“Angry running” and running as running away


The first time I did it I was just twelve years old. The family dog had been hit by a car and wasn’t going to live. I started crying and I left the house in the dark and hit the streets. I slammed the door behind me. I ran and walked and ran and then walked some more into the night. I don’t know that I felt better in the end but I was tired enough to sleep.

Later, during high school, it was my go to “argument ending” move when someone insisted I keep talking about something that was upsetting me. Running=running away.

On a few occasions, back when I drank, there might have been alcohol involved in some of my ‘angry running.’ More than once I’ve run home barefoot from parties, carrying my shoes or abandoning them in the bushes. “Sam’s run off in a sprightly fashion, ” reported one friend to another as they walked behind me to make sure I didn’t get into too much trouble. In addition to a hangover, I had dirty, sore feet the next day.

I ran as well the night my sister died.

Luckily I’ve never been tempted by sad, angry driving and bike riding. Somehow, I’ve always known that wouldn’t end well. There’s no one you can hurt with running.

The other night I was upset and again my first impulse was to run.

I’m not sure how to think about ‘angry running.’ Yes, better than drinking. Probably better than ‘angry eating’ though when I’m upset, I can’t eat anyway.

And I don’t only run when angry. I run for all sorts of reasons.

I ran the morning I was getting married because, well, stress but it was happy stress. To my amusement some family members in the country–we were getting married on the family farm–were actually worried I was running away. No one ran recreationally there then.

But back to the point of this post, I’m not sure how emotionally healthy ‘angry running’ is. We all praise it–see the various images and motivational sayings in the post–but is it really a good thing?

When I was running seriously–before my first stress fracture, before my first knee injury, before I discovered road cycling–I was training with my friend M who said all runners have troubles. It’s why they run. Contrary to the popular line about emotional eating, he said that he was raised to think that happy people are chubby and vice versa. He said that he never ran far or fast when he was happy in a relationship. Instead it was anger and loneliness that got him out the door and made him punish himself by running fast.

I don’t do it often enough to worry about. And I think my friend M is wrong. Some of the happiest people I know are runners. But I’m still wondering.

What do you think about angry running? Do you you do it? Does it help? Is it a healthy impulse?


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