with running. I’ve had this happen before to a much lesser degree when I’ve had an exceptionally horrible run, but never to the point to where I start to question if I want to run again. Yes, in the past day, I have questioned whether I want to run again. Despite knowing that the best possible thing I could probably do for myself right now is get out there and work through this and make running my safe space again, my therapy.

And this is why I love running. I questioned whether I should follow my Saturday post with this because they both likely read fairly negative, but I think it’s important to document these emotions. This is all a part of the journey of being a runner for me. A part of my distance traveled. I don’t run to win races or even PR. I run because of how it changes me. How it makes me stronger not just physically, but mentally. I run because it allows me to know myself better, to help me acknowledge aspects of myself that I may not have otherwise realized, and to push through perceived limits. I run because it makes me a better me.

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