Running for Depression

Depression is the leading cause of disability for persons between the ages of 15 and 44 in the United States. There have been many theories and studies done on why this may be, but regardless of the cause, scientists agree that working out, specifically aerobic exercises that strengthen the cardiovascular system and build muscle help ease and, in certain cases, dispel the effects of this disease. Depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. The symptoms can range from sadness to lack of interest, feelings of emptiness, irritation, restlessness and many more.


Although it has been long known to runners that long distance running can alter mood and increase the amount of endorphins released throughout the body, in recent years a new phenomenon has been studied which links long distance running to the creation of new neurons. A neuron is a cell that transmits electric signals throughout the brain and spinal cord. It was once scientific fact that new neurons were never created after childhood, but recent studies have shown otherwise. This is especially true in the part of the brain called the hippocampus, which controls memory and learning. This has been directly linked to less reaction to stress and anxiety. From this, we can see that running long distances can improve mood and cause an increase in neurons in endorphins.


Furthermore, it has been shown that running has the same effect on the brain as cognitive therapy for people with Major Depression. The US as a country spends 25 billion dollars a year (2008) on antidepressants. There are approximately 318.9 million people in the United States. That means there is about $78.40 for every person in the United States. That $78 is enough to buy this cute little number from Lululemon:
Or, you can purchase these COOL running shoes:—Mens/222070/Product

So, put down the Zoloft and pick up some running shoes. Run a mile, or two, or twenty six. You won’t regret it.

Reactions To This Class

When I say that I’m taking this class, people’s eyebrows are the most intriguing thing. They either go up together, one goes up, or they furrow and here are the three translations for all three reactions.

Go Up Together: Wow! This is really intriguing and I would love to learn more or I’m super surprised that that is a class offered here.

One Goes Up: Okay, this girl is clearly deranged, I should back away slowly

Furrow: What the hell is this child doing with her life?! Running? Writing! Say it ain’t so.

These are the three most common reactions I get to this class. I am grateful for all three because they solidify my crazy actions. Yes, taking this class is a risk for me because I tend to be flighty with my health commitments and jump from diet and exercise regime to couch potato and hot pockets as a food group. I feel, however, that no matter how anyone reacts to this, the choice to take this class and run this marathon is mine and solely mine and I am proud of this choice. Yes, people may judge me, but let them judge. They can also judge my shiny hard earned medal after I cross the finish line.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running Review

Murakami does a great job of explaining, in simplest terms, what it is like to be a runner. He breaks down and puts into words the hardest things to explain about running; the feeling you get when running, what goes through your mind when running, etc. This book is easy to relate to because the author’s use of simple words makes the content he is trying to portray understandable. However, I found it hard to keep interest in the novel because Murakami primarily talks about himself. Every other sentence in the book begins with the word “I.” I understand that this is a book about his life experiences with running, but it really turned me off the way he constantly talked about himself. Running is a personal activity during which time you get to know yourself and your body on a much deeper level, but I don’t think it would have hurt Murakami to speak more of not only his experience, but the experience of those closely related to him and affected by his decisions to keep running against the odds. I would like to hear more about his wife, parents, close friends, and others.

He did, however, touch on the community of running, which I think is one of the more important aspects of being a runner, but I think with his very relaxed writing style, he could have easily talked about the community runners build among themselves because of their mutual experiences and challenges. As I read the novel, I felt increasingly jealous of Murakami and how easily running came to him. In one part of the novel, he states that he feels no pain when running, which made me want to stop reading because although this is a memoir, I feel like feeling no pain in the first twenty two miles of a run in utterly impossible. Although his writing style is very relatable, some of his experiences, like the aforementioned, aren’t. For instance, he ran around a building seven times for a grand total of 22 miles and felt nothing, it seems like everything he put his mind to, he conquered. Which, toward the end of the novel was very inspiring, but during the novel, it was frustrating, to me, a new runner.

