Anxiety on the run...
May 22, 2012 8:54 PM Subscribe
I have anxiety. I've recently started running. While I'm running, I have occasional anxiety spikes, some of which get close to panic attack territory. Help?
posted by naturalog to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
A (more athletic) friend and I recently started doing Couch to 5k together, mostly to see if running would help strengthen muscles that would help my plantar fasciitis (which I've had since around age 8 and which is now almost entirely under control thanks to custom orthotics). We run on a multi-use path near my house. I'm 22, female, relatively fit, and have been diagnosed with generalized and chronic anxiety at various points in my life. I'm medicated and see a therapist.
Running in public makes me feel a little anxious anyways, because I feel like everyone is looking at me and judging me, especially the more competent runners. I also constantly feel bad because I feel like I'm holding my friend back when I have trouble completing one of the intervals. Running with him definitely helps -- aside from the fact that he holds me accountable to make sure I keep doing this, having him with me definitely makes me feel better about things most of the time. He's also really really supportive and aware of my anxiety issues.
While I'm running, my anxiety levels are usually only a little higher than usual, but once or twice a run, my anxiety will suddenly spike and I just want to go and hide somewhere. Sometimes (but not always) this also has physiological consequences -- breathing gets harder, muscles seize up, et cetera.
I kind of like running (or, at least, I don't dislike it), but I really really don't like the changes in my anxiety levels that happen while I'm running. I also think that my anxiety is making it harder for me to consistently run with good form and run as well as I could be running. Any advice on how to make myself calm down about this, both before and during my runs?