January 6th 2020
Today I decided to go for a run. I’ve not done that since October 22nd of last year. My break was partly due to a (self-diagnosed) fractured ankle, but partly because I don’t run when I’m feeling sad. Well, it’s hard to tell whether it’s that I don’t run when I’m sad, or if not running makes me feel sad. It’s well documented that exercise — particularly running — is beneficial for your mental health, and I’ve struggled a bit on both of those fronts over the last few months.
I track my runs with a tool called Strava, and an unintentional function of Strava is that it doubles up as a great mental health checker. If you look at my training calendar for 2019 you can see the exact peaks and troughs of when I’m happy and when I’m sad:
The blue lines are activities per week, I think. You can see that in the first three months I was feeling great. I was running a lot, with consistency, and what it doesn’t show is that I broke my personal record times for both 5k and half marathon distances. I was running great and feeling great. That sort of continued for the rest of the first half of the year, and then you can see it took a nosedive after June. I only ran five times in the second half of the year.
That graph pretty much aligns with the peaks and troughs of my general feelings this year. I had a brief spell around September/October where I was genuinely loving my life — so much so that I even went for a few runs again, though not with the consistency that I had done so previously. I think I even wrote a few blog posts about how good life was. And it was! And on the face of it life still isn’t bad, I’ve just felt a bit rough for a couple months. And so I’ve not run. Or maybe not running contributed to feeling rough, and it’s all just a vicious cycle.
Either way, today I ran. And it was enjoyable. And I’m so glad I did it.
Until tomorrow, I think my brain needs it more than my legs do.