Strong For Too Long

Managing Depression & Anxiety

Will ParkRun help my anxiety & depression? Will ParkRun help my anxiety & depression?
On some days I struggle to get out of bed before 5pm, other days I stay up all night until the alarm clock goes... Will ParkRun help my anxiety & depression?

On some days I struggle to get out of bed before 5pm, other days I stay up all night until the alarm clock goes off and then fall asleep. Its a routine that desperately needs to change and isn’t being helped by late night baths, late night reading or even sleeping pills. The reality is I’m just not tired when it comes to bed time, and my brain starts its consistent dialog and expects me to listen, participate and worry with it instead of giving me the rest I crave.

I heard about ParkRun from my brother who has attended a few, he was always the best runner of the family and its great to see him  back doing it – on the other hand I would only do cross-country reluctantly at school as it meant I could get away with missing rugby. I tended to walk the course, picking up pace if a tutor came by, or if the weather was really bad we would hide under the bridge smoking until everyone else came back and then join the group for the final few hundred meters.

So given that I am unfit, suffer from anxiety made worse in social situations (especially new ones) and severe depression, and I have Asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and am awaiting confirmation of an M.E diagnosis – is running a 5k really the smartest thing I could be doing right now?

Why I’m Going To Run

I need a goal. For me to succeed with most things I need a goal that I can work towards. With the goal in place I can step back and plan how I can give myself the best chance of achieving it. But I could pick any goal right? There is a strong chance I wont be able to finish on my first attempt, and whilst I’m not particularly hoping that will happen I have to plan for the negative effect it could have on my anxiety and depression. I want this to be an exercise in growth and not just another way to put myself down if I fail.

ParkRun isn’t a race as such, and is open to any and everyone, so I wont be joining a queue of athletes and being expected to be able to keep up. I can set the pace and improve over time, building my strength and fitness at the same time as meeting new goals each time.

It’s also held weekly, and relatively close to me (there may be one organized close to you too) so I can train at home during the week on my treadmill and home gym and then get a great workout in on the Saturday.

Anxiety

I want the race to physically exhaust me, the way it used to at school – that way when I get home I can have a small meal, a shower and when bed time comes around ill be out like a light the second my head hits the pillow. I can keep that process going by dedicating just an hour in the home gym each day as well – and this could be the cure to my sleep problems.

Whilst I dislike sleep for its waste of time, I do understand the value of it, and improving my sleep is something I am taking quite seriously with the Strong For Too Long project – if this exercise regime gives me something I can stick to, goals that are achievable, a light introduction to social situations to help curb some of my anxiety then its win win win.

If you signed up for Park Run tell me about it. You can tweet me @strong4toolong

Sam Fields Editor

Writer and designer for Strong For Too Long. Sam has fifteen years experience managing severe Depression & Anxiety and writes about it to help others. Interests include reading, astronomy and engineering.

  • Peter

    21st May 2016 #1 Author

    It’s helped me by giving me a goal and also being around people on the run , I still suffer with anxiety and depression, but it does give me a good reason to get out there even on the days when I feel sick with anxiety, my advice is go for it🏃

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