The Journey – 454.0 Miles:
The A2B Route continued though the Mount Wilson Wilderness Area. In spite of the remoteness and roughness of the area, today’s run afforded some beautiful views of the Colorado River. Occasionally, small herds of big horn sheep could be seen moving across the rocky terrain of the desert mountains with amazing speed and agility.
When I woke up, I checked the weather. What I found was wind! Lots of it!!
Running with wind can be tricky. When it’s at your back, the wind can be your best friend. But then you can turn a corner and the same wind meets you head on. When that happens, I spread my arms and pretend that I am an airplane! Childish, perhaps. But it works for me!
I managed to skirt the dry heaves that I experienced earlier. Twice I felt them coming on. Each time, I backed off my pace only slightly. Just enough to take the edge off. I also picked some object in the distance ahead of me. I focused on it intensely. After about a minute, the feeling would pass. I then jumped back into the standard pace for today’s run.
While running, I remembered part of a conversation that I had with my new doctor during my annual physical. He asked if I ever experienced stress. I answered that at times, I might consider the word “stress” to be a one word biography. He thought that was funny. (I was glad to find out that my doctor has a sense of humor.) He then asked how I deal with stress. I told him that, for me, the best ways to deal with stress are through laughter, music, and running. He said that all three, but especially the running, are better than Xanax or anything else a doctor could prescribe. Interesting!
I thought about why exercise is so effective at reducing stress.
It is no secret that physical activity can decrease stress hormones and increase endorphins. The mood lift that comes from a runner’s high is nothing less than just awesome! Also, a consistent exercise routine increases stress resiliency!
Exercise offers a distraction from the causes of stress. A solid workout can shift mental and emotional energy away from the sources of stress. For many, this is a great time for quiet meditation. I often tell people that running is my Zen time.
Another stress relieving aspect of regular exercise is the social interaction that often occurs before, during, and after a run or a workout.
Next, as a person becomes fit, they often start to look really good in the mirror. Though a longer term approach, this indeed does a lot to help people resist or overcome stress. People quickly forget about the weight on their shoulders when they realize that their clothes are now too big.
Finally, there is fitness itself. With good health comes greater strength and immunity. Such a person is much better prepared and equipped to deal with the weightier matters of life when they appear.
As I finished my run, I recalled my doctor mentioning that physical activity is one the best ways to deal with stress because you are actually doing something. You are breathing and moving. A rigorous workout stimulates your mind and all of your senses. Afterwards, you are in a much better state to tackle or work through the source of your stress.
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