01/30/2014 01:20 pm ET Updated Apr 01, 2014

How Running Keeps Me Sane

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I was going through the different running mixes that I had created over the past few years, and they really show what I was going through at any given time. Before the divorce it was: Ani Difranco, Ray Lamontagne, and Van Morisson. Very melancholy, somber music that allowed me the opportunity to cry and wallow in my emotions while trying to figure out how to leave a bad marriage.

I started running a year before my marriage ended. Even though I convinced myself that I was doing it to exercise and get in shape so that my then-spouse would find me desirable (another story, for another time), I was really using it as an escape. To be outside, by myself, listening to angry music allowed me the freedom to feel my emotions in a way that I couldn't do once I was back home.

After I left the marriage, I began running has much as possible to relieve stress. After hours spent sitting in a small conference room with a mediator, lawyers, and my ex all I wanted to do was hit the pavement and sweat it out. It was during this time that my playlists changed to: Motley Crue, Local H, and White Zombie. The great thing about running for me is that I could spend 4-5 miles getting angry while listening to loud music, but by the time I got back home, everything was OK. I felt like I had sweated all the negative emotions away and that tomorrow was another day.

This past summer my son turned 5, and because his birthday fell on a night that wasn't my "night", I was unable to be with him. When I dropped him off at his father's house that morning and saw his new girlfriend there, I felt sick to my stomach. I was driving back to my house crying and thinking that since I gave birth to him then I should be able to have my son with me on his special day. But, I came home and forced myself to get my running clothes on and just get outside. I began the run by crying and feeling sorry for myself, but by the 3rd mile I realized that it was going to be alright and it was just another bump in the road of divorce.

After taking a few months off of running, I recently got back into it. I put on my running playlist and hit the pavement. But, the music felt all wrong. There was too much screaming and anger. I realized that I had outgrown my previous playlist. Instead of running to relieve stress, I now run because it is the one time in the day when I can be by myself and focus on me. I feel energized after a run, ready to go to work and then rush home to meet the bus on time. I'm still putting together my new playlist, but so far I have: Stevie Wonder, Donavon Frankenreiter, and the Black Keys.

What's on your running music playlist? Please share in the comment section. I'm always looking for new inspiration.