Project Buffy (aka How Exercise Helps My Depression)

Last week I met with my new strength trainer for the first time. Part of me feels like this extra trainer is an extra expense I don’t need, but all my other parts are thanking me for this decision. Yes, even the parts that really hurt, because all those parts fight depression, the kind of depression that feels like the flu, all day every day, for weeks or even months.

This blog is my “running” blog, not my “all about my depression” blog, but my depression is one reason I run, so I’d be Ms. Remiss if I didn’t mention it. I’ve found that most — if not all — ultrarunners I’ve met have some kind of extreme or addiction about them, which running helps tackle. The extremes differ — OCD, weight management, alcoholism, stress — but running is part of the cure or management. In my case, running really shines when it comes to fighting my depression. And my depression gets worse in the winter, with the slide starting in late summer or early fall… meaning, right about now.

So for the past three weeks, I wake up every morning wondering whether I’m getting the flu, except for the mornings in which I wake up and stay in bed for a bit, wondering why I feel like such a bad person. That’s depression for you. Of course, making yourself go run when you feel crappy is no easy feat, even if you know in your head you’ll feel better.

One day last week I woke up feeling guilty and unlikeable, which is why I was in tears when I realized that some friends went running without me, which, when I’m depressed, naturally means, “They don’t really like me. Why would they. I’m difficult and unpleasant and a completely horrible friend with no redeeming qualities, and they are dumping me just like the Mean Girls did.” Yes, it sounds crazy [and kind of pathetic if you read it in an Eeyore voice], but if you’ve ever been depressed, you can probably relate.

So simply hiring a strength training coach didn’t fix everything, and I still have to make myself get out there and put a foot in front of the other, which is exactly what I did on Saturday, for 21.5 miles. Eight of those miles were with Bryan W., and the rest were me flying running solo. They weren’t the fastest or funnest miles, because my left foot is still bruised from the Hawk Hundred marathon, but the miles are behind me now, as are the 5.5 hours I had to think about things out there on the trails.

And my thinks can get pretty crazy sometimes. I caught myself enjoying the gorgeous Kansas trails and ideal fall weather, feeling smug about mastering the farmer’s blow, and thinking, “I might like to go camping.”

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