Running as therapy

Running as therapy: Why you should run during stress

You often hear it, runners like to ‘empty their minds’ after a long day of work. It’s their way to relax. And you know what? They are absolutely right! If you run, you don’t think about anything. Moreover, running improves the functioning and recovery of the parts of your brain that inhibit stress, such as the production of stress hormones. Possible burn-out symptoms can be reduced or even prevented altogether. Someone who can tell you everything about running against stress is Goudje Haadsma, coach and running therapist at RunFree Groningen, Netherlands.

Running helps to prevent stress on several levels

If you’re not happy or not feeling well, it is often difficult to put yourself up to something. Still, moving is really something that makes you feel better. ‘I can imagine that when you think about running, you might think ‘that’s really not something for me’, but I still want to convince you to give it a chance.

Running helps on different levels, psychologically, biologically and physically,’ says Goudje.

– Psychological results of running

Psychologically, running increases your self-confidence. If you have walked a route or run regularly, you will notice that you can always push your limits and you will feel a little prouder. In addition, you have less time to worry when you are running, you have the space to clear your head.

– Biological results of running

From a biological point of view, movement acts as a medicine. Your body produces hormones such as dopamine and releases a lot of endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Especially if you start running more often, you will notice that these feelings not only continue to do their work during, but also after running. Also, a walk or a run through nature provides more balance, because nature gives you peace and inspiration.

– Physical results of running

When you are exercising, you will also notice that your stamina improves. Physically you will feel stronger and this will give you self-confidence and motivation to keep going!

How to start running as therapy

Goudje: ‘Many people think that running is not for them, that’s also what I thought at first. Still, I’m sure everyone can do it, taking into consideration that you’re physically healthy and don’t have any injuries. To challenge you, I have some tips below:

1. Start at the beginning, your own beginning.

Build up your endurance step by step. Don’t measure yourself to anyone passing you. It’s your journey. What also helps is to set yourself realistic goals and build up your distances in a sensible way. For example, choose a training plan from the eRoutes app that suits you best.

2. Don’t run too much and too fast

Running too omuch and too fast makes no sense at all and brings you nothing more than ending up with injuries. When you thinking about running, you often think of sprinting, but this is definitely not something you want to do. So don’t start running like a maniac in a nearby park. This will not take you anywhere. Well, figuratively speaking. You will notice that if you start slow, in the end, you can run faster and keep going for one lap longer.

3. Go running with a friend

Do you find it difficult to set goals for yourself and keep training to achieve them? Then run with a friend. This way you motivate each other to keep going and it’s also much more fun. Make sure that you have the same level of intensity though.

4. Find guidance

It can also help to go into running therapy. You will notice that you will learn to breathe better, and you will learn different techniques to keep running for a longer time or distance.

As a therapist, I notice that people find it very exciting and are a little nervous at first, but everyone eventually goes home satisfied and proud! Curious about the issues I sometimes run into? Then follow me on Instagram @goudje_runfree.

Goudje Haadsma Running Coach
Goudje Haadsma, coach & running therapist

Coaching at Run Free Groningen

Goudje started in 2017 with Run Free Groningen where she combines coaching with running therapy. The goal of this type of therapy is to reduce depression or burn-out symptoms by running. She gained her knowledge during her studies in psychology and a special Running Therapy course. In addition, from personal experiences with depressions and on the verge of burn-out, Goudje noticed that running helps to clear your head and make you feel free, more stable and less depressed.

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