Quiet time on the running trail

“The gun goes off and everything changes … the world changes … and nothing else really matters.”

~ Patti Sue Plumer,
American long-distance runner

Running is an effective weight-management tool, and it smooths the rough edges on my stress profile, too.

I know for a fact I am bitchier on days I don’t get exercise. When I need quiet time, I put on my Asics and dash out the door. I often run with my iPod, but when I’m in a pickle, I leave it behind and just pound the pavement while I think about my breathing.

I distinctly remember a 6-mile run on a summer day five years ago. The day before, I had to lay off two staff members, and it felt like choosing which toes I wanted to have removed. I have no doubt that black day was more awful for the two women I laid off, and I don’t mean to minimize their experiences as I lament my role in middle-management. But (yes, but!) unless you’re Cruella DeVille, telling people you’ve hired and mentored that their contributions are no longer necessary to the company’s continued success is difficult. Unable to sleep, I got up at 5 a.m. and just ran. It helped me cope with the pit in my stomach.

Three years ago, when I was trying to figure out my place in my new community in Illinois and before I found the great group of friends in my book club, I reveled in the solitude of a run. The little village where I live doesn’t have culture, shopping or a night life to speak of, but it offers miles of quiet, crime-free roads on which to run.

Last summer, in the midst of an excruciatingly painful custody battle that interfered with my ability to eat (oh, to have such problems), I still ran, albeit more slowly, but I ran. That trial passed, too, but at the time, running was like pounding a pillow for me (and legal, considering the alternatives that crossed my mind).

This week, I am in Minnesota, and my stress is at an all-time low. No employer is placing unreasonable demands on me, and even my unemployment is nothing special in light of the millions of Americans in the same boat. I am surrounded, literally and figuratively, with wonderful friends. My familial relationships are copacetic.

And still, a nice quiet run keeps the peace for me. The volume control on my iPod is acting up (who knows why technology can be so impertinent — again, to have such problems) so yesterday as I ran around the campground, Hall & Oates’ “I Can’t Go For That” faded away to nothing. I removed my ear buds and listened to the wind in the trees and counted my blessings.

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68 responses to “Quiet time on the running trail

  1. Ah…indeed…you are in inspiration…” to revel in the solitude of a run”…how true…as I reflect back on my past runs at 4 am and here in the country to never see a soul except for rabbits, deer, coyotes, turkeys…and stars…there is truly solitude and beauty in country runs that folks in the city on their trails and sidewalks rarely get to see…especially unobstructed views of full moons, galaxies, and time with God…yes, “to revel in the solitude of a run”…that just says it all!

  2. I remember how my dad (your grandfather) loved to use the word copacetic. I have no idea if he used it correctly but something about the feel of it rolling off his tongue intrigued him. How he loved words! I recall the thrill he had to receive a new dictionary for his birthday from a neighbor one year (much better than the new shirt I gave him). Ah..memories!

  3. Well said. Glad you have a good path to run on. Running is not my choice of reducing stress, but I understand the overall need to exercise.

  4. It’s so nice to know that you find solace in running, an activity which I consider fast disappearing from the world of “working professionals”.

    • minnesotatransplant

      One has to make time for what’s important. I’ve decided thinner thighs and less stress are more important than climbing the corporate ladder. For me, the ladder led nowhere.

  5. I just had a friend suggest vodka and Diet Coke as a cure for stress. Perhaps running would be a healthier alternative?

    😉

  6. you are absolutely correct about being ‘bitchier’ if one does not get exercise, I’m the same!

  7. Exercising is certainly a stress reliever, thanks for writing about this! I wish I could run but my ankles prohibit it, so I’m “stuck” walking on the beautiful trails in Minnesota.

  8. “I know for a fact I am bitchier on days I don’t get exercise. ” i couldn’t agree more. in fact, today i moved my run time up 4 hours – i could feel it coming on. i started running about 3 months ago (when i became a stay at home dad) and find great peace on my runs – i also enjoy the challenge of going further or bettering a time. i tend to run without music though. i enjoy the sound of my breathe. it could also have something to do with my ipod being stolen – that’s another story. good piece.

