I'm just like you. And that's okay!
Fall Seven Times, Stand Up Eight.
I feel like I’m plodding clumsily through my life worse than I ever have while running.
Aside from a handful of laps around the University track last week, I haven’t run in 2-1/2 weeks. I am by no means a mileage hound but let me tell ya, it feels more like 2-1/2 months. Add to that the anxiety of missed long runs building up to that monumental 26.2 and you get an even bigger feeling of defeat. Well, I get that feeling, anyway.
I am one of those people who cannot seem to function without several metric tons of “things to do” on her shoulders. I have convinced myself that not only do I like it, I’m also good at it. That said, I almost always find it difficult to see the Too Much Line. You know the border I’m talking about. It’s the one that only takes a pinky toe stepping over to make your entire being collapse under the self-inflicted weight. Well, congratulations to me, I’ve done it again.
With an unexpected job loss in June of this year, I tried to turn a frown upside down by thinking of all the time I’d have to do all the things I’d never been able to do while working. And besides, you know what they say about idle hands…
I’ll be able to focus more on school!
I will have the most sparklingly clean house!
I can plan an EPIC first birthday party for The Boy!
I’ll have time to train for the full St. Jude Marathon!
I’ll be able to spend more time with my family!
I can start that blog I’ve always wanted to write!
I can use the blog to help raise money for St. Jude!
I can put together a GIVEAWAY!
And so it began.
Then I remembered, after I’d jumped feet first into everything, that everything was happening at once. My giveaway launch? The week school started. Family in from overseas for The Boy’s birthday? The week school started. My son’s birthday? The week school started. And oh, yeah, there’s that marathon thingamajig.
Thus my optimistic determination became rabid desperation:
SHOVE EVERYTHING IN A CLOSET OR IN THE MASTER BEDROOM AND SHUT THE DOOR.
DO I HAVE TO RUN TOMORROW? DO I HAVE TIME TO RUN TOMORROW?
VACUUM AND PRETEND THAT MAKES EVERYTHING BETTER.
WHEN DO WE PICK UP YOUR PARENTS?
TURN OFF THE LIGHTS AND BURN SOME CANDLES, YOU CAN’T SEE DIRT AND MESS IN THE DARK.
CRAP, DID I ORDER THE WRONG BOOK?
DO WE HAVE CHOCOLATE CAKE MIX?
I’M RUNNING TOMORROW IF IT KILLS ME.
WHEN’S THE LAST TIME I POSTED ON THE BLOG?
I DON’T SPEAK FRENCH, THAT’S WHY I’M TAKING A CLASS!
WOULD IT BE BETTER TO COLOR MY OWN ICING OR JUST BUY IT PRE-MADE?
WHY DO I HAVE TO TAKE A FOREIGN LANGUAGE WHEN I HAVE TO READ CHAUCER?
I AM GOING TO RUN TOMORROW.
You would think after cyclically doing this my entire life that I’d have somehow learned a lesson about balance. I think it’s a lot like the year or so after running a marathon. Your body/mind has time to forget the agony and you regain your sense of, “I CAN TOTALLY DO THIS NO PROBS!” My breaks from school end up working much the same way.
I’m not sure how, but I always forget that being a Literature major means reading. A lot. And writing. A lot. As a new parent – even after an entire year – the fact that I can rarely get anything domestic done during the day (or night) somehow slips my mind. Creative projects? Fugettaboutit. Studying? Are you kidding me? Blogging? Hah! I might be able to piece together some form of writing by the time I get to stare at the back of my eyelids at night. If I’m lucky, I can even get some school reading done after the kid is in bed.
If I can rest enough to run the next day I’m even luckier.
That brings me to perhaps the most poignant stressor of them all. For the last 12 months, with the exception of about three (non-consecutive) weeks’ worth of days, we have not slept more than 2-6 (non-consecutive) hours per night. I really and truly wish I were exaggerating. The Boy hasn’t slept well since birth and we’re still working on it. We seem to be on an upswing this week but it’s difficult to keep hope alive when we’ve been fooled before. At this point we take what we can get and try not to lose our minds. Some of us are doing better at that than Others (Some being my husband and Others being me).
Sleep deprivation is a sneaky thing. It seems entirely unfair that you can never truly “catch up” on lost sleep but not catching enough Zs is cumulative. After a while, you are tricked into believing your body has acclimated when the truth is, study after study has shown that over time brain function is compromised, reaction time is lessened, and physical fitness is hindered.
Sleep Deprived Runner ≠ A Healthy Runner (more on this to come, stay tuned)
I attempted to keep up with my training through all the hullabaloo of the past few weeks but in the end I just decided to sit it out. While I am not at all happy with having missed such a big chunk of mileage, I think it was the smart thing to do. I still have plenty of time to get back at it and my mental and physical well-being are absolutely worth it.
So here I am, trying once again to re-arrange my marathon training plan (thank you, Runner’s World for Smart Coach!) to make up for lost time and lost mileage. I’ve been struggling with the Depression Monster a bit through all this and trying to stay as positive as I can. What makes it more difficult is knowing that I’m the one who gave my life the performance edge to overtake me in that last lap around the track.
No one forced me to sign up for any of it – the marathon, the blog, school, parenthood (though I did NOT sign up for a year of sleeplessness, just to be clear), or any of the other projects I piled onto my back. I can’t help being the aspiring, determined, dedicated, and…okay, stubborn person that I am. What I can do is make the best of it.
And no matter how often I stumble along my path, I will always stand up again. I will always keep running.
How do you balance stress, rest, and training?
Do you struggle with feeling defeated during a “forced” break from running?