Running. Is. Not. Therapy.

If there’s one phrase that drives me crazier than any other (oh jk, it’s so hard to narrow them down, but for the purposes of this blog…), it’s this one:

Can you achieve mental clarity on a run? Sure.

Can you distract yourself from your problems for a bit? Which also, by the way, is totally valid. Yes.

Can you gain confidence by pushing yourself to do things you never thought you could? Totally.

But running is not the same as sitting down and talking through your problems (including when those problems are created by your brain, not your real life) and finding solutions.

I’ve gotten laid off twice. Both of those summers, I was training for marathons. Running didn’t help me find a job (OK, maybe totally indirectly but that’s really more the blog than running); running didn’t help with my feelings of professional inadequacy and doom that I’d never find a job.

I was training for a marathon during my first serious bout with anxiety. Running didn’t solve what was making me feel anxious and overwhelmed (and honestly, probably, at the time was contributing to some of the anxiety.)

Running won’t cure my mom’s cancer, but if it would, I would run for as long as I could. 

Running won’t find me a boyfriend (or will it???) or get me a raise at work

But running sure as hell will give me a rush of endorphins, or at the least, make me feel not quite as bad.

Running gives me the power of knowing that if I run first thing in the morning, no matter what else happens that day, I ran. I did something for myself that I enjoy and I didn’t have to wait all day for the highlight of my day.

Running gives me a healthy way to be social, killing two birds with one stone.

As someone who’s dealt with mental health issues and believes fiercely in talking about it and shattering the stigma, I just fear that “running is therapy” or “running is cheaper than therapy” sends a message that therapy is not OK. Someone who might be on the fence and hear someone else boast that they don’t need it could feel that they’re weak if they need/want therapy, and it’s the opposite of that, since it takes strengths to admit to your faults and problems.




Some mental health resources:

National Suicide Prevention Hotline (it’s important to note they also have online chat)

NYC Well Offers free, short-term counseling/peer support and assistance in finding other mental health services (also includes text/online chat)

Psychology Today Find a Therapist You can search by insurance, issues, modality of therapy (I’ve personally always done CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy because it’s very solutions-oriented, and, New Yorker here.)

Here’s amazing crowd-sourced Google Doc of therapists in NYC/Chicago/SF

And of course, you can always check through your health insurance, or many employers have an EAP (Employee Assistance Program) to help you find/access the services.