How running helped with his depression

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Somewhere in the back of his mind, software programmer Carlo Valdez knew something was wrong. He was hot-headed most of the time, constantly arguing with friends and family. It must have also rankled that they kept pointing out that he was gaining weight.

People he knew or was close to had succumbed to COVID, and he was left feeling drained. In a Facebook post earlier this year and made visible only to friends, he narrated how 2021 had been the “hardest year” for him.

Ken Mendola giving Valdez his workout pace.

His decision to have himself checked came when he felt something in his chest and consequently had difficulty breathing.

“I thought it was just my asthma acting up, but my nebulizer didn’t help much,” Valdez told Lifestyle.

He went for a psychiatric evaluation, and was diagnosed with panic disorder and persistent depressive disorder. His doctor prescribed medication and he underwent 32 psychiatric sessions from January to September.

By the end of his sessions, Valdez decided he wanted to take up running again.

Software programmer Carlo Valdez said 2021 was the “hardest year” for him.

Before the pandemic, he had already been running but admitted to not being very particular about the numbers, or of setting and meeting any personal goals.

Running modes

He then reached out to running coach Ken Mendola, who let him run 5 kilometers to check his form and pace. Mendola then asked Valdez when he was willing to run (specific days) and if he would make time to run. Under Mendola, Valdez would do three running modes: easy runs, tempo runs that were high-paced but of shorter duration, and long runs that were slower but took longer. Depending on his runners’ capabilities, Coach Ken or CK sets personalized time limits, which he monitors based on their running watches.

“In a way, running for me is similar to dealing with depression,” Valdez said. “Goals are set and there are specific things I need to fix or remove from my life because they are triggering and toxic. I make time to run by limiting time spent playing on my computer. To see improvement, there also needs to be consistency.”

Valdez with his pace group: Sienna Flores, Jenn Andres and Nessie Cali

As part of his therapy, Valdez was told by his doctor to mend his relationships with his family. “I learned that I needed to help myself. I think that running has been beneficial because when I’m running, my mind feels calmer. I’m focused on the goal, which is to finish the run within the time set.”

He has only been running for a little over three months but Valdez is already considering joining a marathon.

He joined a virtual one in 2020, but is hoping there will be a local marathon this year. In his Facebook post, he said he was still recovering “but this time, I’m sure I can overcome this,” adding that he was “running my way to 2022 with a better and stronger version of myself.” INQ





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