Running Eased A Trapped Miner's Stress

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
10/30/2010 9:01 AM   :  57 comments   :  14,732 Views

Unless you lived without access to a television, computer, newspaper or radio you could not have missed hearing of the miraculous rescue of the 33 Chilean miners two weeks ago. These men were trapped for well over two months over a half mile below the Earth's surface. How they survived this harrowing ordeal with great tenacity was truly a miracle. What a joy it was to see the miners, one by one, being raised to the surface only to be reunited with family and friends.

Earlier this week I came across an inspiring blog posted on the Runner's World website regarding the trapped Chilean miner Edison Pena. You may be asking yourself what in the world does this miraculous story have to do with running. If you continue reading, you may just find yourself ready to lace up your shoes and hit the ground running.

In the 69 days that the miners were trapped, Edison Pena did what many runners do in times of stress and great anxiety--he ran. Running anywhere from three to six miles daily in a dark, warm underground tunnel all of a ˝ mile in length, helped ease the stress and anxiety of being trapped. His running not only kept his mental acuity, but it also kept him fit, therefore earning him the title as the Fittest Miner.

According to the American Council on Exercise aerobic activity is a great stress reliever. It has been shown to reduce the amount of the stress hormone cortisol, while increasing the feel good endorphins known to many runners as the ‘runner’s high’. Exercise has also been shown to elevate our mood, increase confidence and allow for greater relaxation.

So with all the benefits mentioned above, isn’t it is ironic that many of us find ourselves avoiding or disdaining daily activity? Studies have shown that just 30 minutes of daily exercise can do wonders in changing not only our physical appearance and health, but our mood as well. And the more we exercise, the more resilient we are to the daily stress in our lives.

Last spring when I was under an extraordinary amount of stress, I did what so many people tend to do during times like this and that was to cut back on my running and cross training activity. It took about a month for me to realize that my decrease in running and exercise was actually causing me to be more anxious and more depressed. So on April 1st, I found a race to train for, laced up my running shoes and started running consistently 3-4 days a week. I am proud to say I have been running and cross training ever since and I have never felt better. There is still stress in my life, but I am managing life so much easier running than I ever did without it.

Taking a lesson from Edison Pena—there is little in my life that I control. Just like he could not control the time it took the rescue workers to free him and his fellow miners, he was able to make the most of the resources he had. And in response to his amazing running feat, the New York Road Runners Club has invited Mr. Pena as a guest or runner for the ING New York City Marathon to be held on Sunday, November 7th.

How do you deal with the stress in your life? Have you made exercise a part of your stress relieving routine?



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Comments

  • 57
    saw this man on Letterman show..he is truely amazing and a funny funny man...he was insirational in a funny way.even though he couldn't speak english he could get his point across.. such a great spirit - 11/26/2010   9:55:12 AM
  • 56
    I make sure I get enough execise to keep my mood high and brain working well for homework assignments and such. - 11/9/2010   8:44:53 PM
  • 55
    This story is really inspiring. I was a runner from way back, a skinny little indian girl that used to run everywhere, joined the Army right after high school, and running only helped, my health was great, and I loved running. Then I started partying and hanging out with friends, and let my running diminish to not at all. Now I'm overweight and trying hard to get healthier, I still remember how great it felt to run 5-8 miles a day and wish I could get back there. I've lost a total of 70+ pounds but have about 25 more to go, I think I'll add a little running to my walking. THANKS! - 11/2/2010   7:33:23 PM
  • 54
    Totally motivating me!! Thank you for blogging this! - 11/2/2010   2:57:20 PM
  • 53
    Great story! A true inspiration! - 11/2/2010   11:37:42 AM
  • 52
    This whole story is a miracle - 11/1/2010   11:35:59 PM
  • 51
    I've read "SHRINK YOURSELF" by Roger Gould, M.D. who is a Professor at UCLA and has worked with obese people for 20 years. He says we must learn to manage stress or we will continue to regain weight. I've used a lot of his ideas. - 11/1/2010   5:51:34 PM
  • 50
    Good Blog....I do exercise, yoga, if I can, and the pool each working day. I ride my bike as well. - 11/1/2010   2:22:29 PM
  • 49
    Thanks for the story. It's very true, and like other are saying, other types of exercise also reduce stress. I'm not a runner but I like to walk and do Zumba, and the combination of that exercise with music is the best stress reliever and mood improver for me.
    I've never experienced a 'runner's high' but I would imagine how I feel after a good Zumba workout to great music which gives me a great feeling and a burst of energy must be a similar experience. - 11/1/2010   8:39:10 AM
  • 48
    I go for a walk in the fresh air and it seems to relieve some stress. great blog!!! - 10/31/2010   10:09:06 PM
  • 47
    When going threw bad times in my life, I have always turned to some form of exercise as a stress relief. Being in the Navy, I had madatory physical fitness, but always found that when something bothered I would go workout. I worked twelve hour days and before going home to bed, I often stayed and would run or swim for 20 to 40 minutes. This allways allowed me to relax. - 10/31/2010   9:05:25 PM
  • VANANDEL
    46
    For 8 months before I quit my job, I was working 70+ hours/week, working every single day except for two in that 8-month period (including working 15 hours one day when I was on vacation). One of those free days was Christmas, the other was a Saturday. I felt like I had no life, but one of the very few things I did not give up on was my exercise. I knew it was a lifeline for me. I gave up most sleeping (not good, but the crazy hours of the job didn't allow for a normal sleep life anyway), reading the newspaper, watching TV or movies (not much of a sacrifice on the TV-side since I still watch so little), going out, etc. I know I would have been even worse off without the exercise to relieve stress. I'm so glad I finally quit - life has been so wonderful since then! - 10/31/2010   6:28:40 PM
  • CHELSEAANNE8
    45
    I love this story! When I'm extremely stressed, I walk and I walk and I walk and I walk. For example, recently, I lost a friend to cancer and I walked for 2 hours straight. That's a lot for me since I've multiple sclerosis but walking always works for me. The longest I've ever walked because of stress was 4 hours. I learned it firms your butt! :-D - 10/31/2010   5:54:53 PM
  • 44
    Great blog.....Great story.................EXCEPTIONAL INSPIRATION!!!! - 10/31/2010   5:40:02 PM
  • 43
    Shows, ANYONE can beat the odds, if you just put your mind to it! amazing! - 10/31/2010   1:19:20 PM
  • 42
    WOW ! That really is a remarkable story. I can't imagine the amount of stress those men were under and yet were still able to find a way to cope.