Also, the fact that he was still a very successful runner after smoking three packs of cigarettes a day, infuriated me. I eat a cheesesteak and I am running it off for a month and a half. As I approached the conclusion of the novel, my jealousy of Murakami’s perfect running body wore off and I was able to catch some of the wisdom he was giving to other runners. I thoroughly enjoyed the last few pages of the novel and found them encouraging, so when I finished reading, I felt like I should go on a run.  I believe I was very bias in reading the book because the author’s personality and character differed heavily from my own. The author is very quiet, to himself, and not competitive whereas I am the loudest, most talkative, social person I know and I thrive off competition. Perhaps because of these differences in personality and style, I did not enjoy this book as much as I could have.

In conclusion, Murakami speaks from experiencing running for 50+ years. I am in my third year of running. As a novice runner, I feel that I have much to learn from this old, wizened author and I am taking away a lot of valuable lessons from the 60 year old Nobel laureate.

Runners Inventory

When I run, I only tend to think about the weaknesses I have. When I run, I feel like a fat sack of potatoes because I’m not running as fast as the others. However, I love endurance. There is just something about putting my all into a task and finishing the task after hours of struggle. I see that as one of my greatest strengths, not just in running but also in life. I tend to pursue everything I want and persevere to the end if it’s not given to me immediately. I don’t think I’ve been running long enough to make an inventory of myself. I hardly feel like a runner because I’ve been on a total of about 5 runs all year. If I were to make an inventory, however, it would only be based on the past running me, which is nowhere near the current running me. The current running me is afraid of this upcoming half marathon. The past running me had nine months of training whereas the current me has one third of the time. However, I aspire to finish. I’m not too worried about time because I’m sure that will be a disaster, but I will be proud knowing that I will have finished my second half marathon. This post is actually giving me a hard time, I can’t seem to think of my hopes and dreams and aspirations. I just want to run. Plain and simple. Primitive. There really isn’t that much to it to me. It helps with my mental health and body image, of course. But to me, it’s just running.

What I need to Run

To run, I need the basics, water, shoes, and a damn good sports bra. Nothing ruins your run like having your titties smack you in the face with every step you take. When I run, I like to have a set plan of where, when, how far, and how quickly I will run. I like to have this structure because it gives me peace of mind while I run so as I’m running, I don’t have to worry about where I will run or what I’m going to do after my run. I also need a lot of motivation. Running, for me is more of a chore, but a chore that makes me better in the end.

Like when you’re young, and you mom says “clean your room” and you mope and groan about it all day and all throughout the chore you’re contemplating how you can run away from this cruel person who makes you clean your room when clearly, controlled chaos is clearly the way you, in all your adolescent authority chose to live your life. When, maybe five or six hours later, you’re finally finished cleaning your room, you love that it is clean. It looks neat and organized and, whether you chose to admit it or not, you’re happy your room is clean. That’s how I feel about running. Before and during the run, all I do is complain and search for a way out of running, but after my run, I feel amazing. There’s a rush that goes through me that is unparalleled by anything that isn’t running.

This is why I need motivation. If my motivation for cleaning my room was I would have a clean room, that wasn’t enough. I needed a bigger reward. With running, these sentiments are paralleled. I want a trophy or something, not the hot smelly sweaty mess called my body that I have to deal with as a result of my pain. I feel like I will learn from these runners highs. I will learn that the runners high is the reward.

Running Schedule

My training regimen plan is very linear, since I made it myself. It starts this week (the week of the 30th of August) and ends a week before the marathon. It’s very basic, with a set number of miles per week ascending in numerical order. So the first week, I run two miles, three times a week on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday.  The next week, I run three miles, the week after that, four, five, six, and so on, until I reach 12. Then I will stop and rest. I feel like I’m cramming for this half marathon because I’m just starting training about three months prior to the event. I made this schedule from my own logic and understanding, not as someone who knows what the body can handle and ho to actually train for a marathon. That being said, I’m pretty wary of my own technique so I have been asking other runners in the SJU community for tips and pointers. One of my friends gave me a two and a half month marathon training crash course that is more detailed and rigorous than my own and I am leaning toward trying his set plan method, over my logical, linear one. I’m hoping my body will take the wear and tear I’m about to inflict upon it for the next few months.