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How About a Run?

If you think about it, running and ADHD are a natural fit. What better activity for people who have trouble sitting still than being constantly in motion?

Running can be a kind of meditation. The rhythm of it, the constant movement, the release of anxious energy.

Which isn’t to say that motivating myself to go for a run is always easy. No doubt there are times when it seems like it would be easier to not go for a run. But when I do go for a run, I never end up saying to myself: “I sure wish I hadn’t wasted my time on that.

When it comes to winning the motivation battle, it can make a difference when and how you run. A lot of people run first thing in the morning. That sounds great, and I can see the appeal: it wakes your brain up and gives you energy for the rest of the day.

For me, though, waking up is a gradual process that tends not to take place any earlier than necessary. Morning runs aren’t for me. But nighttime runs have a special charm and are the perfect way to wrap up any sort of day.

Running isn’t just a time to exercise – it’s a time to think. Running kicks my brain into a higher gear. This is partly what makes it a good ADHD coping strategy. Getting your body into motion has a way of getting your brain into motion too.

Running gives you motivation and mental clarity, two things that aren’t always easy to come by when you have ADHD. It’s one of the paradoxes of exercise: expending energy can actually give you more energy.

Admittedly, this is one of the drawbacks of night-time runs vs. early morning runs. On the bright side, I often get an hour or two of extra productivity before bed.

I used to think I wasn’t the kind of person who would enjoy running. But if you think you’re not someone who would enjoy running, realize that the surprise makes it that much more fun when you give it a chance and realize that you do.

And that’s why I’m posing this question to everyone with ADHD: how about a run? I’ve noticed a pattern of people with ADHD using running as a coping mechanism. Which isn’t to say that everyone with ADHD will enjoy it, but if you haven’t tried it, it’s worth a shot!

By Neil Petersen