Monday, April 6, 2015

... just that something so good just can't function no more ...

(or - why I broke up with running for a month)

You guys, I love running. I hate it a little bit sometimes, but running really brings a lot of balance to my life.

Pencil on paper drawing. Inspired after a tired run, falling over and getting a bloody knee. :) I love running but....some days it hurts.

Running brings structure. Running is an outlet for all of the anxiety and feelings and worry I carry with me daily. Running helps me feel confident in what my body can do, and in what I can do in other areas in my life. Running squashes anger. Running eases the blues. Running gives me time to process. Running helps with adult ADD. Running makes my stressful teacher/grad student/landlord/mom to chronically ill cat/secret perfectionist life more manageable. Running, frankly, helps me feel proud of myself. Which is a huge thing for someone who almost never feels proud of themselves. It's cheaper than therapy and better for you than wine and doesn't put you at risk of tipsy texting.

But alas, running started letting me down in late February/early March. I got the flu (eased somewhat by having the vaccine) at a critical point in my training cycle. I tried to train (and taper) while sick. The weather was horrible. Work piled up, Grad school got harder. I wasn't making the gains I wanted in pace/strength. I didn't 'look' like a runner in my mind's eye. I ran my marathon - my first ever - on a day when I had been fever-free for about 72 hours and took DayQuil the morning of. I probably should not have run, but I did anyway. My time was crappy. And sometime between crossing the finish line and eating pizza I had a moment when I thought running and I should see other people. After a moderately good 5K time just a week after my marathon, I felt it in my bones - it was time to take a break.


Some of my issue was due to poor coping after a bad race. To be fair, this was my first BAD race experience. Other complicating factors included me being a perfectionist, and what happens to your body in the last leg of training for such a long race. The taper crazies are real, and include weight gain that I find to be mentally derailing. And there is such a thing as PMS - post-marathon syndrome. You think I would have read about this earlier on. Symptoms include the following - 

  • Sudden, unexplained feeling of sadness - CHECK.
  • Feeling of a lack of aim/purpose in the immediate future - CHECK
  • Negative thoughts accompanied by low energy levels and loss of appetite - CHECK
  • Extended sleep hours where you sometimes sleep for hours at a stretch - CHECK
  • Feelings of anxiety, irritability and hopelessness - CHECK
  • Difficulty in concentrating on day-to-day tasks - CHECK
  • Yikes. But when you use running to deal with ADD/anxiety/whatever-the-hell-else time off can be difficult. And when running and I broke up, my post-marathon blues turned into unbalanced craziness and sleeping for what felt like days.

    It was not a good look. And it took a while to recover.

    I think I am finally back in a good place and willing to admit that while I could have done better, I am pretty darn proud of myself. I am proud of my body. And I am glad that I was able to learn more about how my body works and the role exercise plays in my mental health. I learned who helps in my training, when to stop, and when to keep going. I finished a marathon. I didn't poop myself, die, or get picked up by the struggle bus. One more thing I can cross off the list of things I never thought possible for me to accomplish.

    Did @fabletics #positivitypinsweeps

    One of these days I want to run another marathon, I actually have one kinda picked out. And I also have another I dream of finishing. But those are goals I am putting on the back burner as I ease myself into a more mindful training cycle for summer races - and I'm setting goals that will help me stay on track and away from PMS - for good! Right now I am training up for a half marathon in Asheville, another in Greenville, and possible races in Savannah and a possible birthday half. I want to train well and give my body what it needs to recover and bounce back from training. I also want to keep up with my 2015 in 2015 challenge.

    So true....this is how I felt with my first half-marathon in 2013. Hoping for a full marathon in 2014.

    Running is an essential part of my self-care, and a big part of my life right now. Taking some time off and seeing the (drastically) sucky effects on my day to day lead me to believe it is a habit I will continue to indulge in. 

    Excuse me - gotta put out my tights for tomorrow morning!

    QotD - What makes you better/stronger? What happens when you don't 'indulge' in that for a while?