‘Run­ning is not al­ways a straight line’ Six tips for anx­ious run­ners

The Guardian - Weekend - - Experience -

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).

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