On a whim and while struggling with the challenge of finishing my doctoral dissertation, I purchased a flask with the following quote engraved on its leather sleeve: “The problem with jogging is that the ice falls out of your glass.” I thought that was quite a hoot given my current state of mind and long-held belief that running could never be something I would enjoy. The notion of running for fun also contradicted my memories of eighth grade and running suicides in the Moore Junior High School gym.
Now three years post doctorate, and I confidently identify as a runner. In my last post, I Thought There Would Be A Parade, I discussed my thoughts on making the transition to my professional life in psychology. It was during this time I agreed to join fellow APA colleagues to run a local 5K race. Up to that point, my training consisted of making a slow run between my home and the nearest Metro station (approximately 1 mile). Much to my surprise, I made it through the 3.1 miles in under 33 minutes. In addition to sharing photos of the new “sporty” me on Facebook, I discovered how much I actually enjoyed running. I signed up for more races, improving my time, increasing the mileage, and attempting high altitude trail races; even placing in my gender and age group.
Beyond finding a new activity in my post-doctoral world, I found running afforded me a thrice-weekly escape from the racing (pardon the pun) thoughts and anxieties I’ve always battled. My escapes also provided a treatment to my obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD); a therapy complement supported by the literature. In my personal view, the benefits have been noticeable both personally and professionally by minimizing many of the interfering thoughts I can experience.
There are certain conditions in which I run: Pavement and track running necessitates music (typically EDM, high energy pop, and yes, Ms. Taylor Swift); trail runs are done without music so I can focus on the uneven path and enjoy the solitude of the outdoors; and treadmills are a last option when weather is uncooperative. Running has also strengthened my connections with friends and colleagues who are runners. Many of my coworkers at APA are also runners and it’s always a treat to see a contingent of staff taking in the annual Ray’s Race at APA Convention organized by the Running Psychologists.
The problem with jogging? I see no problem now even though the flask is still pretty cool!
Running is now a part of my life after psychology grad school. What new activities bring you joy and benefit your mental health in your post-doctoral world?