Running & Mental Health

Sarah McMahon
2 min readDec 26, 2023

[Listen to an audio version of this blog here.]

The other day I saw a meme that said something about endurance sports attracting people with trauma. Ha, I thought. But also, true. I’ve met people dozens of miles into a race who tell me all about their trauma; addictions, abuse, depression, disorders. Most of the time, I don’t even have to ask. Endurance sports are a linear, non-complicated metaphor for overcoming difficulty and hardship. Put one foot in front of the other long enough, and you’ll eventually reach the finish line. Learn to manage pain, and you’ll reach the finish line. Learn to push hard, to be strong and resilient, to keep going and eventually, you’ll reach that finish line. Learn to train your body and mind and reaching the finish line might hurt a little less.

What endurance sports have that life does not are finish lines. Whether you’re doing a half marathon or a multi-day adventure race, the event will eventually be over. You’ll feel achy, exhausted, and elated and then, you’ll go back to your normal life answering emails, driving to work, whipping up some casserole for dinner.

What a lot of people are looking for when they sign up for a race is a challenge, a way to test their strength. What is often missed in this quest for a challenge is that the race itself is hard, but not even as close to as hard as life can be. There is only…