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Push It

I wrote this post back in April, 2012 but I want to share it again, because it still rings so true!

Where do you carry your stress? I carry mine in my stomach…I always have. When I was a little girl I would get such bad stomach aches that my mom took me to the doctor to see what was up. I’m sure he said something about anxiety and stress but as a doctor back then, he did what he could do and ruled out food allergies. I was taken off of dairy and for several months I was forced to dunk my cookies in that sweetened soy milk stuff and yet I still got stomach aches.

Some people eat more when they’re stressed out as if somehow the food they’re consuming is going to slide off track somewhere in the middle of their esophagus and fill up that gaping hole in their heart left by the boy who called them fat in grade 4. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not judging, because I fill up that gaping hole too but in different ways. Nobody called me fat, but just like every other human on the planet, I got hurt. And we all have our coping mechanisms.

Mine is running. I know, right? Shocking. But it’s not just the physical *grunt* outlet that does it for me–it makes my stomach feel normal. If I carry my stress in my stomach and running takes care of that anxious, nauseous feeling, then I keep running. People think I’m skinny because I run so much but it’s the opposite—I actually put on a couple of pounds during the super high mileage weeks. When I get injured and can’t run? I get stressed out, I get stomach aches, and then I lose weight.

When life rocks my happy life boat, I pound pavement. I do it to remind myself that I am on solid ground. I do it to sweat out the angst… but I also do it to feel normal. I want to feel hungry, to eat a satisfying meal, and to fall asleep exhausted. It’s like, basic life stuff. We sleep, we wake up, we work, we eat, we go back to sleep. If my life turns upside down or even hits some turbulence, I widen my stance, stare it in the eyes, and then beat it. After I run, my tummy settles and then it growls, and then I feed it. It’s like what wild animals do out there, you know? They’re all crazy and hungry in the jungle feeling super pissed off and irritated that it rained all day or something, and then all of a sudden they see a little bunny bounce around in their peripheral vision and it’s all BAM!… blood and guts and dinner. Normalcy returns, and they collapse into a pile of hot bodies in their dens and fall fast asleep, peacefully.

You see, there’s no possible way for me to run a 20 miler and not be freaking starving. When I’m stressed out and anxious and worried about life, there’s nothing more comforting to me than feeling something normal. When tragedy happens and people ask me, “Suzy! What do I do NOW?” I tell them to do something normal. Go to the grocery store and buy milk and bread. Bake cookies. Pet your dog. Get the mail.

My first car was an ’87 Pontiac Firefly, and when it would stall, I’d stick it in neutral and I’d get people to push me down a hill and as my car would roll and gain momentum, I’d start her up. That’s what running does for me and for my stress. Sometimes I can’t feel my face for the stress I’m carrying, but I robotically lace up my runners and walk out the front door. I put it into neutral, and with the help and support of people around me, I start her up.

What was your first car? Did you name it?

{ 16 comments… add one }
  • Lisa @ Running Out of Wine August 2, 2016, 2:04 am

    I think I carry my stress in my shoulders and neck. I still have my first car, which is a Honda Accord. I have had it for 16 years now!

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com August 2, 2016, 7:35 am

      Okay NO WAY. That’s so awesome. You’re going to be so sad when you part with that car!

  • Susie @ Suzlyfe August 2, 2016, 3:34 am

    My first car was a gray 1984 BMW 733i. It was a freaking tank, and you could hear it from like a mile away. It had been my dad’s car, and at the time he bought it, it was the height of technology–on board computer and everything. By the time I got it, the computer had long since died, as had pretty much everything else in the car at one time or another (even the steering wheel) and had been replaced. It had the largest trunk known to man (seriously, so many golf bags could fit in there), which made it perfect for me with all of my barn stuff. I actually wrote my college admission essay about what I kept in my car and what it said about me.
    I had a pink lei hanging from the rearview mirror.
    Its name was Eli, because it was like a big gray elephant, but Ellie was a girl’s name, and it was far too masculine. I loved that car.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com August 2, 2016, 7:34 am

      This car sounds absolutely fabulous. I bet it smelled so good, too. I love the smell of those cars. Mmmmm….

  • Steph August 2, 2016, 6:18 am

    my first car was a vw jetta – named Sarabeth…man I miss that car!

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com August 2, 2016, 7:33 am

      Awe, I always wanted a VW. I felt extremely uncool with my Firefly, but I still loved it. But maybe it was more of a pity-love, like the way I’d love a one-eyed cat.

  • Megan @ Meg Go Run August 2, 2016, 6:35 am

    I feel like I read this post before! Must have been when I went back to read some old stuff. My first car was a Cutlass Sierra from like 1990 or something. I poop a lot when I am stressed/anxious.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com August 2, 2016, 7:15 am

      I’ve been going back into my really old stuff to copy and paste it into some organized fashion for a book one day. It’s been quite entertaining to see what my writing was like back then!

  • Brittney August 2, 2016, 6:41 am

    I love your posts like this that are so raw and full of emotion. I used to be someone who turned to food in times of stress (and sometimes still do), but I started running about two years ago to try to fill that void and I’m sure glad I found running. There is just something about you and the road that pushes all that stress away, even though it may only be for a moment!

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com August 2, 2016, 7:14 am

      Yahoo! I’m so thankful that we can use running and fresh air as a way to cope. I just have to make sure I don’t *over*use it. That’s my only problem.

  • Laura @ This Runner's Recipes August 2, 2016, 11:47 am

    I carry my stress in my stomach and my shoulders/upper back. Running helps so much with the stomach stress in multiple ways. I love how we can all openly talk about BMs on your blog.
    My first car was a Honda Pilot – and my only car! 1o years later and I still drive it every day. It’s weird whenever I drive a rental or Ryan’s car.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com August 2, 2016, 1:02 pm

      I didn’t even know that they made Honda Pilots back then! And yes, whenever anyone tells me they’re having trouble pooping I just serve them up a hot cup of coffee and tell them to go for a run.

  • Aimie C August 2, 2016, 9:29 pm

    I love everything about this post…I have read it over and over and love the way the words just make sense to me, you are one talented writer:)..anxiety is a constant battle with me and running helps me cope with the stomach aches and headaches and sore muscles and all the crappy stuff. I come back a better person in every way and that is pretty amazing.
    My first car was a white 1990? Daytona and it was a piece of crap bc my younger brother gave it to me after he had bagged the crap out of it for two years. But, it was a car with wheels and it got me around when I was in University.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com August 3, 2016, 8:00 am

      Oh, my sister and my dad both had Daytonas. I’m so glad that the post helped you! Thank you for the kind words. I’m just glad I’m not alone out there with the anxiety crap.

  • Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets August 5, 2016, 6:46 am

    I carry my stress in my neck and my shoulders, although these days I have less and less of it. It feels good to be out of corporate America. Ave’s not bad either. 😉

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com August 5, 2016, 7:12 am

      I love hearing this.

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