  9. Great piece. I personally am not much of a runner – I can’t really run for more than a minute without falling to the floor unable to breathe, which is bad at my age… but you definitely made running sound more enticing!
    My stress relief is listening to or playing music – works every time!

    http://pjmgfashionn11.wordpress.com/

  10. Monica, great blog and great message. Running is close to my heart and when the world appears to be falling apart, I can always count on the solitude a nice run will bring my sagging spirit!

  11. It’s amazing what movement can do for the soul. True innerpeace comes when body affects the mind which calms the spirit. Great post and thanks for sharing.

  12. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been to lay those two women off. Exercise, although I am not a big fan of it, is quite a stress reliever.

    Congrats on being freshly pressed.

  13. Sounds like fun. Wish I could run again but my doctors tell me not to.

  14. Nice write. I too agree exercise can relieve stress. Even when your breathless.

  15. I wear a necklace that reads “run trail, not your mouth.” Running often keeps me from doing what I might regret in exchange for doing what I truly love. Happy trails to you!

  16. I decided a year ago I wanted to become someone who loved running. At the time I couldn’t even run at all, but took up the challenge. Now after a lot of hard work, it is something I look forward to and thoroughly enjoy doing. It is as peaceful as it is thrilling for me.

    • minnesotatransplant

      I took up running at age 39. Like you, it took a while to get “good” at it, but now I can’t live without it.

  17. Hello,
    I’m not a runner, but planning to start anytime soon, thanks for sharing this post, with such a great sense of humor.

    Congrats on your Freshly Pressed.
    Cheers from Brazil
    🙂

  18. When I came across your blog, I found I could totally relate! While I’m not in your situation with unemployment, I am dealing with “being more productive by using less resources” aka – more work and less people – and it is wearing on me. The days I can get out there and get some miles in makes my day go by so much better. Running in the evenings helps get out my stress. Glad to knw we relate on this!

  19. This post rang so true for me! I use running as not only my primary form of exercise, but a stress management tool as well. If I’m angry, sad, frustrated, stressed, etc… I just throw on my sneakers and run and it has never failed to make me feel better 🙂 I’m a fan of going without the iPod sometimes too, It definitely helps me to focus on my breathing.

  20. running as an activity is known to release your stored anger. I think it is second best to a punching bag. 🙂

  21. Great post! I have a similiar running story…in that it has gotten me through job craziness, divorce craziness, custody craziness and ME craziness. It has been my salvation…love that it’s so important to you too! http://cueyourlife.com/2011/09/02/my-love-affair-with-running/

    Cheers!

  22. Running is like therapy for me. No matter what frame of mind I am in when I start, I always feel emotionally stronger and happier when I am done. Loved your blog about how running has gotten you through some of the tough times too.

  23. I can relate to you on many levels. First, I’m a Wisconsin-raised, U of Minnesota alum transplanted in the Seattle suburbs, but had intended on settling in Chicago. Secondly, I’m a writer/editor on hiatus while raising three kids, but look forward to getting back to reporting soon. And thirdly, I am addicted to walking. I can’t get enough of it. I get into that mode with the iPod, the playlist, etc. Wish I could run. I’ve tried so many times. You are blessed. Keep it up!

    Ms. Nonconformity

  24. “I removed my ear buds and listened to the wind in the trees and counted my blessings.”

    i like this

    http://asicswomensrunningshoes.blogspot.com/

  25. Endorphins the opiate of the masses – where would we be without them? Exerxise is good but when the endorphins kick in after all the pain and strain, a new person is born! The secret is in keeping up all the good work. Nothing comes easy but exercise is free!

  26. HI,
    Thanks for this post.The timing couldn be more perfect. I just registered for a half marathon!!

  27. Hey nice to see you have relatives that read your blog. I know that must feel good.
    I tried this running stuff and still attempt it. My buddy weighed around 240lbs and after just a year or so he is around 150 or so. I was amazed at his pictures.
    My wife and I like hiking and road biking. So what ever keeps you active and fit. I am 50 and she is ….. not yet.
    Enjoyed your blog

    Stay Joint Pain Free My Friends
    Mark
    From http://jointpainremedyreviews.com

  28. great work.. keep updated

  29. Running is such a great way to re-focus your energy. I feel worlds better after a run and some fresh air.

  30. Pingback: Run! « tida's blog

  31. Love this piece. Running dissolves stress…. nature dissolves stress. Not only do your thighs and heart love you for your efforts, but they’re free to boot! Kudos!

