SIBO, Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine
Truth be told, I've never been a runner. I've always thought it was boring and painful and not something I was particularly good at. For most of my adult life I've preferred yoga as my favorite form of exercise. In yoga I found an exercise that built strength through resistance, helped me develop a solid core, balanced strength with flexibility and most importantly yoga taught me how to calm my mind through meditation.
When the pandemic hit New York last March it upended not just my exercise routine, but really everything. With uncontrolled community spread here, rising cases, hospitalizations and deaths, it was a dark and scary time. Stuck in the apartment with my family I found that just practicing yoga wasn't working for me. I was nervous, on edge and my mind couldn't settle.
In Chinese Medicine we call this Qi stagnation. It happens when our internal energy gets stuck because things are out of our control and when there is a lot of uncertainty. I commonly see this in patients when they are stressed about something and it can easily happen in the course of normal life. Covid made my Qi stagnate like nothing I've ever experienced before.
Given that we were only allowed to go outside for necessities and to exercise I decided to start running. It was still boring and painful, but I found that on the days I ran my mind was more settled, my Qi less stagnated. It allowed me to do my yoga practice later the day and more fully get the benefits out of it. Running also allowed me to spend time outside, where even through my mask, I was getting valuable fresh air for 30 minutes a day.
As spring wore on and cases come under control in May and then really plummeted in June, much to my surprise I continued to run. Surrounded by social unrest and political turmoil there were still plenty of things going on to keep me on edge and running had now become a powerful mental health tool in my toolbox. Surprisingly, I also discovered that it was becoming more meditative and instead of being boring it became an activity I started looking forward too.
Reduced stress and anxiety were not the only benefits I've gotten from running. Better flowing Qi lead to better sleep, better mood and fewer menopausal symptoms.
Now I can firmly say that I am a runner. I'm still not particularly good at it, but I am stronger and can run farther and faster than last spring. My intention is to continue to run through the rest of Covid and beyond.