Lakeville native Alisha Perkins is the wife of Twins pitcher Glen Perkins — but so much more. She is a mom to two girls, a philanthropist, an ultra runner, and a newly minted author. In her upcoming book, “Running Home,” Perkins takes a deep dive into the critical role that running has played in her life, particularly in dealing with serious anxiety that once colored her everyday existence.
In a recent conversation, Perkins discussed how she came to discover the positive influence that exercise could have on her mental health, why she felt compelled to share her journey in her new book, and the ways in which she has fallen in love with the Twin Cities’ vibrant running community.
On running distance
I was always a sprinter in high school — anything over 400 meters was super daunting — but after college I would run a mile or two here and there. Then, one day in 2011, when we were in Florida for spring training and our girls were really young and I had been with them all day, every day and kind of losing my mind, Glen came home from the field and I just said, “I’m going for a run.” After my usual two miles, I wasn’t ready to go back home and face reality, so I just kept running and I think for the first time experienced a runner’s high. I was hooked, and it snowballed from there.
On running’s help in dealing with anxiety
I think a lot of moms can relate. After the first child I was feeling a lot of general stress related to the responsibility of having a kid, but when that didn’t wear off and I was having thoughts that were just irrational, more so than typical first-time parent stress, I started to realize something was a little off. It wasn’t too long after that I went to a therapist and finally was able to put a word to what I was feeling, and that was “anxiety.” At first I was against medication — I eventually went on medication — but I was also looking for other alternatives. That day I went running in Florida, something happened. It was this huge let-down of all this adrenaline coursing through me and it just calmed me. My body tends to ramp it up for the smallest things, and my biggest anxiety release is a release of adrenaline. Something happens when I run — I’m a better mom, wife, daughter and friend.
On running in the Twin Cities
You hear it time and again that Minnesota, and especially the Twin Cities, is one of the healthiest, most active places in the country. With the lakes and all the trails, there are so many opportunities to get out and be active. Mill City Running is one wonderful example of what the running community in Minnesota looks like. The fact that they attract over 100 people at 6 a.m. every Friday for a run and pancakes is ridiculous. There’s just something about runners. When you’re out running and you see someone running toward you, you smile and wave because they understand what you’ve put aside to be out there: Jobs, kids, family. You’re all out there together. There’s an unspoken kinship.
On writing a book
In October 2014, I sat down to write about my anxiety for my blog. It was my “come clean” piece where I wanted to offer the same transparency as I had been when I wrote about running. I feel like people sometimes assume things about me being a baseball wife, the wife of a professional athlete in general, so I want to put it out there that we experience the same struggles in hopes of maybe helping other people feel a little more comfortable coming to grips with what they were feeling. When I wrote the piece and got this amazing response I just felt like the story wasn’t done, so I kept writing and before I knew it, it had become a book. If nothing else, I hope that it helps people understand that this is nothing to be ashamed of — you don’t have to live with this burden. There’s therapy, medication and running.
On modeling an active lifestyle for her daughters
With Glen doing what he does, he shows how important it is to be active, but I wanted them to also see their mom — the female presence in their life — is also accomplishing things and that as a woman and a girl you’re capable of doing the same stuff you see dad doing. They’ve been to almost every race I’ve run, and my oldest even just signed up to do her first half-marathon. It’s a proud moment for me that she has found something that she loves that builds such confidence in her.
What: Alisha Perkins’ book launch party.
When/where: 6 p.m.-8 p.m. May 15, Mill City Running, 411 E. Hennepin Av.
Details: $25, includes a signed book. Proceeds go to Prairie Care Institute. Space is limited. RSVP on her website. Go to bit.ly/perkinsbook. Books can be preordered on Perkins’ site beginning Sunday. The book release date is May 30.
Mackenzie Lobby Havey is a freelance writer from Minneapolis.