Running and Therapy
Over the last forty years or so, running has increased in popularity in Britain, the US, Australia and other western societies. There is now a whole host of running events that people can take part in, like 5K and 10K races, half marathons, full marathons and even ultra marathons, which are anything over the 26 miles and 385 yards of a full marathon. Paralleling this rise in the general popularity of running is a growth in the number of books about running. The themes emerging from these texts include explorations of why it is that people run, what physical, psychological and emotional benefits they derive from running, and how running has helped them to cope with different life stresses such as bereavement, difficult family relationships, illness, drug addiction and so on.
In his book Eat & Run (2012), ultra marathon champion Scott Jurek tells us how long distance running helped him to cope with an upsetting upbringing as a result of his mother having multiple sclerosis. Billy Isherwood (2009), in Dead Man Running, writes about his struggles with alcoholism due to a brutal childhood at the hands of a violent father. Mark Rowlands (2013: xiv) testifies in his book Running with the Pack, ‘running is a way of understanding what is important or valuable in life’.
When I run this connects me with a deeper knowledge about life; about how to continue to live as well as possible while simultaneously experiencing the many and diverse challenges that life can throw at me and my loved ones. Running allows me to reflect. To reflect is to contemplate; to meditate. According to Haruki Murakami, an author and long distance runner, “If you’re going to while away the years, it’s far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive than in a fog” (Murakami: 2009: 82-83).
Isherwood, B. (2009) Dead Man Running: from alcohol to Atacama Kennoway: Spiderwize
Jurek, S. With Steve Friedman (2012) Eat & Run London: Bloomsbury
Murakami, H. (2009) What I Talk about when I Talk about Running London: Vintage Books
Rowlands, M. (2013) Running with the Pack: thoughts from the road on meaning and mortality London: Grants Publications Ltd