Fight or Flight – harnessing my natural reaction

If I sit down and truly think about it, my natural reaction to a lot of things is to book it. Run away. Facing a buildup of work at the job? Better surf the internet. Hanging out in a social setting? Better get too drunk. Crossing paths with a girl I might be interested in? Better avoid eye contact and head in the opposite direction. Body image issues? Better raid the fridge. Feeling unaccomplished in life? Better turn on the TV, maybe a video game.

Too often this natural response of fight or flight comes up in situations where it is unwarranted, and most of all, unwelcome. I don’t like feeling like I need to eject out of a get together with friends. That’s not pleasant. So I got to thinking, if my body/mind wants to run so badly so often, why not harness that feeling? Why not hit the pavement for real? Strap up the shoes and get the body moving?

Running is something that I enjoy doing, but most importantly, it’s what is best for me. It clears my head, almost giving me a 24 hour reset on my mindset, injecting positivity and energy into a place where negativity and apathy dwell. Running is ideal if I’m serious about getting my life together, focusing on being the best me. For instance, I have a piss poor self image, especially concerning my weight/looks. Now, most will tell me that this is unreasonable, and I shouldn’t feel this way. I just smile and say thanks, knowing that I shouldn’t feel the way I do about a lot of things. My brain is a little fucky.

Say self esteem is a quantifiable number that tops out at 100 – shit don’t stink status. I don’t think I’m too far off to say my number currently hovers at the 25-30 range. A good 50 of those missing points I’d say I attribute to my body image issues. That’s how much importance I put on my image, no matter how vain it may be. I keep thinking that everything would work out if I could just shed 30 pounds. Reasonable? Of course not, and I hope to fix that mindset, otherwise I’ll never be happy with myself at any weight. What’s a better way to solve that than running daily – attempting weight loss while clearing my head of the muck?

I want to feel the way about running as I do showering. Sure, I’ll be lazy a day, maybe too tired to take a shower or just never get around to it. Not that big of a deal. However, I’ll start to feel uneasy if I miss 2 or 3 days, getting this “unclean” feeling and wanting to scrub it off of me. That is what I want with running. To go into automatic “lace up” mode if I dare to go more than a day or two without running. Not feeling right until I’ve exercised myself.

I recently completed a half marathon after some decent training. Was putting in at least 20-30 miles a week, tapering off the week of and actually finishing the 13.1 miles, non stop. This felt good, great even, and I couldn’t wait to start training for the full. Then I didn’t run for 2 weeks. Half marathon hangover? I’m not sure what it was, but I finally got back into the swing of it over the past couple of days. It was actually my last run where I realized that this natural tendency for me to run away from life has to be harnessed for my benefit. I also came up with the shower analogy. Often some nugget of enlightenment will come to me while running. My mind wanders, but ideas come through loud and clear. Just another reason why I need to stick with it.

Running is the single best thing I can do for my mental and physical health. Why I even pretend otherwise is a bit silly. Next time I don’t feel like hitting the road, I’ll have to ask myself whether Netflix/internet/whatever distraction is worth missing out on a day of mental clarity and positive energy. It never really is. Life’s distractions will always be there, but my run won’t wait for me forever.

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