Friday, April 19, 2013

5 Ways For Runners To Cope Right Now

I know I’ve been silent since Monday. I haven’t even tried to sit down to write. I can’t muster up the energy to talk about my training or to do a product review or to tell some funny story. And, I can’t muster up the energy to write more about what happened on Monday. I said what I wanted to say then.


I love that we all wore our running shirts this week as a tribute.

Yes, life goes on. I take the kids to school. I run. I work. I cook dinner and have a glass of wine at night. But, I’ve done it all with a pit in my stomach. It seems cliché, but the phrase, “What is this world coming to?” resonates in my head and my heart. It all feels so out of control right now. I don’t want to live in fear, and yet every time I drop my kids at school, every time I get on an plane, and now every time I approach a finish line I’ll wonder if something bad could happen.  There is the continued sense that nothing will ever be the same again.

The question becomes, how do we live knowing these things, yet not let them consume us?

1. Do good and be good. I don’t know how long I’ll be here. I don’t know what amazing, sad, exciting, challenging things are in store for me. It doesn’t matter, because much of that is beyond my control. What I can control is how I approach people and life. All the “bad” stuff that happens out there just makes me want to be better. A better friend, a better mother, a better wife, a better community member, a better PERSON.

2. Be here. Look around you right now. What do you see and hear? I hear my daughter laughing. The sun is shining and I have a steaming cup of coffee beside me. I get to go shopping for running clothes with a friend today. I am healthy and lucid enough to sit here and write a blog post for you and to take a run outside later in the crisp morning air. I have this moment. Right now. I will cherish it.

3. Run. Sweat. Move. One of the things that has made this week more difficult is that I have taken several rest days to give my hamstring a break. This has meant I don’t get my usual “sweat outlet.” I don’t have to tell you how running (or whatever does it for you) transports you out of your head and into a place where you can gain perspective. A place where your worries can fall way for a bit.

4. Smile. Even laugh. When “bad” things happen, we often feel that it’s disrespectful to perk up and have moments of joy. That’s crap. Being joyous in no way undermines our grief about a situation. In fact, it helps us to cope, to have a moment of lightness in what otherwise feels very heavy and dark. The last thing you need to do is judge yourself for having a moment that is free from sadness and angst.

5. Help. When you feel help-less, the remedy is to be help-full. Reach out and do something that helps others. Step outside of yourself and your emotions and channel your energy into a cause that makes sense to you. (Skinny Runner posted a comprehensive list of tribute runs and fundraisers for Boston. You can find it HERE).

It’s been a long and sad week for all of us. What happened in Boston has hit runners – has hit EVERYONE - like a ton of bricks. We feel shocked, cheated, scared, angry and sad. At this point, there is nothing to do but lace up our shoes, step outside and literally move forward. Right, left, right, left.

How do you cope with “bad” things happen? Can you add to my list?



  1. Have faith, be vigilant, and LIVE your life.

  2. I thought I would start to feel better as they captured these monsters and yet, it has just broken my heart more. Now you hear their family....who will never be the same. I am trying to self talk all of those positive things you listed, but wow, is my heart heavy.

  3. Yes, this has been a difficult week. We've had personal family tragedy along with the disgusting events in Boston. Being from Boston and being a runner has this whole situation sitting like a pit in my stomach. I urge anyone having difficulty with this or similar personal tragedy reach out to a counselor. I made the phone call for myself on Tuesday. We lost my husbands cousin when he fell off his boat a week ago Sunday...took the Coast Guard 4 days to find his body. This traumatic event along with the event in Boston has left me feeling helpless. I had to make that call to a counselor because I knew I was falling into a very dark place and wasn't sure I had the strength to get out. I can't run right now (foot surgery on Tuesday) but I have been trying to get to the gym for other types of exercise. But for those of you having a difficult time please do yourself the service of reaching out to family and friends and even professional help if you need it. Run Strong!

  4. The one thing that always helps me cope, no matter what the situation, is to go out for a run. Unfortunately, my quads and calves are still recovering from running Boston on Monday so I am unable to do the one thing that I need to do most... I think I need to try some of your other tips in the meantime. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I had foot surgery in February so I am now unable to run the Country Music Half Marathon as planned. After learning about the Boston horror, I decided to volunteer at the race. I'll be at the finish line. I want to encourage others and let them know they were great. Hopefully I'll get a lot of sweaty hugs.

  6. This makes me even more determined to go out and run today. I choose to focus on positive things instead of negative ones. I look back at Monday and think about the helpful people, how we all just joined together to do what we needed to do, how we hugged strangers. When I think about the horrible footage of the finish line, I think about the people who did not hesitate to run *toward* the danger to help.

    thank you for sharing.

  7. Saying the terrorist attack was about runners/running is like saying 911 was about ME because I am a worker and I went to work that day.
    It was about anti-americans finding vulnerable people in mass to hurt/maim/kill.
    It could have been at any event where there were a lot of people.
    Not about you because you are a runner.

    1. I agree. This is what I have been feeling as well. The running community wasn't specifically targeted per se but just happened to provide an opportunity for these terrorists to harm a large group of people. It has been awesome though to see the running community come together to support Boston.

    2. I don't recall saying the attack was "about" runners. I said how it affected runners. Please don't imply that I think it is about "me" because I am a runner. This is not what this post is about. We have all, runners and non runners, been impacted.

    3. The running community was targeted because it happened at a running event. Easy target - no metal detectors to get into like at stadiums. And as such we as runners are pissed off about this. Every one of those people injured or killed could have been any one of our family members because they support us in what we do. And it is about SUAR, and it is about me and it is about YOU because it could have been any of us. In either case I don't think that's what SUAR was saying in the first place.

