Running as Therapy?

As a fellow runner, I can appreciate the statement “I use running as my therapy.” I

truly know what it means to have the troubles of the world fade away as the miles

tick upward. I know the escape that running provides and the outlet for frustration

and stress that it can become. Many times throughout my life I have used running as

a tool for helping me to de-stress, solve problems, cope with loss, and become more

centered. However, I can also fully appreciate the void that running can leave when

we are unable to perform this therapeutic activity.

As a physical therapist, I often hear similar statements from patients regarding

running as therapy. “It helps me to get through life and to be who I am”, they say.

“I’m not myself when I can’t run. I’m much less happy and agreeable to be around

when I’m not running or training.” This goes for triathletes, too, in case you were

wondering. These statements are common and almost every patient I see says this

at one point or another.

But, there’s a problem.

What happens when you can’t run? Or when you can’t ride or swim? What then?

How do you manage stress? Is your problem-solving or coping strategy now lost?

How can you still be the agreeable person your friends and family rely on? My point

in asking these questions is not to guilt you about your use of running or coping

strategies. Remember, I am also a runner and confess that I have also used these


The sad reality of relying upon running or training as therapy is that it can be taken

away in an instant. Injury can happen and remove this previously rock-solid