  32. Running does relieve stress. I don’t run, since I never have time to and I get means of exercise done other ways, but the few times I’ve gone out jogging have been wonderful. It felt good and I ended up in a much better mood. 🙂

  33. Great post! I can relate.
    Running always lightens my mood. The days I do not run (or go on the elliptical), I feel off. I’m addicted.
    Running in the wilderness sounds so peaceful. I prefer music, or running with someone else. It helps keeps that pumped up feeling.

  34. I like to run, it makes me stronger and good health

  35. I agree on the stress relief of a good run…particularly a run through nature. I’m a new runner and recently blogged about a day on the bunny trail:
    http://delanasworld.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/hit-the-bunny-trail/
    Blessings!
    Delana

  36. Love this! Someone once told me “running is free therapy”, I now understand that statement and couldnt agree more! ❤ Thank you for sharing!

  37. cool!!! i wish that i am as disciplined as you… keep it up. =P

    http://travellersdiningdepot.wordpress.com/

  38. I walk and then blog – or should be blog and then walk? The clarity of mind after physical exercise is cleansing; Also living i a small town where the birds acually talk to each other, strangers wave, and the sounds of asphalt ring when Nikes pound the payment – thanks fo enabling me to verbalize what happens in the mornings

    • minnesotatransplant

      Definitely walk and then blog. Sometimes I toss blog ideas around when I run, and I know they’re better when I get home!

  39. Loved this article. We are so blessed to be able to run and get out into the beautiful world. Very inspirational – thanks for sharing!

  40. Anyone wants to go for a run with me?

  41. I love this! You’re a great writer and I completely agree – I love running because it’s the only time I feel complete solitude.

  42. I do my best blogging on a quiet bike ride – I’ve written many great posts in my head that way. The problem is I can’t always remember them when I get home.

    Congratulations on being FP’d.

  43. “listened to the wind in the trees and counted my blessings.”

    Wonderfully put … glad you have running – for stressful days and for regular days. for me .. it’s cooking 🙂

    Congrats on Fresh Pressed; so deserving! MJ

  44. Definitely love the runs when you can take the time to simply enjoy it for what it is. I run for exercise and during the week I am usually pressed for time and have to do it before I take a quick shower and run out the door, but when I can take the extra moment to marvel at the view atop a hill in Santiago, Chile (where I live now) it can be the highlight of the week.

  45. P.S. I am also a former Minnesotan. 🙂

  46. Hope i could find time to run and feel the wind, see the view.
    Life can be so dragging that i need some “me” time to reflect over things.

  47. I need to look to you for inspiration on how to deal with stress! Stay fit and relieve stress at the same time. I, unfortunately, chain-smoke and hyperventilate when things get to me.

    • minnesotatransplant

      I know and love some people who use smoking as a stress releaser. I have not doubt that it works, but the long-term effects aren’t so nice. I wish you good luck in finding new ways to cope!

  48. I wish I had the problem. I find it hard to get the motivation to run, or any other exercise for that matter. Great story though. The book club sounded like a good idea. I’m like you, I can’t eat when I get upset. maybe that’s when I should at least go for a walk.

  49. A good workout makes everything better. And I so agree, the days I don’t exercise….its like an itch……

  50. My son, @drewhawkins has been a runner since his seventh grade year and he is now 24. I know he has said many times that running is the best thing to clear your head and collect your thoughts. He has worked out all sorts of situations and problems on a long hard run.

  51. I remember when I walked five miles a day at night and I had so much more energy now I don’t do it because of the area I live in is not safe. I miss it so much.

  52. Yes, great post-i think there’s many who can relate
    I discovered running when I wanted to challenge myself and I am hooked. It’s such a metaphor for life…the uphills, and the downhills…pacing yourself…clearing your mind.

    Doing my first 1/2 marathon in November!

  53. I totally relate to the need to run just to calm the thoughts floating around in my head! I live in MN, and I have just begun to run in the last 2 months. I love it so much, I can’t wait to figure out how to do it in the cold weather. Thanks for posting!

  54. I still consider myself a novice runner – logging in under six miles per week, and increasing my speed little by little, when my knees give their permission to do so. My runs are therapy – better for my peace of mind, weight and stress levels than any couch could ever be.

    Thank you for this article.
    Vicki

  55. Pingback: 2010, examined | Minnesota Transplant

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