Awkward Confession: I Cry After I Run

I never thought that crying was a side effect of running.  It likely isn’t for most people but for me, the weird thing that I’d need to include on my number “things-you-don’t-know-about-me” lists that are crawling all over Facebook right not would have to be –  I cry after running.  The first time it happened, I chalked it up to crazy hormones but it’s been happening a lot more often lately.  The more and the often being the operative words that prompted this post.


You didn’t think I was going to show you a picture of me crying, did you?  Image: Rusell Watkins

I’m a pretty open book with my emotions and have no qualms about public crying because I’ve done ’em all – the happy cry, the pissed off cry, the silent cry at the movies, the heartbroken cry, the-OMG-that’s-SLB! cry, the sad commerical cry and of course, the full-on superugly cry.  I never expected recreational running to make me emotional (finish line crying after a race doesn’t count because it is a given in my book).

I’ve come to terms with yoga tapping into my emotions.  Years ago, when I first started practicing yoga and tears started spilling out of my eyes while in savasana, I freaked out.  I never thought that it was wrong to be emotional in public but this display felt very inappropriate.  I was very self-conscious and embarrassed.

Laughing Lotus Yoga, Jasmine Tarkeshi and Dana Flynn

My first yoga teachers – Dana Flynn and Jasmine Tarkeshi of Laughing Lotus Yoga Studio.  Image: mkebbe

When I went to apologize to the instructor for “losing it” in her class, I was shocked when she smiled, hugged me and told me not to be ashamed but to be proud to have been able to express and access some feelings unbeknownst to my conscious mind.  I walked away semi-relieved and a bit confused. Over time, the practice of yoga has not only conditioned my body, but it’s been a very special conduit between my body, mind, heart and soul.  Running was never a spiritual endeavor for me.  It was just plain exercise however, I think something is changing.

My running has definitely evolved over the years.  I started running because it was cheap and challenging.  I run now NOT because I love running but because I get to :

Connect with the outside world

I’m not a nature lover or anything but for me, running must be done outside.  A treadmill will not do. I can go to a yoga studio or a fitness studio to sweat but a run requires the outside world.   I’m not so dedicated that I’m dying to go out in the snow or rain (a light snow or rain is ok but I’ll pass on the heavy precipitation or extremes of temperature).

Colorado Bridge

I love to see major landmarks and run over bridges (one day I hope to run over the Golden Gate Bridge) during a run but just being outside makes me feel like I’m multitasking.  I’m taking in the world around me while I exercise.

Listen to music

Hate if you want but I listen to music when I run and the only time I don’t is when I’m running with a friend.  When I’m running it might be the only time that the crescendo and lyrics of a song really have a meaningful impact.  The fact that a song can not only motivate my pace but can change my mood during a run is powerful!  There’s no way that I think I’d ever run without music.

Coldplay, Every Teardrop is a Waterfall

The song title is perfect and it’s a fabulous running song.

I love all kinds of music but only special songs make it on to my running playlists – it really isn’t only Duran Duran.  I’m thrilled that I have a friend in Gerard@TheMusicOfRunning (who just ran his 16th marathon this weekend – Congrats!).  Gerard is one of the few who “gets me” when it comes to this controversial subject.

Take a photo

Thank goodness for camera phones – they’ve changed everyone’s lives and for me the idea of stopping and taking a picture during a run changed my running.  I’ve said it many times before on the blog that I have a friend who is a long-time runner and photographer who told me that she stops during every run and takes a photo.  When I met her, the thought of stopping during a run to me was unthinkable.  Her perspective turned my running world around.  Running went from being a punishing exercise endeavor to a privilege with a photo souvenir.

NYC Skyline

This was my phone background for a long time. Downtown NYC from a Brooklyn run.

So why am I crying these days after a run?  I’m not entirely sure. Maybe it’s a release of some sort or maybe it’s that I’ve found that running is another practice that can open the emotional floodgates?  Maybe it’s because I’m 43 and my hormones are changing?  Maybe it’s because I’m about to  embark upon starting a private practice and I’m scared witless?  Maybe it’s just because it’s November and since living in California, if it goes below 70, I’m cold now.  I haven’t figured it out yet.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to roll with it.  I haven’t hit the broke-down ugly cry stage post-run so I’m ok…for now. I’m not yet the liberated Goober (yes, that’s a capital “G”) that I allow myself to be when the tears come in yoga class but maybe one day I will.

