A FEEL-GOOD WAY TO DO GOOD!
If it’s May, and it will be before we know it, it’s time to lace up your sneakers– and head outside. Great cause to do it for: The Mental Health Association of Westchester’s MHA on the move 5K Run/Walk and 1 Mile Kids’ Race. This year, it’s on Sunday, May 5 from 8am to noon at FDR State Park in Westchester County, NY.
The Run/Walk is an inspiring, community-wide event in support of a cause we all appreciate the importance of–mental health and wellness—this year, more than ever.
Lou Young of WCBS-TV, and Miss Hudson Valley 2013, Jessica Pinckney, will be there cheering on participants. Local star, singer Jessica Lynn, will be entertaining before and after the race.
The family-oriented event includes healthy food and entertainment throughout the morning. Children get their own fun warm-up, 1-Mile Kids’ Race (ages 4-12) as well as ribbons for each runner. The 5K race is timed and medals are awarded in each age category as well as overall top male/female.
To register and to read more about the event, go to www.mhawestchester.org
From Couch to Quest: A Beginner’s Goal To Run a 5K Anxiety Free
MHA welcomes blogger, Amy M. Collins! Amy will be blogging weekly about her quest to run a 5K. Here, her first entry.
Last month I set myself a goal: to run a 5K. For some, this is may be an easy, enjoyable task. But for me, it’s a nerve-wracking prospect. For one, I’m 36 and have never run so much as one lap around a track. My running is usually reserved for dashing—arms flailing—to catch my train.
And then there’s the small matter of panic . . . the main reason I’ve never attempted a race—I’m scared. A little over 10 years ago, while living abroad, I was overcome with intense, prolonged anxiety that was eventually diagnosed as panic disorder. While I have coping mechanisms now, for years I struggled with the crippling attacks, the obsessing about my health, the emergency room visits because I thought I was having a “heart attack.” I often avoided activities that I used to love—including exercise. Like many people who suffer from anxiety, I feel uncomfortable when my heart races. When I run, I inevitably get palpitations, feel dizzy and feel like I can’t breathe.
But I’ve decided I’m done with that. My heart might feel bad when I run (right now), but it is, after all, only a misinterpreted feeling. One that will fade with time, as my mind and body get used to being out of my comfort zone.
My first step was to find a reasonable training program. I decided to try “From Couch to 5 K”, a program, designed to break you in slowly. Day 1 was easy: get off the couch. Once I accomplished that, I had to walk for 5 minutes, jog for two, and walk for 5. The plan starts off at three days a week, and each day the running portion is increased.
This past week, Week 3 of the plan, I had to run for seven minutes. I felt worried about the length of time, so I plugged my headphones into the treadmill’s TV screen (at the moment, due to the frigid weather, I’m training inside). I figured what better way to distract myself than watching re-runs of the King of Queens.
I stared straight ahead at the television, instead of the clock, and didn’t look down until I started to feel tired. When I finally checked the time, I had run for just under seven minutes. As I started my cool down, I felt the tell tale signs of a pending attack—my stomach muscles were clenched, my breathing was uneven, my head was spinning. I kept walking anyway, telling myself that I would have to actually faint and fall off the treadmill before I gave in to the nagging feeling of fear, which—as fear tends to do when it doesn’t get attention— eventually fizzled away.
Next week, I plan to continue to work on my breathing, and run longer. After all, I can’t stop now. I’ve signed up for the MHA 5K—what better way to fight anxiety then by running in the name of promoting mental health! My family and friends have joined me in the cause by donating to MHA through my fundraising page, and I refuse to let them down. Wish me luck!
Amy M. Collins is a writer and editor working for a health care publication in New York City. She also works as a freelance writer, editor, and translator in the health care field and in fiction. After living abroad in Barcelona for 10 years, she now lives in her native New York, in Somers.