Running Is My Therapy: Relieve Stress and Anxiety, Fight Depression, Ditch Bad Habits, and Live Happier by Scott Douglas is a profound book covering a rarely discussed topic. Scott is a contributing editor at Runner's World. He has authored eight other books about running, including the New York Times bestseller Meb For Mortals. Scott is an accomplished runner and a credible expert.
The book is +250 pages and organized into chapters related to therapy: How running helps your brain; Depression; Anxiety; Antidepressants, Mindfulness, Talk Therapy, etc. Sources are a mixture of clinical data, Scott's personal experiences with therapy, and Scott's friends in the running community.
I appreciate this book because it explains something I figured out for myself but never understood, which is how running helps with depression.
In my book review VLOG below, I take the first few minutes to relate my own experience with depression and running before covering the book in depth.
Three sections stood out to me. Chapter one is How running helps your brain and is the most scientific chapter in the book. It details how running causes your brain, specifically the hippocampus, to grow.
Next, there is a revealing chapter on antidepressants. The book explains the neurochemistry of antidepressants and how running elicits an identical chemical response. In short, running is as effective as taking antidepressants.
Finally, several chapters explain how running reinforces what I consider executive function skills: mindfulness, discipline, mental fortitude. These chapters cover these areas with a mixture of scientific studies and the author's personal experiences.
For critiques, some readers may take issue with the book's sources. Many runners, by nature, are quantitative. They like data, science, and analytics. This book begins rooted in science and clinical data. However, as the book progresses, the content shifts to Scott and his running mates' personal experiences. Personally, this lack of science doesn't bother me. I think the author's experiences humanize the book. I think Scott's a credible person, but I can see how some runners might say, "I'd rather stick to the science, please."
In summary, Running Is My Therapy will help you understand how running can help yourself. If the title of this book draws you in, you probably already understand how running is your therapy. Perhaps you have experienced, as have I, bouts of self-doubt and depression. This book will help you understand how and why running can help you get through the roughest days. The understanding provided by this book may end up being just the nudge you need to get off the couch and get moving on those days where nothing seems worth doing.