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It’s no secret that our country has suffered a mental health crisis since the pandemic began last year. Many studies show that anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation rates have all risen since 2020. This makes sense to me seeing as how we’ve spent more time being isolated, keeping our distance from people, and worrying about what the future will bring.

I wanted to share a fun fact that many may not know. According to WebMD, “Researchers have established that aerobic exercises (such as running) can work like anti-depressants. The relationship between running and mental health helps treat cases of mild to moderate depression.” Of course, there is a long list of other benefits that come from running, but I feel like this is one that should be shouted from the rooftops considering the current state of the world.

I know that running is typically a punishment in most sports, and the thought of running for fun sounds horrible for some people, but once you get past the “hating it” part, it’s kind of… well, fun!

I ran my first race, the St. George Marathon, in 2009. My training and my diet were truly terrible. I was 19, in college, working at T.J. Maxx, and was running whenever I found time (which wasn’t often). When I started getting to the longer runs (17 miles or more), I started really hating it. I hated it so bad, that when I went running, I wouldn’t bring my phone with me because I knew that if I did, I would call a friend to come pick me up (though that didn’t stop me from using the phone at Great Harvest every now and then).

Through this training, I decided to only have one goal: “just don’t hate it.” I made a promise with myself that as I ran, I could think about anything I wanted to, I just couldn’t think about how much I hated it — at least not until the run was over.

One early Saturday morning I was running by Dixie Rock in St. George (where I lived at the time), and suddenly, I did it! I had run a whole mile without hating it. I had zoned out thinking of something (nothing in particular), and bam … I forgot I hated it! I couldn’t believe it.

That fall, I ran the marathon (it took forever), but I did it — and then I didn’t run a single mile again for nine months. Seriously.

Now, here I am 12 years later. I’ve run dozens of races, mostly marathons and one ultra-marathon, and I can truly say that running is what keeps me centered. I run because it keeps me from losing my temper, I run because it gives me an opportunity to spend time outside, and I run because it makes me feel better.

I know that many people joke that they would only run if a bear was chasing them, but I’m telling you, it’s enjoyable! And trust me when I say, I’m no fancy elite person, I’m just a regular girl who runs to keep her sanity.

The best part is that it’s a cheap sport! All you need is a good pair of running shoes, some comfortable (non-chafing) clothes, and preferably a pretty view (which makes fall the perfect time to start!) If you’ve never tried running before, I challenge you to do it, but make it fun! Don’t worry about mileage, or time, or tracking. Just go out and simply enjoy it!

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