Running Eased A Trapped Miner's Stress

By , SparkPeople Blogger
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 ½ 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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Awesome...thanks!! Report
LOSER05 1/13/2021
thanks Report
Great story! Report
RAPUNZEL53 6/3/2020
Interesting Report
That is very inspiring! I do find that getting outside to take a walk feels natural to me when im stressed so I guess that suits me. Report
Inspiring Report
Great story, Thanks! Report
Enjoyed this article. Report
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 Report
I make sure I get enough execise to keep my mood high and brain working well for homework assignments and such. Report
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! Report
Totally motivating me!! Thank you for blogging this! Report
Great story! A true inspiration! Report
This whole story is a miracle Report
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. Report
Good Blog....I do exercise, yoga, if I can, and the pool each working day. I ride my bike as well. Report
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. Report
I go for a walk in the fresh air and it seems to relieve some stress. great blog!!! Report
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. Report
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! Report
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 Report
Great blog.....Great story.................EXCEPTIONAL INSPIRATION!!!! Report
Shows, ANYONE can beat the odds, if you just put your mind to it! amazing! Report
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. Report
The miners have been so inspiring in so many ways. Thank you for sharing this. Report
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. Report
I didn't know this and I'm a runner. Thanks for letting us know. Report
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. Report
Great blog and very inspiring story. A prime example of one of God's miracles. Report
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. Report
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. Report
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. Report
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... Report
Inspiring Report
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. Report
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 Report
There are some amazing people out there! Report
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! Report
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. Report
All I can say is "WOW" Report
Inspirational! Report
Excellent blog! Inspirational Report
Motivating blog! The next time I feel stressed I'm going to put my shoes on and just run! Report
That's really inspiring! Report
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. Report
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. Report
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. Report
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. Report
I'm truly impressed! A lesson to take to heart and act upon. Congratulations to Mr. Pena for demonstrating excellent survival skill! Report