Monday, January 16, 2017

Coming to Terms With Not Running a Race (Again)

At the end of October, I had to skip the Hot Chocolate 15k because I was in too much pain to really run any distance, even short ones. Then last week, I changed my entry from the F^3 Half Marathon to the F^3 5k because I'm not supposed to be running more than a few miles at a time right now. To say that I'm disappointed is an understatement. Even though I know that it is the right decision, I feel like a failure. And I'm worried that this is becoming a trend for me, where I sign up for races and then can't run them. I'm starting to get a little gun shy. There are a lot of races coming up this year that I want to run, but now I'm afraid to register for them because I don't want to have yet another let down if I can't run them.

I really miss winter running.
I admit that I get jealous when I see so many people I know posting about their half marathon training and long runs and speed work while I am stuck cross training and doing short, slow runs. I am happy for my friends who are gaining speed and endurance and crushing their goals, but it is hard not to compare myself to them.

There are days when the "woe is me" thoughts take hold. I've had days recently when I wake up and think, "I'm not a runner, anymore, so why bother." I'm trying to find ways to deal with these feelings, but it isn't always easy. My brain keeps telling me that I'll never get back to where I was, that I'll always be struggling to keep up with everyone else, that I'll never be good enough. Even though these thoughts are hard to ignore, I'm finding ways to deal with them.

Setting new goals. My original goal this winter was to set a new half marathon PR. That is obviously not going to happen now that I've had to switch distances. Instead of having specific running goals at the moment, I have changed to having overall fitness and health goals.  My new fitness goal is simply to regain the fitness that I've lost. I'm working on regaining my strength and endurance and flexibility so that I will be in a better place when I am able to start running again. I've also set goals for overall health, because I've fallen into some bad habits. I'm cooking more at home, getting more sleep, and making sure that I'm well hydrated.

I'd forgotten how much I enjoy cooking.
Making fitness "appointments." It can be hard to get out of bed for a workout when your mind is telling you that it is a pointless endeavor, but knowing that there is another person who is expecting you to show up at a specific time and place makes it a little easier. I've started making plans to workout with friends a couple of times a week, and it has helped me stay on track the last couple of weeks. I'm less likely to skip an early morning or an after work workout when I know that someone else is expecting me because I don't want to let them down. And having someone text you at 5:00am to remind you that you committed to taking a 6:00am spin class with them and they are going to sign you up for a bike as soon as they get to the gym doesn't hurt (thanks, Eileen).

I'm not a morning person, so making sure that there are people waiting for me at the gym gets me out of bed at 5am.
Making recovery a priority. I want to run, so I'm doing everything I can to make sure that I will be setting myself up for success when I start running again. Rather than dwelling on not running the race I signed up for, I'm trying to focus on preventing future injuries. Stretching, foam rolling, and working to strengthen my weak areas have become my priorities.

Behold! My implements of torture! Why does everything that is good for you have to feel so bad?

Monday, January 9, 2017

Where to Go From Here

It took me longer than I would have liked to start running again after my first marathon, causing me to miss a race that I was looking forward to running with some friends (Hot Chocolate 15k). Once I started again, I jumped right into training for the F^3 Half Marathon, which is coming up at the end of this month. Sadly, it looks like my attempts to grab a new half marathon PR will have to wait a while longer, as it looks like I won't be able to run yet another race.

I've recently started hurting again, and after a visit to the physical therapist it looks like I need to shift my focus a bit. Instead of doing speed work and long runs, I need to focus on fixing my form and correcting the various muscle imbalances before they lead to serious injury. I have been very fortunate not to have been completely side lined by injury, but if I continue to run through the pain, then that could change.

Thankfully, I don't have to stop running completely. Though the bulk of my cardio should be non-running (time to hit those spin classes again), I've been told that I can still run as long as I keep it to no more than a couple of times a week and go short and slow. Instead of focusing on getting a PR or building mileage, I need to focus on strengthening my hips and glutes. I also need to make stretching and foam rolling a priority again, which means no more rushing through everything post workout. I've even been advised that regular massages could help. Basically, I need to start working on actively preventing injury instead of waiting to treat an injury after it occurs. 

I really want to be able to start running again this spring and then start really training again this summer, so I can't sit around waiting to feel better. And, just to add to my already full plate, I would like to lose some of the weight that I've gained. I was feeling and running my best about two years ago, when I was about 20 lbs lighter than I currently am. The cause of my weight gain is easy to pin point. I went from eating little to no processed food and cooking most of my meals at home to eating a lot of processed junk food and getting delivery or carry out far more often than I should. 

I want and need to be able to really start running again this spring and then start really training again this summer, so I can't sit around waiting to feel better. I need to actively work to get strong and healthy again. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Let's Get Real

It should come as no surprise that 2016 was a struggle for me. I really didn't post much, though I keep promising to post more frequently and provide better content. Between injuries slowing me down and work continuing to pile more and more stress on my shoulders, 2016 was a year of strain and worry and pain. Add in an oh so fun combination of depression and anxiety and it made for a pretty awful year.

I greatly neglected this blog for the past year, because I didn't really know what to say. I wanted to keep this blog strictly about running and not delve too much into my own personal issues, but those personal issues greatly impact my running. It is hard to get in a quality run when you barely have the energy to get up and get dressed.

I didn't want to write about the deep well of pain and sadness in which I found myself for large swaths of time. I didn't want to broadcast to the world that I felt too overwhelmed to get out of bed some days or that simply going to work used all the energy I had and I couldn't bring myself to do anything else but crawl back into bed when I got home. I kept making promises about new posts, new trainin plans, new race recaps...promises that I just couldn't keep when I was using so much energy to just function as a human most days.

I've struggled with depression and anxiety for most of my life, but 2016 really hit me hard and then continued to pummel me. My main  hope for 2017 is that things will turn around, or at the very least that I'll be better able to manage things and ask for help when it is desperately needed. I'm feeling better, but I know I have more work to do. Every day presents unique challenges, and instead of trying to hide behind a mask of normalcy and pretending that everything is fine, I want to be more honest about what I am going through.

Buckle up, friends, it is going to be a bumpy ride.