musings on running, life, and everything in between

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When you fall out of love

With running


The usual

It’s been a long hiatus. And to be honest, I’m not sure how often I’ll keep this updated either. It’s tenuous lately. My resurgence of interest in running and such. And the school year is starting, which for some parents is glorious, but for me means the startup of my regular work calendar again. So…here’s a stab.

The last couple of months have been rough. I’ve been pretty straightforward about my ongoing struggle with depression, but it reached a pretty bad low point a few months ago. I think what further compounded it was the fact that I felt like I was doing every possible thing I could to deal with it, but it wasn’t enough. It feels unfair that I have to be doing so much more to stay afloat or feel “normal” (whatever that is) than the average person. Is it a chemical imbalance, family trauma, psychic wounds, blah blah blah? I don’t know. But I cringe every time someone asks me if I exercise or sleep enough or whatever, because I want to scream, “All of it, I do all of it!”

And actually, the last couple of months, even the running has fallen by the wayside. Yes, I’ve been trying to get myself to grind out at least a run or two a week. I had been hating even that minimal amount, though, and was mostly doing it to stave off the creeping weight. I eat ALOT, and mostly run to eat. When you’re not marathon training, it begins to catch up with you. And while it really is probably just 3-5 pounds, it was enough to make me feel worse physically and emotionally. And I realize that nothing was giving me pleasure. I wasn’t interested in anything. Maybe sleep. More B horror movies. Escape. Not life, not my kids, not my writing. Definitely not my running. Nothing that required me to engage.

So I’m trying some new meds and starting to feel better. I’ve even begun ramping back up my running. I’m actually watching the Olympics track and field events. Hitting double digit long runs. Thinking about races. But it’s still a struggle. The new meds make me tired, so early runs have been difficult. I’ve had to play around with dosage and timing to figure out what doesn’t make me feel like I need a 3 hour nap at 10:30 am or that I’m treading mud at 3 pm. Which means running alone and in the awful heat and humidity. I’ll say that running while playing Pokemon Go has helped motivate and distract me (and give me excuses for stopping).

I’m not 100% sure if I’ll stick with these meds or need to get back on that merry-go-round, but for the first time, I’m being pretty open about my struggles with folks. Even the fact that I know a couple of my students read this blog, and I’m talking about this is something. My less-than-perfect behavior has probably been most indicative of my struggles. I’ve had alot of impatience, crankiness, and general snarl near and far. My ability to have any emotional reserve in response to life has been about nil. I’m sane and grounded enough to know (mostly) when I need to make amends for that behavior, but it’s still not fun. It would be better if I just didn’t do it to begin with. And I’m still leaning towards isolation. My general belief of, “If I don’t interact with people, then I won’t have to act out and apologize later” isn’t really a great one.

On the road back from this cycle of depression, I’d realized that I had slowly been socially isolating myself. Other than kid-oriented activities or running with friends, I was engaging in almost no social activities. A friend took me out for dinner in the city, and I realized it had been literal years since I had done that. Years. How did that happen?

So I’m not saying I’m cured, but I felt the impulse to write today. So that’s something. But one could say it’s something for any of us to show up in life today and engage. To do what you can. To try your best. Even watching the Olympics, I thought about all the athletes at the back of the pack. The ones with no chance to win a medal. How do they motivate themselves? How do they push to keep going? How do any of us? But we do. Onwards and upwards friends.

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Battling Fatigue & Re-prioritizing

This last week or so has been an interesting shape-shifting one of trying new things, RE-viewing (as in viewing differently), and trying to figure out what makes everything work for me. I’m working on viewing things positively to off-set the doldrums, but it’s a struggle. And as we move into the bleakness of the winter, I know I’m not alone in my resistance to that internal and external darkness.

I got a chance to go for a gorgeous long run (10 miles) Saturday with a great group of ladies. I think it may have been Jenny’s first real run back with a group on one of the long runs! It was actually still sunrise when we started at Waterfall Glen, but the sun came up quickly and gave us some gorgeous clear blue skies. It was nice to mix up the usual folks I’ve been running with, get out into nature, and not have to do an out-and-back run. The hills were also different. I can’t say that I loved them, but you know, good for you, etc etc. This first photo is one of my favorites, and definitely reminds me that shadows can only exist alongside light.

