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Running From Stress on the Track

Running TrackI had a very stressful morning. I’m leaving for Craftsbury, VT on Sunday for two weeks of coaching at the summer running camps. I love the job, but prepping my presentations has been time consuming, and as a homebody I generally get stressed when I have to leave my family for long periods of time. This is typical for me any time I have to travel – I stress until I get to my destination, but I always settle and have a blast whenever I get where I’m going.

Anyway, prepping for the trip, a bit of a chaotic summer schedule so far, and more clinic clients than usual the past few weeks has made it tough to get in solid blocks of time to write posts for the blog. Time management has been my biggest challenge since becoming a full-time blogger.

My goal this morning was to edit and publish a guest review by David Henry (Skechers GoMeb Speed 2), but when I booted up my blogging computer I was greeted by a blue screen of death. The old machine has been giving me trouble the past week since I interrupted a Windows Update (bad!!!). I couldn’t revive it, and resigned myself to the fact that I would need to re-install the operating system. Nothing quite gets my blood boiling as much as a non-cooperative computer when I need to get something done. That put me over the edge, and the air pressure and humidity (crazy storms up here!) weren’t helping.

My body had become a toxic stew of stress, and I got to the point where I started questioning my decision to become a blogger. It was totally irrational (everything has been going quite will since I resigned from my job as a college professor), but that’s how my brain works when I get acutely stressed. My wife came home from teaching yoga to my little breakdown, and I’m kind of ashamed that I shattered her zen with my mess. But she’s been with me long enough to know how to ride these waves.

I was going to do a long run when she got home, but the storms made me wary of getting caught far from home in a downpour. I opted instead to head to the track, and I’m glad I did. I think running long and slow would have allowed me to stew some more, but the track allowed me to cut loose and focus solely on speed. I did a three mile warm-up and then 12×400 at 5K pace with 200m rest between reps. I felt strong the entire way, and could feel the stress melt as I progressed. Running fast requires concentration, and there’s not a lot of room for crazy thoughts. It was a great workout.

I came home a sweaty mess, but felt immeasurably better. I’m happy to say that I’m writing this on the computer that was non-functional this morning, a fresh install of windows did the trick. The bonus is that wiping it allowed me to clear out about 4 years of digital clutter (fortunately I regularly back up the important stuff), and it’s now running a lot faster. The negative is that now I can’t justify buying a new machine to my wife, but I suppose saving money is saving money (I know somebody is going to tell me I need a Mac….).

So I guess the point here, aside from the fact that I just needed to vent a bit, is that sometimes when you think life is throwing everything it has at you, just go for a good hard run and burn away the stress. It almost always works for me, how about you?

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About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.

Comments

  1. You don’t need a mac. Hope that helps!

  2. Yeah, but you might need a Big Mac with cheese, fries, and choc shake after such a good work out Pete! :) Wish you the best at the running camps!

  3. Nate Nguyen says:

    This is a great little post. Running hard especially with a team throws away all the superficial problems in my life. It helps me calm down and focus on the right thing. Whenever I have something big coming up I always take a run to calm the nerves. I hope you never giving up blogging. I read them constantly and always look forward to more!

  4. Almost!

    I went for a run the other day where I hadn’t planned my route enough – I ended up stopping, starting, stopping, starting. In the end I got home and felt frustrated.

    A solid 5km feels better than a broken up 10km sometimes.

  5. I find the the same thing about the track. At least once a week I run the interval workout in my Garmin on a track. When it beeps I go and stop when it tells me. I think less about stuff and I can totally focus on the run, how I feel, and form. It separates me from the day in a way the mindfulness meditation can.

  6. Right on, Steve! :-)

    @ Peter, all the best to you at the running camp! Have a blast!

  7. Windows is a disease. Linux is the Cure
    Yes – being a Linux/Unix administrator, I’m somewhat biased, but truly you can do much better than windows.
    If you’re a technophobe and have the $$ – go with a Mac.
    Anything but the malware known as Windows.

  8. > and resigned myself to the fact that I would need to re-install the operating system.

    You can try to use system repair from the installation DVD first, no need to nuke the whole computer if not necessary.

  9. It’s funny how a big spike in physical stress can short circuit mental/emotional stress – you pick out the key point is that total focus on the activity so there is no room for other thoughts is probably why it works so well.

    If find technical trail running a good means of encouraging total focus on the moment, running with minimal footwear on stony trails is also another way to up the amount of focus required.

    Getting out in nature, through woodlands, seeing wildlife, or to top of local hill to see the wide vistas is another way to assault the senses in a truly positive way.

    As for computers… yep they can drive you round the bend, never more so when you need them to work flawlessly and don’t have time to fix them. My wife banded me from using Windows as it’d get to grumpy with it – all our computers/phones all use Linux these days.

    Even being Windows free for over a decade doesn’t cure all computer woes, hardware and software still go wrong from time to time, and you can’t fix what’s beyond your router. For these times patience and an outlet like running helps immensely.

  10. New Mac? If you’re working with web published text, you can probably get by with a $200 Chromebook.

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