‘Running is not always a straight line’ Six tips for anxious runners
Take water Most experts say you don’t need to, on short runs, but it might help if you get panicky and need to stop. Take sips, wait for your breathing to get back to normal. I have a bottle that moulds to my hand and makes me feel I’m carrying a neon weapon. Podcasts and music help They distract me when I get bored, or tired. More importantly, at the beginning, they made my brain concentrate on something other than worry.
Start small If leaving your safe places makes you feel vulnerable, do a loop of your road. Run that road until you feel confident you can go to the next one. It all counts, and it’s important you don’t push yourself too fast. Listen to your body. Nobody is looking at you Running feels incredibly exposing, overwhelming and scary to begin with. I assumed people would mock me, honk from vans. But nobody batted an eyelid. I fell over at the feet of a man on the canal path and he carried on eating his sandwich. Enjoy the beauty around you Your anxiety can make you introverted, forcing your brain to see negative, scary things instead of your surroundings. Nearly every time
I go for a run, I stop to take a longer look at a building, a poster, a sunset. My phone is full of photos of weird street names, beautiful views, and dogs I see along the way.
Be kind to yourself Buy an ice-cream after a run; have a glass of wine. Never berate yourself if you have a panic attack and need to go home abruptly. Running is not always a straight line (that would be boring).