Running as Therapy

I am an incredibly slow runner. I won’t even share with you my pace; just know that it’s slow but I’m still damn proud of myself for doing it.

Because of this, I have very few friends with whom I can run. But I met with one of them today. She usually runs faster than I do, but is willing to slow it down and run next to me, forgoing her training that day in favor of companionship and the chance to catch up, to log a few miles, whatever the pace.

Because of the weather here, and many other reasons including the fact that we are both busy moms with busy families with busy children who have special needs, we hadn’t run together in a while; but this morning dawned clear and the sun promised to come out and melt the snow that had arrived overnight and still lined the streets.

So despite getting only three hours of sleep last night, and my continued bronchitis, and the slush, we met in our usual parking lot. She waited patiently while I arranged myself. I’m a geek and love my gadgets: my heart rate monitor chest strap and GPS. It was still cold so I needed gloves, ear wrap, etc. My inhaler. My keys. My phone. And, not being a morning person, I am usually running a few minutes late so I scoop all that up and bring it with me out the door, hurriedly putting myself together in the front seat, likely flashing the ambulance crew parked nearby on break. Ah, well.

Finally we got out on the trail, walked a bit to warm up, stretched for a few, and began running.

There’s a phenomenon that occurs with some children who are speech-impaired, like my son: get them moving, and they start talking. Because of that, his speech therapist and occupational or physical therapists would often schedule joint sessions. The OT or PT would toss him a ball, or play a hopping game, the ST would ask questions or engage him in conversation, and his words would flow.

Such a thing happened to us today. Within the first few jogged steps, the talking began. It was my first long run in weeks; I was taking it slowly and intended to only run half an hour, so we had the breath to chat. And chat we did: the words tumbled out of both of us; sometimes we spoke over each other, but still somehow we listened, too. And quickly, we found we were saying the same things. My words were echoing back to me, and we both recognized it in each other.

Yes! That! That is what I’m going through! That is what I’m feeling! That is exactly what happens! And we laughed, thrilled to have our voices heard, our feelings validated. Gradually the need for therapy abated, and the talk turned to other topics; somewhat related to the first but more of a diversion than anticipated. With her, I have no filters, and mid-morning, the area was all but deserted. Just the two of us on the trail, in the sunshine, so there was seldom the need to censor ourselves or hold back in any way. (Though by the way, to the kind lady walking your dog: I’m really sorry for anything you heard. We didn’t see you coming around that corner).

Forty minutes later, longer than I’d hoped, we returned to the start, exhilarated and spent. I don’t think we solved any problems, either one of us. Putting the words to our feelings, identifying the “whys” and “wherefores”– that happened. Which is often what therapy is all about.

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About Kerrie Strong

Years ago, I chose to suppress my creative side in favor of a career (or two, or three) in science. This blog is filled with exercises intended to reverse the atrophy of my right brain. I hope you enjoy my ramblings.
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2 Responses to Running as Therapy

  1. Gwen says:

    It’s amazing the effect a good run can have. I run in solitude with my iPod (generally before the sun comes up), and for me, this is when creativity blossoms. Endless thoughts of story ideas and where to take my current project.

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