“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t ever be sure whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”
— Haruki Murakami
I have a lot of demons. I know many of you do also as I’ve heard countless stories about how running has helped people deal with the problems in their lives. It’s been true for me in dealing with depression, anxiety, a lack of self-confidence, and countless other issues.
But as much we try, we can’t outrun these demons. That’s because they don’t go away unless we deal with them. They will always be there waiting to rear their ugly heads until we face them. These demons will show up when we least expect it and can ruin our life, our career, and our relationships, including the one with ourselves.
Some of these demons I have are leftover from childhood, some from trying to figure out what being an adult means, and others are from battling with thoughts of who I am. Unfortunately, I also have demons from thoughts of who others think I am. Or who they think I should be. That’s the people-pleaser in me that I need to resolve. I’ve made a ton of mistakes, and those mistakes have not only hurt me but also many around me.
I’ve worked through a lot of my issues over the years but some are still there hiding. I’ve accepted that I will always deal with aspects of my mental health for the rest of my life. It’s a part of me. Many of the lessons I’ve learned the hard way, but sometimes the hardest path is the best one to take.
I think that is why I prefer ultra-marathons over shorter races. The time spent training and running is a break for me. It’s a place for me to rest from the demons of everyday life. I can just run. I don’t have to go back to real life for a while. I don’t have to figure everything out; I don’t have to think about whether I said or did the right thing; I don’t have to be anyone but myself. It’s easy for me to get stuck in the past, worry about the future, and be in all the other places I don’t need to be. But when I’m running, I’m in the moment — something I have difficulty with at all other times.
But I’ve learned running is not a cure for all my issues. It’s one slice of a large pie. I still need to face my problems head-on if I want to heal. That’s why I still go to therapy, do a lot of self-reflection, and am constantly trying to improve myself daily. I also gave myself a break for the mistakes I’ve made. I let myself be a fallible human, and I learned to have self-compassion.
Using only running as a crutch to ignore my demons will never work. They are still there hiding, and I will never outrun my demons. However, I can run toward them and get a little closer. Maybe even catch up to them.
And eventually, if I keep facing them, we will become running partners.
Have you tried to outrun your demons? Have you been successful?