by Krista Zwart
We run this town. Running out of time. Running in circles. In the long run. Make a run for it. There are as many idioms and expressions that contain the verb to run as I have emotions for literally doing it. People often ask me why I do it, and each time I’ll give a different answer. The main reason for me though, is mostly for peace of mind. Some people need to smoke weed to relax or calm down, I need a runner’s high.
July 3rd would be a perfect example. I was working in a hostel on an island in Croatia, and that evening I felt like society was closing in on me, something like social claustrophobia. It started with trying to make sense of an awkward situation with this guy. I didn’t know what was going on, freaked out, and made a mess of things, like usual. Then I had to work a BBQ that night, entertain and clean up after roughly forty people, while also avoiding said guy. Basically, my night just spiraled into an overwhelming social disaster in which I really would have loved to have hidden from everyone, but unfortunately, I had to keep working. I had already made up my mind that I needed to go for a stress run as soon as my shift ended, and was desperately stalking the clock, as if 10pm was the opening gate that would release me into the wild. My breaking point was when a nosy coworker came barreling towards me wanting to know what had happened between me and awkward situation guy. I just about jumped out of my skin, turned on my heels, and literally ran away.
Image from: Craig Thomas, www.activeconsultancy.com
You have no idea how liberating that run was. I ran down the hill, through the city center, and up another hill on the opposite side of the city, towards this fort that sat overlooking the rocky cliffs and sparkling sea. My whole body was on fire as I pounded up the hill. It was screaming at me, much in the same way that my social anxiety had been screaming at me all night. Essentially, running is how I physically express emotions that cause me trouble. It’s like it organizes my thoughts, streamlines them so I can only think about getting rid of these feelings, and clears my mind so I can gain some perspective. Running up the hill also serves as a metaphoric example of getting over it.
At the top of the hill, I could see the hostel, the clubs, the lit-up streets, and the colorful reflections in the water. Everything seemed smaller and further away. And suddenly I was calmer, had a clearer mind, and some distance between me and my bothersome environment. And now I could enjoy a beautiful view at the top of the world, in the silence of the trees behind me.
I started running seven years ago because I wanted to join the high school cross-country team the following year. And since then I have discovered many more reasons to continue, stress relief being just one of them. Another reason why I love running is because of the feeling of having someone by your side, going through the same thing as you, which is why Emma and I started the UCR running team.
So the next time someone asks me why I like to run, I can just print out this article and tell them to read it. Or I can invite them on a run with me and they can watch me physically work through my freak outs. But on a more serious note, running helps me deal with whatever is going on in my life, and that’s why I so fervently advertise it to others. If it helps me, it could help someone else.
Krista Zwart, Class of 2018, is an Anthropology and Political Science major from Southern California. She also co-coaches the Roosevelt Runners, and is really just using this as a recruitment tactic.
Featured Image Source: Intraining Running Centre