    How do I deal with stress ? Depending on my mood, I'll take a walk or drink a hot cup of tea. If I feel like I have excess energy to burn off, I'll hit the gym for a good workout. - 10/31/2010   1:10:18 PM
  • PAMELALANDIS
    41
    The miners have been so inspiring in so many ways. Thank you for sharing this. - 10/31/2010   10:44:30 AM
  • 40
    An amazing story, Mr. Pena must have a strong will to be able to keep running under the conditions and stress he was in. He is an inspiration for everyone to exercise. - 10/31/2010   10:20:17 AM
  • 39
    I didn't know this and I'm a runner. Thanks for letting us know. - 10/31/2010   9:50:23 AM
  • GBTRIGIRL
    38
    What a great blog! Running has gotten me through many stress days in my life not that compare to the miner but stressful none the less. When I am sick or injured not having that outlet is hard and I usually cannot wait to get back out running again. - 10/31/2010   9:14:47 AM
  • 37
    Great blog and very inspiring story. A prime example of one of God's miracles. - 10/31/2010   8:08:13 AM
  • 36
    That is so AMAZING! I had not heard this aspect of the story yet, and I'm so glad that I've read it now! How incredible that this miner recognized how important it was for him to run, and how good of his fellow miners to allow him that (I can imagine that the instinct to say, "no, you'll get hungry and we only have so many supplies coming" could override the knowledge that running kept their coworker going).

    I almost never skip exercise due to stress any more. Sometimes, I'll skip a day in favor of sleeping later (sometimes, waking up at 5am just won't work for me), which helps ease stress, but I haven't decided "I'm too worked up to exercise." And should that temptation ever arise... I'm going to remember this story. Because if I think my life is stressful after hearing about this, I really need to re-evaluate. - 10/31/2010   7:20:14 AM
  • 35
    I agree that exercise and any other hobby will take your mind off stressful situations and give the brain a chance to recover, take stock and calm down. - 10/31/2010   6:49:32 AM
  • KEMCNAIR
    34
    I heard about this runner, so thanks for the links.

    I've just started walking/running and it's so true about those endorphins. I clear my mind and come back feeling like I can take on the world. The weather is getting colder here in the East, but I guess that just means I need to layer up and get out there. - 10/31/2010   5:44:55 AM
  • JAY75REY
    33
    Yes, absolutely...exercise is my best weapon against stress and depression. Not to mention fighting Type 2 Diabetes. Whether it's a long, medium fast walk or something very intense like Zumba, I count it all...and with SparkPeople I'm regularly doing at least 1000 minutes a month. I'd be a mental and emotional basket case without it. You don't need to get a "high" from exercise for it to be good... - 10/31/2010   12:32:57 AM
  • RUQAYYAH3
    32
    Inspiring - 10/30/2010   11:22:20 PM
  • 31
    In January I was fired from my job (long story). I spent the first 12 hours sobbing and then the depression set in - so heavy that it was close to paralyzing. During that part of the year here in Seattle it is overcast every day and rains almost every day, but I quickly figured out that walking outside in the rain would ease my depression a bit, at least to a point where it didn't take over completely. Nearly 10 months later, I still don't have a job, but I get temp work pretty regularly and I'm starting my own business. I've also completed the Big Climb (69 stories in a downtown skyscraper), walked a full marathon, completed C25K and run my first 5K, and next month I'll complete my third half. I don't think I'd have accomplished anything this year if I hadn't stayed active. - 10/30/2010   10:43:08 PM
  • 30
    Thank you. At first when I would exercise because of stress, the problem was still in the forefront, and I could not focus, now if I don't exercise, the stress tries to envelope me. Exercise is key to my life - 10/30/2010   7:17:42 PM
  • 29
    There are some amazing people out there! - 10/30/2010   6:40:27 PM
  • 28
    I definitely notice in my stress level and general mood when I don't work out for a few days. It's sometimes hard to get back in the groove, especially if I haven't ran in more than 3-4 days. But I just push myself to get out there that first time after a lull and I always feel great afterward! - 10/30/2010   6:38:43 PM
  • 27
    I am physically unable to run because of two knee replacements and the second was done about 5 months ago. I have chosen swimming as my favorite exercising and have been swimming a minimum of 30 minutes at least 5 times per week. When I don't do that minimum amount of exercising my stress level goes up. My goal is to add another 30 minutes of recumbent biking and/or other exercises to my routine at least 5 days a week.

