Runner's World (UK)
THE AUTHOR ON HOW RUNNING HELPED HER TO MANAGE HER ANXIETY
load of balls. No one is looking at you: everyone’s on their phone.
I DON’T KNOW WHY I WENT BACK FOR A SECOND RUN. Perhaps it’s because for those three minutes I felt a bit less teary, and a bit less focused on what was going on inside my brain. I always say that running is a chance to run away, but you get to come home.
WITH RUNNING, YOU INCREMENTALLY IMPROVE EVERY TIME YOU DO IT. You’re hitting these goals and feeling proud of yourself. And it gives you this sense of independence, which for someone like me, with agoraphobia, I found to be the most mesmerising, intoxicating thing in the whole world.
WHEN I WAS WRITING MY BOOK,
I READ A LOT ABOUT DUALISM: the idea that the mind and body are connected. In the modern world, we’ve separated them: we see our minds as the primary thing to be prized and our bodies as vessels that carry our minds. We forget how much impact the body has on the brain. Running was my way to get my mind out of the driving seat and put my body in control.
BEFORE RUNNING, I WAS THE MOST UNFIT PERSON YOU COULD MEET.
I thought people who exercised were odd. I’d spent gym lessons at school smoking cigarettes. I did no physical exertion until I started to run, aged 30.
RUNNING TAUGHT ME NOT TO BE SCARED OF THINGS. Within a month, I was running through central London on my own, and I hadn’t been there on my own for years. And every time I did it, it enforced the idea that I was fine. I started to do other things that scared me: getting in lifts, going away on my own, trapezing. Now my motto is: if it scares me, I have to do it. I haven’t had a panic attack in six years.
I’M AN ANTI-WELLNESS PROPONENT. I eat ice cream after every run. I drink loads of Diet Coke and wine. I’m a really unhealthy person who runs every day. I’m never training for anything. I’m not a racer; I’m not interested in personal bests. I’m a really crap runner. I do about 12-13km every day, and that sets me up for the rest of the day.