Crying, strength

I’m not sure this is the reason why I’m crying after I run but I like the sentiment.  Image: Dr. Kelly Page


    • says

      Kimberly: I’ll let you know that the breakdown of all the cry faces was inspired by your post about your “ugly” cry in front of your pastor. The visual really hit home with me. Thank you!

  1. says

    I’ve done the Yoga-Cry thing, and also after a 50-mile bike ride.
    I think you’re right about the hormones and maybe(especially when I’m by myself or just with the dogs), the mind wanders to places it isn’t normally allowed to go to–those dark recesses that hold so much emotion.
    Ann recently posted…Sandia Crest, New MexicoMy Profile

  2. says

    I love that last quote! I cry all the time and everyone thinks I’m too emotional but I cry as a release because I put so much pressure on myself! I’ve never cried after any type of workout but I’ve cried during a workout (in the privacy of my own home) because I’ve had something else on my mind and I was so frustrated and it was finally coming out through my workout!
    FitBritt@MyOwnBalance recently posted…Stay Hot When the Temperatures DropMy Profile

    • says

      Oh Brittany, we connect on yet another level. I’m beginning to think that self-pressure is the hallmark of strong, determined and deep-feeling women. I love knowing that it isn’t just me that sometimes breaks down….even if mine is more public.

  3. says

    I too am an emotional mush bag. I cry all the time but usually privately. I’ve definitely cried after races…a lot of them, but sometimes I cry after a typical run too. Running (or sweating, moving, endurance) brings emotions (and endorphins) to the surface. I think it’s completely normal and probably healthy too. Go ahead and let it all out!
    Allie Burdick recently posted…It Takes A Village To Get Your Tonsils OutMy Profile

  4. says

    I love this. Especially you being cold when the temp gets below 70 now. I rarely cry when far anyway. The finish line of my first marathon was the most memorable teariness. But I do think it is great that you’re able to connect physically, emotionally, spiritually that way. Sure, many people may assume you’re freaking out, but eh…who cares?
    Running Hutch recently posted…Pizza, Shame, and Food InsecurityMy Profile

    • says

      I don’t do anything normally – the finish line to my first marathon was a vomitfest instead of tears so there’s that. It’s strange to be so teary after my runs but I’m trying to come to terms with it no matter what the reason.

    • says

      I definitely get the idea of getting teary-eyed watching one’s child but yes, I guess there is an emotional level to running even if it is you doing the running. I’m trying to be more ok with it but I guess it’s a process.

  5. says

    I think that I cry all the time now. Well, maybe not all the time but there are so many things that seem to tap into my emotions these days. Maybe it’s getting old but I’d like to think that it’s partly being grateful and just being overwhelmed sometimes by the magnitude of it all. xo

  6. Doug says

    You are not alone. Great post!
    I too cry DURING my run,usually around mile 2 and I’ve learned to love and cherish it.
    Running became spiritual for me the 1st time it happened,it hit me like a ton of bricks.
    I decided to just let it flow til there was nothing left and when it was over and exhaustion set in, I knew I was hooked,addicted to the run.
    Everything you say is true for me as also..
    MUSIC-sounds better when running.
    SCENERY- looks better when running.
    PEOPLE-seem nicer when running.
    DOGS-are so cool!
    I feel like I’ve discovered a secret that I need to share with others,anyone whoever wanted to be a runner can get to this place and when they do,there’s no turning back!.

    • says

      Doug, thank you for letting me know I’m not the only one who feels like this (I was really beginning to feel a little like a nutter). I love your philosophy and will try to feel better about letting the tears (and my freak flag) fly! Thank you for stopping by.

  7. pam says

    i found this post because i was trying to figure out if the crying was typical. i’m 43 too. i run outside, with music (all the same philosophy you described), and just think and pray while i’m running. by the end, it’s not that unusual if i’m crying. i thought it might be a physical thing that just happens…anyway, good to read this

    • says

      Pam: I’m glad that my post made you feel not so alone. It’s a weird to feel those tears and emotions come to the surface during such an odd time but it’s also pretty fantastic. Happy running! Thanks for letting me know you stopped by. It makes it worth it to put those really weird feelings out in public.


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