    Just cause I don't run I can do other exercise which helps with stress. - 10/30/2010   5:29:12 PM
  • 26
    All I can say is "WOW" - 10/30/2010   5:13:00 PM
  • 25
    Inspirational! - 10/30/2010   5:06:37 PM
  • TIMETOSHINE2
    24
    Excellent blog! Inspirational - 10/30/2010   5:00:54 PM
  • 23
    Motivating blog! The next time I feel stressed I'm going to put my shoes on and just run! - 10/30/2010   4:55:28 PM
  • 22
    That's really inspiring! - 10/30/2010   4:33:08 PM
  • 21
    Work has been pretty stressful for me recently. Longer hours both at the beginning and end of the day. I have however, decided that I need to continue to make exercising a priority for me and although work might be less stressful if I come in a little earlier each day, I will be more stressed and resentful towards my directors if I give up my exercise time. So, some mornings I just get up a little earlier, but I get my cardio in NO MATTER WHAT!! I am worth it. - 10/30/2010   4:23:49 PM
  • 20
    I like to exercise after work because the daily stress from work gives me a lot of negative energy. This energy fuels me throughout my routine and I feel so much better before I head to my house. - 10/30/2010   4:16:18 PM
  • 19
    I like to exercise in the morning because it is a good start to my day, I am more alert, but I have not considered working out as a stress reliever. I will keep that in mind. - 10/30/2010   3:01:36 PM
  • 18
    Great story. Those men were an inspiration in so many ways. I have heard their stories on the radio and heard the deals that they made with each other over this. Amazing. - 10/30/2010   2:57:23 PM
  • 17
    I'm truly impressed! A lesson to take to heart and act upon. Congratulations to Mr. Pena for demonstrating excellent survival skill! - 10/30/2010   2:49:52 PM
  • 16
    I've been under an unusual amount of stress recently. In the past, I would have sat on the couch, covered up with a blanket and ate myself into a "coma". These days, I deal my going to the gym. I just registered for my first 5k. It's only in 2 weeks and I know I'll not be completely prepared for it, but I needed to do it just to do it. - 10/30/2010   2:04:53 PM
  • 15
    I had not heard about this man and his running but what courage he had...awesome! - 10/30/2010   1:37:50 PM
  • 14
    What an amazing story of courage and perseverance! I believe that exercise does relieve stress! I have been exercising for years, but I wasn't always eating right! I feel the two together can cut down on your stress levels and make you a more confident individual! If I don't exercise on a particular day, I just don't feel whole! So hats off to Mr. Pena! You are an inspiration to us all! - 10/30/2010   1:04:20 PM
  • 13
    What an inspirational blog! This blog definitely got me from my couch and had me running on the treadmill. Thanks - 10/30/2010   12:50:55 PM
  • 12
    I was just commenting to the DH how I need to find a race to train for - I have not been running and am sooo stressed! Bad bad feeling - so I need to lace up and get going! It helps so much. Thanks for the reminder Nancy! - 10/30/2010   12:48:54 PM
  • 11
    my honey is an underground coalminer, so i was glued to the tv, we had talked about what it would be like for those men, and how he would have coped had he been in that situation, its great this man and all the men made it out, and are doing so well, wishing them all the best. and all of you as well. - 10/30/2010   12:47:49 PM
  • 10
    Good reminder that life's daily duties and challenges aren't an excuse to delay exercise. Keeping active helps us get through those!! If that miner can make time to stay fit, against odds I don't think I could even begin to figure out how to survive, there is no reason I can't make that same effort above ground. THANKS for the reminder! - 10/30/2010   12:32:57 PM
  • 9
    What a motivational blog! Thank you! - 10/30/2010   12:25:42 PM
  • 8
    Ten months ago I would have ignored this blog thinking exercise is just not for me......I never get the exercise "high" promised, it wears me out and makes me sore. No more. I've been walking with some jogging thrown in and strength training for almost 10 months and I can't believe the difference in my life. I am happy almost all the time. I've lost 90 pounds. I can walk/jog 10 miles.....half of it up hill. One of my first thoughts in the morning is how long a walk do I have time for NOT will I make pancakes or french toast for breakfast. I even keep a mini trampoline in my family room and will jog on it when the weather is too rainy on hot or just to get in a few more steps! I will admit it took months of regular exercise to get to the point. Stick with it and exercise will pay off in so many ways! - 10/30/2010   11:39:54 AM

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