If you’ve been scrolling through photos on Instagram long enough, no doubt you have come across the phrase “Running is therapy.” A conversation with a friend over this phrase started months ago, but we both shrugged it off. Lately though, I’ve been seeing it more and more, and feel like I need to come out and say:
Running is NOT therapy.
Running IS therapeutic.
There’s a reason why I make this distinction. Too often people use running, and exercise in general as a crutch. And I’ve seen many people develop obsessive tendencies with their running, whether they are aware of them or not. Eventually when they get injured, (because they will rarely take rest days and ignore minor twinges and pains) they literally cannot cope. Their one coping mechanism is gone, and the depression that tends to accompany being injured is amplified. There was an article in NY Magazine last July titled “12 People on Why Running is Therapy.” At least three of the runners interviewed mentioned “obsession” or “addiction” in their answer.
Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with going for a run at the end of a stressful day, and running definitely helps clear my head and dissipate anxiety. Running can help you think through a problem. But in no way does exercise replace going to an actual therapist. There are some problems that you can’t outrun.