No, Running Isn’t Therapy
By Mark Remy, Runner’s World
You’ve probably seen or heard it, or some variation, a thousand times. I know I have. “Running keeps me sane!” … “If I couldn’t run, I’d go nuts!” … “Running is my therapy!”
Ha ha, LOL, etc. All of us, I think, can relate. (Though it’s debatable whether running is indeed “cheaper than therapy.”) Which is why all of us have seen or heard it, or some variation, a thousand times.
Recently, though, someone bent the old trope till it broke. This being 2014, it happened via Twitter, where I saw this pop up in my feed: “You’ll never need a psychiatrist if you have a good running buddy.”
Okay, stop. No. Hit the brakes.
Referring to running as your therapy is one thing. Declaring that a “running buddy” can or should substitute for professional mental health care is wrong. Worse, it’s reckless.
And on today of all days—with news of actor and comedian Robin Williams’ suicide by hanging, and tributes to his life, all over social media—a message like that isn’t just wrong and reckless, it’s spectacularly tone-deaf. (Poor Robin. If only he’d had a good running buddy. Well, #RIP!)
Before I go further, let me declare a few things of my own, preemptively.
First, yes, I understand how hyperbole works, especially where comedy or drama is concerned. Second, yes, I agree that folks in general need to “lighten up.” (And I’m trying really hard not to be a tight-ass about this.) Third, I agree that self-righteous indignation is pretty much the worst. (And I’m trying really hard not to lapse into it here.)
Most of all, let me stress that no one is a bigger believer in running than I am. I love running. Running is wonderful. Cathartic, cleansing, clarifying. Rejuvenative. Revelatory. At its best, running can be transformative and transcendant. Even, yes, therapeutic.
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