I won’t let anxiety stop me from going for a run

Before I fall asleep I set the intention to go for a run the next morning. A couple hours later I find myself sitting on the couch, listing enough reasons to leave my running shoes exactly where they are- in the hallway.

It’s too hot outside.

I stood on my feet for nine hours in a row at work yesterday. I should rest.

But the real arguments that keep me from going stem from a feeling of fear.

There might be too many people that will see me.

I look silly because I just started my training and I’m only walking half of the time.

My dad never believed running was a healthy way to get in shape. It was all about diet, once you managed to stop yourself from eating too much sugar, your stamina would grow magically. My dad also didn’t believe in climate change so I realized he wasn’t the best person to take advice from. However, I still used his arguments to tell myself that running would do me no good.

It’s exhausting. It’s exposing. Anyone can see my face turning red and watch the sweat dripping from my forehead. No thanks.

Ironically, I spent money on yoga classes that always took a little too long. I was often frustrated because I paid 60 euros for a subscription and went to a total of zero classes. Whenever I did go, I would share the room with 15 others. 15 faces watching me struggle while planking sideways with a shaking leg in the air.

And then a pandemic made it impossible to go to any yoga school. I stopped biking every day because I didn’t have to go to the office. I started to long for fresh air. There was only one option. Running.

I started on a Sunday at 8 am which turned out to be perfect for my anxiety. The park was almost completely empty. Yet the voices in my head were anything but quiet. It felt like I was being watched by all the residents living around the park. As if they all received an invitation to watch me go for my first run. I imagined them standing in front of their window, some of them using binoculars, recording the total time I was in the park and then hearing a sigh of disappointment.

Running for 5 minutes, can’t you do better?

I felt eyes on me everywhere. My own eyes. I felt eyes looking at my butt that was probably shaking too much. I had eyes on my hand holding my phone because I don’t know anything about running gear or apps or other accessories that make you look cool.

I felt like a loser.

That same week, I put on my shoes again. A friend recommended a training that was a lot better for starters. I avoided the park where all the professional runners would be. I tried to ignore any voices telling me I’m slow, sweaty and… well, what exactly? I already made myself feel like a loser, but it didn’t stop me. And here I am, going out again. I felt proud.

I finally started to see the benefits.

It’s free. It’s quick. It’s relaxing. It’s powerful.

It’s another way to know the voices in my head are wrong. In so many ways.

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