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Allow Yourself To Feel: How Endurance Sports Opened Me Up

Allow Yourself To Feel: How Endurance Sports Opened Me Up by Aum Gandhi for Run Tri Bike Magazine

Growing up, I found myself immediately in a situation where I didn’t feel like my feelings mattered. The adult dynamics in the household were selfish, abusive, and manipulative. As a child, words like that aren’t in your dictionary. The environment you grow up in is the environment you normalize. For me, an environment of poverty, manipulation, and narcissism turned me into a human being that constantly pandered to the emotions of others. From the onset, I had to grow up fast. In the process of all this, I lost my allowance to feel. How could you allow yourself to feel when you had to make sure to manage the moods of others? There was no room for my emotions, so I buried them.

I Continued To Bury my Emotions in Eating and Drinking

First, I turned to food for comfort. As our lifestyle improved, I found myself addicted to the easy foods I grew up on. These foods became my comfort, to the point where I would black out and binge on them. This amplified my body image issues. As explained in my body dysmorphia article, I turned to the other end of the spectrum and became extremely skinny in college. Then, I turned to drinking. Burying my emotions became a pattern I couldn’t escape. Eventually, it became a habit I couldn’t break that manifested itself in heavy drinking and reckless ultrarunning. Despite the dangers of the way I first ran in endurance sports, I knew this was a journey I had to take. 

Endurance Sports Opened Me Up 

I will not stand here and condone the way I took on ultrarunning as the sole reason I had any value on this earth, but it was what I needed at the time. The loss of a childhood friend and two dear hiking friends, my relentless travel for work, and an unhealthy relationship put me over the edge once more in 2020. This time, I found myself burying myself in ultrarunning and drinking. For some time, I drank, ran, and worked. That was all I did. During this period, I have friends who can attest to checking up on me after drinking an entire bottle of rum and puking all over myself in bed. I have friends who can attest to me drinking hard the night before, then excusing myself to run 10 miles the next morning with a hangover. As the miles went up and I found myself on the trails, I had more questions than answers. Who was I? There was a fire growing inside me and I didn’t know how to contain it. Then, I stopped containing it. 

I Stopped Drinking and Opened Up

One day in April a week after my first 100 in 2021, I woke up hungover on a work trip and decided I never wanted to feel that way again. I stopped drinking. The rest of 2021 and 2022 took me through a gauntlet of ultras that opened me up. I cried for the first time since I was truly an adolescent. I wondered where all this pain was coming from. How much was I burying deep inside me? Clearly, there was a lot to unearth. Lessons in my life have come through trial and error. During this time, many errors in judgment were made. I became dependent on running and when I DNFed the Moab 240, I received a rude awakening once more. At the end of the day, I’m grateful. 


Why would anyone be grateful for raw emotions, puking, and hurt? Life is truly a funny thing in that regard. These were steps I needed to take to open up and continue to unearth more of myself. Ultrarunning is therapeutic, but it is not therapy. Saying that line does not take away from the importance endurance sports has had in opening me up. Allow yourself to feel. This was something endurance sports taught me through movement. Without it, I would neither be writing this article nor reaching out for help for my emotions. Despite struggles with the relevance of my emotions, I wouldn’t have made it this far without endurance sports.


Aum Gandhi Run Tri Bike Magazine Co-Owner

Aum Gandhi is a social media manager, content writer, and co-owner of Run Tri Bike. An active ultrarunner, Aum has a palpable love for the sport and the trail community. His purpose in all his professional and personal activities is to inspire others by leaving a positive impact. Aum maintains a personal blog on his website in which he shares both his running exploits and features of energizing endurance athletes to all audiences. In his free time, you’d probably catch Aum reading, crewing at races, playing video games, out on the trails, or watching NBA Basketball.