My Running and Mental Health Journey

Running has been a part of my life for almost as long as I can remember. In high school, I was a sprinter and once I graduated, I took up distance running as a way to keep myself active. At the time it was merely another hobby, something that I loved to do a few times a week. When I became a mother for the first time, it became a way to unwind from the stresses that often came along with being a new parent.

I started running races in 2008 and discovered a world of like-minded people. People who didn’t think twice about getting up way earlier than any person should want to on the weekend, just to spend an hour or two racking up those miles. People who talked about things like fartleks and splits and the child-like excitement in getting a new pair of shoes.

As I continued to do this crazy running thing, it slowly began to morph into something more for me. It turned into my personal “me” time, a way I could just decompress from whatever the day decided to throw at me. The road was always there for me whenever I needed it. To listen without judgment, whether it be one mile, or ten. I never truly realized how much it helped my mental health until the year 2020 came barreling at us like a freight train.

In July of that year, I lost my job of 20 years. Being unemployed for the first time since I was 15 was hard. As if that wasn’t enough, a week later my mother passed away. Almost without thinking, I struggled to cope with dealing with her passing and the loss of my job the only way I knew how: by going for a run. My mileage for that month was nearly double what I had run in May.

When I resumed therapy that fall, one of the first things I was asked was if I was doing any form of exercise. Yep, running, and lots of it! I have no doubt that running helped my anxiety and depression from ballooning into something much worse. Every single run, even the so-called bad ones, were a step towards allowing myself to heal. Giving yourself some grace can be a hard thing, especially for me, but out on the road, or even on my treadmill, I was able to let go, if only for a little awhile.

Life is a funny thing. It often throws everything but the kitchen sink at us. Sometimes we even get the sink itself! For me, having that one constant, running, has been the backbone in my mental health journey. As the saying goes, I will forever be a work in progress, but I know that the open road, and maybe even a new pair of shoes (or two) will always be there for when I need it the most.

Tanya Koneczny

Tanya is one of our Offical Grambassadors for the 2022 Grandma’s Marathon Weekend. Meet the rest of the ambassadors here.

Follow her on Instagram

Favorite Grandma’s Marathon Memory: The 2019 Garry Bjorklund half marathon. My training hadn’t been going well at all leading up to the race, so I decided from the start to just have fun instead! This meant taking the beer shot at mile 7, the pickle juice shot, and high-fiving as many little kids as I could. It was one of my slowest half marathons to date but by far one of the funnest races ever!

If I had to define my running with the title of a song, it would be: Complicated by Avril Lavigne

Go to post-race beverage: A large coffee cooler from Caribou Coffee!

2022 Running Goal: Run marathon #5!

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