top of page

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

foundation you thought you had. Instead, I often encourage my patients that running

should not be treated as therapy, but instead as a tool. If running is your only

means of coping with life or getting by, this is a shaky foundation. But, if you have

other means of managing your stress or struggles, running can be fully released into

what it is meant to be: a tool. Running should be an adjunct to your solid foundation.

How do you know if running is your sole foundation? Ask yourself this: what would

happen to me if I couldn’t run anymore? How would my relationships be impacted?

How would my stress or job be affected? Would I be able to cope with things if I

couldn’t lace up and crank out some miles? Certainly things would be more difficult

if you could not run! We know the fantastic benefits running provides. But the real

question comes down to if you would be fundamentally and foundationally unable

to cope with life if running or training was on hold.

At Precision we are very encouraging to our patients to seek therapy and

counseling. To be honest, I believe therapy or counseling should be a part of

everyone’s life on a regular basis. If you need a referral to a therapist or counselor to

investigate your relationship with training or running, we would be happy to help!

In summary, let’s all be better humans and be able to love one another fully –

regardless of if we are able to run or train. Running and training can be much more

joyful if we are able to appreciate it for the tool that it is, rather than a desperately

needed dependency. It can be the amazing spice to life that we can savor rather than

the entire meal.

Thanks for reading,



bottom of page