    4. The people who lived in New York City were affected differently by 9/11 than those of us who were 1000 miles away. This incident hits close to home for all of us who are runners, who have been spectators and competitors, and to ignore that fact is just ridiculous.

  8. I have been out of running for a month due to a foot injury. prior to the injury i had been training so hard for back to back races that i was starting to loose my love for the run. This week i have had three amazing runs, everything i used to gripe about after my runs I am enjoying. The weather changed by 15 degrees mid run, I twisted my ankle, should have worn sunscreen, wheres my hat....all of this went thru my head but with every step i let it slip away. I thought of all of those who are effected by the bombings on Monday. The people who will never be able to run again like I am. I feel better this week during these runs than i have in about 8 months worth of running. keep the positive thoughts and with every step that you want to stop, keep going for those who cant.

  9. Great post. It's been a tough week and I think you summed up my feelings don't want to live in fear and it's so hard to keep out of that mindset. Those are great tips that we can all use I'm sure.

  10. I couldn't agree more, I've been at a loss the past week. My friend was viciously attacked in a nearby city and thank god, fought back and got away. We also had a murder of a lovely elderly couple in our small town that has just shaken everyone up. Between that and Boston, I just can't wrap my head around all this hate for each other.
    It has helped me just to talk to friends about it and see that I have their support and they have mine. And like you said in #1, I will strive to be a better person. And sometimes its the little things, today I will pay for the Starbucks for the people behind me in a line today just to put a smile on their face.

  11. It has been a rough week for everyone. I didn't take this as an attack against runners specifically (or your post as saying it was), it was an attack against as many Americans in one place as possible. It just hits home extra hard for us as runners because even if we've never run Boston, we've run other races, and the finish line is supposed to be a place of celebration and joy, not fear and death. Looking for the good in life and in people helps to cope; focusing on today, this moment, and being fully present to appreciate the gift of another day helps as well. I haven't been able to run or work out much this week because of a problem with my heel, but I got in a short run and workout last night and it helped enormously.

  12. Gratitude always helps put things in perspective for me. I try to truly reflect on and appreciate every little single thing that is good in my life. There are so, so many.

  13. I've been avoiding reading Boston posts this week because so many of us are quick to jump in with solutions, so thank you for taking the time to write a thoughtful post. I wanted to have some time to feel sad. There are so many things in life that we can't control. When stuff like this happens, I like to clean my house....maybe rearrange the living room. It's the little things.

  14. Thank you for this post! I have been on rest for itbs from my marathon training and finally am getting back to some good runs. I miss my runs and the stress release. But also the time to process what has happened this week. Your list is helpful. I will run my first marathon next Sunday no matter who is plotting what or if my itbs flairs up. I'm healthy and will live in that moment.

  15. Some co-workers and I run a 12k on Sunday and I would be lying if I said I won't be a little nervous. And for those negative comments you are receiving.....ignore them. People interpret events like this in their own ways and to imply that you think this is about YOU is just silly. This is about so much more.......for runners and non-runners alike. :)

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  17. What happened is very sad. If there is one thing I have tried to teach my children after 9/11 is that we cannot stop living, and we can't live in fear - that's just what they want. I am so proud of all the runners who have committed to still run the races they've signed up for - let's stand together and really cheer them on!

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  19. Every time something like this happens, whether in my own backyard or someone else's, I am further reassured that there is something better waiting for us. This world is not our home. I am not supposed to want this world over my eternal home. I draw strength in my faith. There will be pain just as there will be joy. I've lived through the aftermath of the OKC bombing, burying my mom after her fight with cancer at a much too young of an age, just as I have experienced the joy of my two children's birth and my wonderful life with my husband. I cannot prevent the ugliness of the world but I can prevent it from changing who I am and what I live for.

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  21. Great advice. Live and be grateful for what you have, it's a wonderful world, full of wonderful people, despite the bad in it, focusing on that helps.

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  23. I could give a crap about your spelling! Having participated in the Boston marathon on Monday I have had somewhat of a rough week. Your post was right on -insightful and accurate. While I cried for the millionth time this week I appreciate your post(s) and thank you for all you do for runners.

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  25. It is hard to believe. I run each day with everyone out there in my thoughts! Let's make a statement, stand together strong! How dare you think you can come into our country and put us down! Keep putting one foot forward for everyone!

  26. Yes, yeas and yes to everything you said.

  27. Unfortunately, I had to explain to my 6 y.o. son what had happened and why. I found myself comforted, a little, as I searched for the good in the situation; the positives for him to focus on so that he can sleep at night. The truth is that there were so many more GOOD people there than bad. The selfless actions of so many people are almost (okay, not almost, but still, pretty amazing!) as astounding as the horrible actions of the two people who apparently perpetrated this act of terror.

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  32. Great post. Very thoughtful I think it captures what many of us feel. I have run this week with Boston in my thoughts. They have been quieter and more contemplative runs, but when they are done there is a sense of peace and gratitude I don't always take time to appreciate.

    I am comforted by this fact...2 people perpetrated this act but hundreds ran toward the chaos and the injured to help. Those running in are the true essence of who we are, not the cowards who dropped the bags and ran away. We just have ot live everyday knowing that.

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  34. Good answer.
    I feel the best thing I can do is push myself harder and train better, so I can qualify for and run the Boston Marathon.

    I put my response to the bombings today on my blog. It took me a few days to soak it in and come up with a response.

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  39. I ran the Running Fit Run For Boston tonight. Goose bumps!! Some of the runner ran 4-15-13. Great turn out for such a cold rainy day in Michagan.