How Running Changed My Life

This post is in partnerships with subconscious.org.


I’ve always been a runner at heart even if sometimes life has had other plans. I’ve been drawn to running since my youth but as an adult I’ve had an on-and-off relationship with running. Although I’ve gone through phases of running on my treadmill, after our big move last year I started exploring our local urban trail. In January of this year I started running outdoors again semi-regularly and after some encouragement from a friend in March I really started to step it up, this time for hopefully the rest of my life. Today I’ve partnered with Subconscious.org, a local non-profit that is fighting the mental health stigma, to share the story of how running changed my life for the better.

1. It brings back good childhood memories.
Do you remember being a child and running through the park or field? The sense of freedom you felt at the time was peaceful and energizing all at the same time. As a child my favorite sport to participate in was the track team where I ran the 100m and 400m sprints, as well as being on the 4×4 and 4×1 relay teams. I also held the record for the fastest female mile time throughout middle school, so needless to say, running was my jam. As an adult I’m a firm believer that my favorite fitness activities (running and ballet) are directly related to what I enjoyed most as a child.

2. I’ve seen an improvement in my overall health.
Living with a lifelong health condition means that taking care of my physical health isn’t easy. Being active helps me mitigate a lot of the symptoms that cause me grief. Other health benefits to running can include weight loss, improved cardiovascular performance, improved lung capacity, muscle gain, and an increased metabolism. I personally have experienced some weight loss, although it was balanced back out by muscle gain, and my energy levels are doing so well despite giving up coffee in May.

3. I feel so much more confident now.
My self confidence has improved so much since I began running. I feel like I can set goals and accomplish them which is a big step for someone who has been as timid as I have for most of my adult life. I’ve ran in 3 races, placing 137th in my division for a 6-mile, 71st in my division for a half marathon, and 2nd in my division for a 5k. Being outgoing and active in the running community also means that I’ve made so many new friends, and found better friends in my current circles because we have running in common. I have 2 more races coming up this year, and I love signing up for them simply to keep me on my toes and actively training.

4. My mental health has improved greatly.
Having Poly-cystic Ovarian Syndrome means that I often experience cycles of anxiety and depression. It’s not fun but I’ve found it more manageable when I’m eating healthy and especially running. The repetitive motion is soothing and helps me clear my mind of any stress I’m carrying. The outdoors are calming, so I run outside as often as possible. Since the cause is near and dear to my heart, and since I’m running in the race I’ve teamed up with Subconscious to help promote their Race Against the Stigma 5K in San Francisco. Details and a special sign up discount are below!

5. Running travels well.
I can run anywhere, anytime I need to as long as I have my shoes. I’ve run everywhere from trails in Tahoe, treadmills in Puerto Vallarta, and through the streets of San Francisco. Every location is a new adventure and it’s a great way to see a new place. My favorite time to run is usually at the most beautiful time of day, sunrise, and who doesn’t love a good sunrise?

Quick tips for being successful with running:

  • The best way to start? Put one foot in front of the other. It’s that easy!
  • Put it on the calendar so you’re not tempted to skip out. You need to make time for it.
  • Invest in good shoes, they don’t have to be expensive but should be suited for your running style.
  • Find a partner, running can be funner and more motivating if you run together.
  • Sign up for a race. Start with a 5k if you’re nervous, but it will give you a goal to strive for.

Will you join me for a race in San Francisco?

Race Against the Stigma 5K Details:

Sunday, September 16, 2018, 2PM – 5PM
Crissy Field, San Francisco, California

All abilities welcome, walking is ok too! All tickets include a spot for the 5k, Subconscious t-shirt, sports bag, healthy snacks, 20% discount at Sports Basement, and a raffle ticket. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to fund mental health research at the UCSF Department of Psychiatry and the Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute. Prizes will be awarded to the top male and female who finish first.

Receive a special discounted ticket if you use the code “HEJDOLL”.

Sign up for Race Against the Stigma 5K here!

Are you a runner? Have you ever been into running? Would you like to be?

This post is in partnership with Subconscious, a non-profit that is fighting mental health stigma. They believe real stories and perspectives from real writers around the world will change how we think about and talk about mental health. Visit them at subconscious.org to see how they’re changing the conversation.

7 thoughts on “How Running Changed My Life

  1. I have always had a desire to run. I guess I’ve never expressed it because I didn’t think I could do it.

    I never would’ve imagined that you were timid or lacked self-confidence. I definitely could use a boost in the confidence, as well as the need to knock my anxiety on its butt.

    Thanks for the encouragement, Jessica! You are an amazing person.

  2. I am not a runner, I am far from it but I have been running for a couple of months now. The kids challenged us all to a race; half marathon for them, 5K for me. It is hard. Even though I have been running since July, it almost feels like day 1 when I start. And interesting fact is I feel stronger about half way through the run than the beginning. (shouldn’t we be getting more tired?)
    Do I like it? well let’s just say I feel accomplished at the end of a run. Am I stronger, yes, I can say that I am. Friday I ran 4.6 miles; my longest ever. I believe I must be breathing better, my legs must be stronger, but no weight loss, perhaps not even more toned – at least not that I can measure. Will I continue after my 5K race in a month, most likely not. But it will be something I can say I have done.
    My response to Tami Qualls is if it is something you want to do, don’t let anything hold you back. My first few runs were all downhill and mostly walking with a few runs in between. Guess what, my speed is slow. So slow that I almost walk as fast as I run. Walking speed 17 miles per hour, running speed on average 13 miles per hour still. Unless it an all downhill course and I am working on speed than it is a whopping 10 miles per hour.
    So I guess I am saying if a 58 year old woman can start running, and an overweight (145 on a 5’6″ frame), anyone can.
    But Jessica, I am inspired by the inner and outer strength running gives you. I think that is what we all need, whether it is running or something else – something that builds and guides our inner and outer strength.

  3. Not a runner, but not opposed to one day starting… I think I can walk faster than the running I’ve attempted. :/ Crissy Field is a popular spot for these 5Ks! Best of luck next weekend!

    1. You can get there! I started with walking, then walking faster, then jogging every now and then while walking, to eventually just jogging and running. Thanks, I’ll do my best! 🙂

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