The obligatory potty stop. Ah, the sexiness of runners. The leaves are still hanging in there, so great colors still enclosing us. Between that and the bright sun, I know this is probably one of the few opportunities left before we go brown and grey. It really was a blessing to get out there on that day.
I actually ended up bringing up the rear with Erin, who kept profusely apologizing for holding me back. I had no desire to go any faster, though. Jenny can’t pace for her life, ha, so she’s always sprinting ahead. She’s fast, and i wasn’t feeling it. So I let the rest of the group pull ahead, while Erin and I kept it right under 9:30. Here’s a pic of Erin waving by to the speedier ladies 🙂It was great to run with Erin as she tends to run super-early with Patty so I don’t run with her much. It also reminded me how restrictive training plans can be when you have to hit certain distances and paces and can’t run with others. I decided it was good to enjoy the runs lately for what they are before training starts up again. I think alot of people face post-race doldrums, and maybe some of it is that, but I’m also trying to really shift my feelings about it. Jen was complaining to me recently that she felt aimless without a plan. While I still feel a little panicky when I look at my calendar and I have no idea what to run, I also feel a freedom in just running as slow as I want. Or doing yoga instead of running. And really just trying to listen to my body. Although, I have to say that I slept funny and my back was tight. I tried to do yoga and 15 minutes in, I think I strained it more. Maybe I should just stick to running after all…

One of the pluses and minuses of Waterfall Glen is that there is water. But it’s a hand-pump and the water tastes like metal.

In other news, my experimenting with diet to combat depression/fatigue continues. I decided that I would try cutting wheat and almost all sugar first to see how I feel. I don’t like the wholesale cutting of grains most diets have you do (especially since not all include gluten), but I’ve noticed that when I eat whole wheat breads, my stomach feels queasy (but not white bread. go figure). This meant, I was pulling out a new tool to cook my spaghetti squash. My parents gave me a pressure cooker when they moved out of state. I’ve never used one. And actually, they said they got it as a gift years ago and had never used/opened it either. HA. I was looking at the Nom Nom Paleo website for some new recipes and saw one for cooking spaghetti squash with a pressure cooker. One thing I dislike about spaghetti squash is the cooking time for it. Using a pressure cooker cut my time in almost a third. Win. And it wasn’t too hard to use! I’ll have to explore more uses for it. I will say, the idea of a pressure cooker is a bit nerve-racking for me. I’m a clutz and over hurried, so I kept envisioning an exploding pot because I didn’t latch something correctly. Fortunately, this did not happen…this time.
I’m not sure this diet is “working” in that I feel less tired/depressed, although most elimination-type diets recommend at least 21 days for any real results. I was actually complaining to someone recently about how it seems like I have alot of things I have to keep in place to deal with fatigue, depression, and general life. And she helped me by re-examining it as the opportunity to live life to the fullest, to do everything you can. We only have one life to live (that we know of anyway!). Instead of seeing it as a burden of one more thing to do, look at it as an opportunity you get to engage in. It sounds great in theory, but it’s different in practice. Still, I found it interesting to think about.

I think all of this internal stuff has gotten me thinking about what is important to me, what the point to what I do is, and what I find rewarding. It’s easy to get wrapped up in competition and numbers and how you’re constantly failing compared to someone else. I realize, though, that you are the only one to live your life. You live in your own head, and you get to dictate the terms of what that space looks like. I can be as crazy as I want and run my mental hamster wheels, or I can refuse to engage in that spinning wheel of death. It’s funny, I’ve recently been thinking about re-reading Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener” and someone brought it up in class last night. His odd passive yet resistant response of “I would prefer not to” is an interesting one. It’s an odd story, but I do think about how we can choose to NOT engage. There is always an option.

Anyone else read that story? Thoughts on engaging or disengaging with the mental noise?