June 01, 2020

A Guest Post That Has Me Fan-Girling: The Author of My Favorite Running Memoir

You guys... I can't even tell you how excited I am about today's guest post!

I wrote about an audiobook that I listened to when I did my three month goal of running three miles three times a week (3-3-1). From the very beginning, I was completely hooked. I could not believe how relatable the author was!

Starting as a depressed, overweight, unhappy, middle-age woman, she takes you on her full journey as she becomes a runner. (She actually has bipolar II, the same as I.) She describes every challenge along the way, starting as a very self-conscious walker/runner (she was too embarrassed to run, so she took her dog along to pretend she was walking her dog, and then she'd do little jogs here and there).

I don't want to turn this into a full book review (I wrote more thoughts on this post), but I want to say that YOU NEED TO LISTEN TO OR READ THIS BOOK. (Amazon affiliate link)

 I really loved the audiobook version, because I listened to it while running, and it kept me motivated.) If you are a runner, or are hoping to be a runner, or are in the middle of your running journey, you will find this book to be relatable, inspiring, uplifting, and emotional. Or even if you are interested in mental illness/mental health, you'll enjoy this book as well!

Without further ado, I am thrilled to introduce the author of my favorite running memoir, "Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink"... Nita Sweeney!

Katie generously invited me to write a guest blog post about how running gets easier. After I thanked her, I had to laugh. I mean, I wrote a book about dragging myself off the sofa and out the door, right?

Her question made me ponder. Does getting yourself to go out for a run become easier after you’ve been running for a while?

Yes, and no.

Yes, because you prove to yourself that you can run by running.

Yes, because after a while, you learn what works and what doesn’t work for you.

Yes, because these actions become ingrained and running becomes an integral part of your life.

At least that’s how it worked for me.

Back in 2010, I started “running” by jogging for sixty seconds in a hidden ravine. I leashed up Morgan, our yellow Labrador, so the neighbors would think I was just exercising him and wouldn’t laugh. I had to prove to myself that I could run, and I had to do it by running. There was no other way.

Here, Nita is running with Scarlet; sadly, Morgan (the dog in the book) passed away in 2017.

By starting small and building on gradual progress, I convinced myself I could run. I proved it by showing up again and again. I learned what worked for me, and, over time, those habits became ingrained. I built momentum, expertise and confidence. Running became a natural part of my life and I identified as “a runner.” I came to wonder why I hadn’t begun so much earlier.

So, yes! It definitely got easier.

But sometimes, life gets in the way. That’s where the “no” comes in.

In the months before my running and mental health memoir, Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink was published, the demands of completing and marketing the book increased more than I could have imagined.

As a result, I cut back on running. Instead of five runs a week, I dropped to four, then three, and eventually, just two. And yes, I find it ironic that, after writing a book about how running helps me stave off anxiety and combat depression, I cut back on running.

Once the book had been out for five months, I was still only running two days a week. The low moods and heart palpitations crept back. I needed to run more. So, I signed up for two races many months away, hoping the training plans for those would provide structure. I also began doing low heart rate training to keep my stress hormone levels low.

Then, during the second California leg of my book tour, when I had five readings in three days, my husband, Ed, came down with pneumonia which caused a heart attack which landed him in the hospital where they discovered severe triple vessel disease which required open heart surgery after he first got over the pneumonia.

And yes, I wrote that run-on sentence on purpose because that’s exactly how it felt.

Ed, Nita's VERY supportive husband, sporting a sweatshirt he wears to all her races!

The bypass part of the surgery went well, but he came out of surgery unable to swallow. After two weeks in the hospital, he was sent home on a 24/7 gastric feeding tube. With little or no warning, life transformed me from an award-winning author and marathoner into an accidental home health aide. We had actual home health aides, the trained and licensed and certified kind, but only for a few hours each week. The rest of the time, he required my care.

And then there was that little matter of the pandemic.

Both of my races were cancelled.

I had little time and less motivation to run. Two days a week turned into zero. I stopped running altogether.

Thankfully, Ed is headed toward a full recovery. And we’re privileged to live in a neighborhood where I can run safely. But that time off from running made me feel like a beginner again. It was as if I’d never run a step before. Neither my wall full of medals nor our Labrador retriever, sitting in front of the closet where we keep the leash, were enough to get me out the door.

But remember that book I wrote about how to get going when you’re stuck on the sofa? Thankfully, I’m still marketing it. Even more thankfully, race directors on podcasts ask me questions like, “How did you get going when you were stuck on the sofa?” Their questions remind me and that restores some of my confidence.

Nita finishing her first 5K race, Steps for Sarcoma, in 2010

Here’s the tricky part. I don’t know what will work for you. You must figure that out. Instead of telling you what to do, I’ll offer some questions that might help:

Do you need structure? Enlist some friends. Promise someone you’re going to run X number of miles or for X period of time. Text them and say, “I’m going out now. Don’t text me back! I’ll text you when I’m done.” You’ll owe them an explanation if you didn’t run. Peer pressure can be wonderful.

Do you thrive on challenges? There are so many virtual opportunities. Dare your friends to set new distance or pace goals. Ask them to train hard while you do. Or pit yourself against a bunch of random strangers in an online group. If you need that adrenaline pump, find it.

Do you need to help others? Many charities offer virtual 5Ks or other challenges to support their causes. Find one that touches your heart and send a few bucks their way to provide the incentive you need.

Do you need a change? How about a new running route, a fresh pair of shoes, or running at a different time of day. Some people benefit by changing it up. If you can safely drive to a park or trail you don’t normally use, that might entice you to get out the door. Or the new kicks might be just the thing you need. Whatever it is, you’re worth it.

Or maybe you need to choose a goal so small you can’t fail. This is where I was.

Even as Ed recovered, the trauma of our experience alongside so much worldwide trauma wore me to the bone. I was exhausted and frail. I didn’t have the willpower to train hard or push myself to a PR. The new shiny thing didn’t lure me and I already had oh so many pairs of shoes.

Knowing this about myself, I eased back into running by putting on my shoes, jogging around our basement, and calling that a win.

And guess what! As I moved from slow jogging in the house to trotting around the neighborhood with the dog, it’s gotten easier! Consistency built momentum and confidence, the same way it did when I began running so many years ago.

And now, I can’t wait to get out the door.

Nita while running her first full marathon

Nita Sweeney is the award-winning author of the running and mental health memoir, Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink and coauthor of the writing journal, You Should Be WritingNita coaches creatives in writing and meditation, blogs at Bum Glue, and publishes the monthly email newsletter, Write Now Columbus. She lives in central Ohio with her husband, Ed, and their yellow Labrador retriever, Scarlet.


  1. Wow, what an inspiring post!! I relate to just about every word. It brought tears to my eyes. Thank you Nita and Katie for sharing this inspirational story.

  2. I went for a walk/run today after reading this. It has been a long time and this inspired me to lace up and get out. Thank you

  3. Inspirational. I'm attempting to get back to a healthier weight. My legs have started aching at night just like they did when I was at my heaviest weight back in 2013. I'm starting small to get back into a simple routine of things.

  4. Enjoyable blog read, I’ll be getting that book to listen to sometime soon. We gotta get ready!!!


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