Running to Ease Social Anxiety

3 reasons it worked for me

Nicole Linke
Published in
5 min readFeb 17, 2020


Photo by Hunter Bryant on Unsplash

When I was 21 years old, I started running, and it was purely for physical reasons. I wanted to lose fat. Of course, everyone knows that exercise does wonders for your health, but that didn’t matter to me at that point. On a scale of 1–10, my self-esteem was a solid -5, and I couldn’t care less about the health of my body. I just wanted to look good for others.

Little did I know that running had the power to change my life.

When I started running, I was a loner and suffered from an intense fear of people. I couldn’t point to a single activity I was good at.

Today I am confident about my abilities. I can hold a conversation. I can go out with friends and enjoy myself thoroughly.

Running was the catalyst for me to turn my life around.

Here are three reasons why.

Improved self-esteem

How do you increase self-esteem? By doing things that make you feel good about yourself. For me running was “that thing.” I went from not being able to run for longer than ten minutes to running almost daily and completing several marathons.

My fitness improved, and so did my self — esteem.

With every drop of sweat I left on the trail, I left a piece of the insecure me behind. With each kilometer added to my weekly mileage, my trust in my capabilities grew.

Feelings of pride crept in.

I knew that I was in charge. My achievements were not dependent on other people. Only I was responsible for how much work I put in. How much I ran. How far I ran.

Most importantly, no one had the right to judge if I was good enough. No one assigned a grade to my running anymore. In school, physical education was the subject where all of your classmates knew how you performed.

And everyone knew I sucked.

I was laughed at, ridiculed, and of course, always the last to be chosen to join a team. Intense anxiety was a constant companion. How often I skipped school when PE was on the schedule, I don’t remember. It was enough to cause the remark “in danger of failing” to appear on my school report. Every year…



Nicole Linke
Invisible Illness

I talk about developing strength in body and mind. | Ultrarunner | Ultrarunning Coach | Newsletter: