Running Through My Thoughts

Yesterday was my first pre-work run, necessitated by a promotion which bid farewell to long lunches and leisurely runs through the city. Now let’s get one thing straight, I detest running first thing. It takes a few hours for my body to even consider physical exercise when it awakens. If I had a pound for every time I said I was going to jump out of bed and go running, I’d have at least £637. Possible £640.

So it was with some surprise that I found myself awake yesterday before the dreaded alarm klaxon summoned me to the land of the living. I briefly considered ignoring it before steeling my resolve and flinging back the covers. Today was not going to be that day. I was running a 10K if it killed me. Which, given my aversion to morning exercise, was a distinct possibility.

I peeked out the curtains, to be greeted by a damp, grey landscape. Wonderful. I slipped into my running gear which I had optimistically set out the night before. Opening the front door, I was greeted by a brisk breeze which left me in doubt that the next 6.2 miles of my life were not going to being the most joyful experience of my life. But, there was nothing else for it. I tapped my stopwatch and was off.

After the initial shock wore off, I settled into a steady rhythm. It started to rain and gusts of wind forced me to retreat into my thoughts rather than consider the long road ahead. All sorts of thoughts bombarded my mental floodgates. Good thoughts, bad thoughts, unwanted thoughts, thoughts I latched upon and never wanted to let go of, all of them battling for my attention.

Endless images flashed across the internal movie screen playing in my head. Some made me smile, others caused me to cringe and flinch away. Many were regular visitors, others less so; obtrusive and insisting I invite them in for a protracted stay. As I plodded up a hill outside of the village, I wrestled with the internal Pandora’s Box which intermittently seeks to disturb my settled existence.

One step forward, two steps back. Then four steps onwards again. This is OCD. Forever elusive and tantalisingly beyond one’s stretching fingertips. A seductive siren tempting you onto the rocks with its incessant song. A never ending drumbeat, a vice that refuses to lessen its grip on its victim. Pounding, pounding, pounding you into submission.

If you let it, that is. I take my daily medication. I talk to loved ones. I fill my day with productive, positive activities, not allowing it to lay down it’s toxic roots. And I run. I sweat the stinking thinking from my psyche. I purge myself of the poison that is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I embrace the temporary physical pain of distance running. I’m playing the long game. It is worth the suffering.

At the end of the run I felt cleansed and ready for the day ahead. I know the thoughts will return, they always do. But I will be ready for them, armed and waiting. For years I was it’s docile victim, but no more. It snaps, it snarls, it prowls at the edges of my sanity, waiting for the slightest chink, the most fleeting opportunity. I am ever vigilant, I cannot, will not let it prevail.

30 thoughts on “Running Through My Thoughts

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  1. This is the very thing I do when I run. It Reminds me what I run for, why I keep going although many would just give up. I feel like those who live through the darkest times understand…running is good for the body but it is also a symbol of strength and perseverance. It’s a metaphor to life, really. Glad you made it through your run!

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  2. I admire you in many ways. First, I have never suffered OCD and so, while I can’t say I understand, I can empathize and admire you for overcoming. Second, running. I am a total klutz, no athletic ability, can’t breathe after 1/16th of a half mile! Your perseverance and humor are both wonderful. Thanks for running on behalf of us who are too clumsy.

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  3. I’m actually starting to comprehend how physical activity – even at Oh Dark Thirty – resets those gnarly thoughts back to where they belong. I can’t run, but pushing myself out of bed and into a gym? It’s something I wish I’d done for myself a long time ago. Good on you for setting out “flat Stephen” to prompt your run!

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  4. Working out first thing does make me feel cleansed and ready to face the day. I’ve been doing it for so long, that I don’t think I could manage to work out any other time of day now!

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  5. Embrace it (running) Stephen. Probably the thing I miss most in my life is the jogging. Back then I lived in an area of four seasons. My most memorable runs were in winter with a snow cover on the ground and snow flakes kissing my face. But I also relate to the necessary push to get out of bed and do it.❄

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  6. Captivating post. I read it earlier but couldn’t respond because I really don’t understand the beast you battle. But your writing invites me to look at things from a different perspective. Thank you for opening doors and turning on lights. As a morning runner, I encourage you to find the benefits of pre-dawn journeys. Although their arguments are weak and pale compared to a warm bed. Press on, my friend!

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