Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 17 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Running and Overcoming

Since I last posted here, I have read and appreciated all of your comments. It is so helpful to know I am not as abnormal as I feared. And I'm doing better. My thoughts have settled, and today they were actually pretty good. Thank you again for all of your helpful feedback!

I actually had a lot of practice controlling my thoughts today, as I ran a race. My brain is notoriously noisy during races, especially longer ones. Today's race was eleven miles on a paved trail. Despite the pouring rain prior to the start, there was a pretty good turnout.

I didn't know what kind of performance to expect. I've been working really hard on my speed work and tempo runs, so I hoped for a decent time, but I wasn't sure if I had done enough work yet for any kind of payoff today. It was a good test race for me at this point in my training.

I started fast but controlled. I knew it would be a tough race mentally, as it is an out and back course through the woods. This morning it was just me and my thoughts. Not knowing what kind of shape I was in, I didn't know if I had gone out too fast, too slow, or just right. My brain, of course, took advantage of my questioning and bombarded me with negative thoughts. I ignored them as best I could and settled in.

After 4 miles I was still feeling pretty good. There was another woman in the distance in front of me, and I slowly reeled her in. I had about a ten second lead on her at the turn-around. I also knew I was in 4th place overall among the women. With no chance of catching the top three, I concentrated on putting more distance between me and the woman in fifth.

I was getting tired. I didn't know if I could hold my pace. The negative thinking reared its ugly head again, but I fought back. Between miles 6 and 7 I came up with a mantra to drown out the negativity. "I'm stronger. I'm getting stronger." The more tired I got, the more ferociously I thought. It worked. Mile 8 was my fastest mile of the entire race!

Those last three miles were tough, but I never let up. In the end, I put over three minutes between me and the woman in fifth. I finished in 4th place overall, and I finished first in my age division. It was a good test and an enjoyable race.

I think the timing of this challenging race couldn't have been better. Historically, as it was again today, I've been able to overcome negative thinking when I race. If I can overcome when I race, there's no reason to think I can't overcome at other times. If my broken thinking shows up again in the next few days, I should be able to recall today's mental effort with some confidence. Once again running has given me a tool for living my life. I love that.


Erica said...

That's awesome! You know, all your talk about how running is a tool that has helped you fight depression has inspired me to push myself to try running. I couldn't even make it once around the track at the nearby high school without needing to walk and catch my breath, but it felt good to be outside in the fresh air and bright sunshine! So thank you, again, for being an inspiration :)

krystal lynn said...

I am really impressed with your running skills. I started a daily walk-run of about 4-8 miles but have slowed down because of the extreme heat. I was getting migraines. But I plan to get out in about an hour and see how far I can go. I was up to running about half the distance of the whole trek but I can't seem to get the energy up for running more than about 3 miles. I feel so much better mentally and physically after a run/walk.

Tina Fariss Barbour said...

That is a great idea, to have a mantra to counteract the negative thinking. Good for you, and congrats on doing so well in the race! I love when you write about your running and relate it to how you are getting stronger in life, too.

etta said...

Whoo, Hoo, Erica!! Congratulations on getting outside and making it around the track! Remember, anyone can run. Like you, I started with one step! Keep it up!

CitrusGal said...

My treadmill and I are friends once more. Thank you for your inspiration.

Stationary Runner said...

Aaaah I think Blogger just ate my comment. The gist of it was, I'm glad your race went well, and I, too, am grateful for running. It is an excellent coping mechanism, and an excellent way to deal with depression/other difficult mental experiences.