The harm of not running

Today’s journaling prompt was to write down five things I do to harm myself and to talk about what I can do to take better care of myself. It was, like many of these “self-reflection” prompts, a bit hard to look at myself critically. But I did, and what I realised is that one of those harmful things is the most damaging of all – even though the harmful thing is based on non-activity.

That harmful thing? Not running.

The simple act of not running slowly destroys my soul. It destroys my physical and mental health. It wrecks my emotional well-being. It ruins my diet. Yes, the simple act of not running could potentially lead to my downfall.

That sounds pretty melodramatic, I know. But I honestly do believe it’s true.

Of course, for those of you who know I run marathons, you probably think this is completely ridiculous. But the truth is that I rarely train for my races, and when I do train, I don’t train nearly enough. I just get so caught up in my own little world and I push running to the side because I’m too stressed, too tired, too busy, too [enter a million excuses here].

The longer I go without running, the harder is it to lace up my shoes again. And by not running, I am letting the demons that live in my mind take control. And when they take control, I begin to feel useless and worthless and helpless and hopeless.

Over time, I find myself spiralling into this little world where I can’t find the motivation to do anything. I don’t care about my diet. I start believing all of the little voices in my head that tell me I’m not good enough. And then I spiral a little more.

Soon, running isn’t part of my daily routine so I manage to find even more reasons not to do it. I prioritise everything over my running – not acknowledging to myself that if running was a priority, I would be in a better place physically, mentally, and emotionally. By prioritising my running, I am placing myself in a place where I feel invincible!

You see, I know that running helps me focus my mind. I know that it helps me to feel more energised and to sleep better. I know that it makes me feel healthier and happier. And when I’m healthier and happier I am more likely to eat better – and I’m more likely to run more.

Yet I harm myself over and over again by not running.

But what can I do to take better care of myself?

Simple: I can run.

I can leave the office early to go to the gym. I can take time out of my week to prioritise my running – just as I prioritise other things. I can tell myself that it’s OK to walk away from my PhD work for a couple of hours to run. I can tell myself that it’s OK to take a bit of time out every day to run. To run for me. To run for my health. To run for my well-being.

I’ve been really down and miserable for the past few weeks. I’ve been sulky and sad and stressed. I’ve been worried about a million little things. I’ve been letting the negative thoughts enter my mind. And they’ve frightened me.

So tomorrow, I shall run.

My gym bag is packed and ready to go. I will leave the office early tomorrow to go for a run. And I will do so without guilt. After all, without running, I run the risk of great personal harm.

So tomorrow, I shall run. And I will try to remember that it’s OK to prioritise myself. After all, I’ve been threatening to do it for ages now!

[Photo copyright:, used in good faith under their “personal use” clause.]

2 Replies to “The harm of not running”

  1. I know exactly what you mean. I call my Body Pump class my life saver. And I feel good when I go. I would equate it to your running.

    1. Absolutely! I think most people have something they can equate to it. For some, it will be an active, endorphin-releasing activity, and for others it will be meditation or sewing or whatever.

      Sadly, I’m not yet back to running as often as I should, but I’m getting there!

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