Average Jane Runs

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…

Excitedly I listed the possibilities:

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?

THE NEXT TIME I DECIDE TO CUT OUT AND ASSEMBLE 360 PIECES OF PIXEL ART PLEASE SLAP ME IN THE FACE.

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?

14 Responses to “Fall Seven Times, Stand Up Eight.”

  • Julianne says:

    “And no matter how often I stumble along my path, I will always stand up again. I will always keep running.”

    If you had written nothing else in this post those words up there are the ones I admire you for the most. Now that whole sleep-deprived, mother of an infant, who is STILL getting out there running as often as she can thing all I can say is: DAYUM GIRL!
    You have my ultimate respect!

  • Alisa says:

    I’m not laughing… I’m… chuckling. Oh boy, have I been there! There’s nothing that can derail you faster than the belief that you’ll have so much time on your hands, and the corresponding overcommitment that comes with it.

    And I’m with you on the sleep deprivation. My kiddo didn’t really sleep through the night until 17 months, which was about 14 more than I’d bargained for. Nearly lost my mind in the process. You can’t plan for that.

    Hang in there and know that you’re not alone!

    • AJ says:

      It’s good to know there’s someone out there who feels that pain. Most of my other friends and acquaintances with kids had a sleeping-through-the-night kid by 6-9 months. I figured he’d take longer being that he was breast fed but I sure thought we’d be out of the “newborn” sleep patterns by NOW. Crossing our fingers this week, we’ve actually had some progress.

      And no, there’s no way to prepare for the effects of sleep deprivation. You just kind of have to trudge through it. Having a good support system helps, not sure how I’d have made it without the hubs on my team!

  • Kara says:

    A few missed runs don’t mean anything in the big picture. The consistent dedication to running that will push you to the 26.2 miles! You’re going to be fine :)

    • AJ says:

      I know you’re right. It’s just really hard to not get defeated sometimes. I feel like the “expendable” commitment in my life always ends up being training/running and I hate that!

  • Joy says:

    My mom was just lecturing me on balance this morning. :) I always have this desperate sense that EVERYTHING needs to happen NOW because life is short and there’s just not enough time to fit everything in so I need to make every second count. (Does this mean I don’t waste any time? Of course not. Witness: Twitter and Facebook.) Apart from the kid, I can totally commiserate. Trying to juggle work, school, husband, household and training, let alone a child, is enough to make me want to hide in bad for a long time some days. Especially when the weather turns icky. Make sure your nutrition is good and you’re not Vitamin D deficient – that was a big one for me, and tons of people are. And good luck with everything! I’m sure it will all come together when it counts. :) And just think of what a great example you can set for your child, being a strong, fit woman!

    • AJ says:

      “because life is short and there’s just not enough time to fit everything in so I need to make every second count”

      I definitely feel this way a lot, too. I just wish I didn’t want to do EVERYthing. :D I’m slowly learning that life’s too short not to live it. :)

      I have a hard time with nutrition, especially with being in classes two days a week. My food choices are generally good (or at least the lesser evil when I don’t have much selection), I just tend to not eat enough while I’m on campus (which is the majority of the day). I do take supplements, though, and try to bring portable, healthy snacks along in my bag. But I don’t always remember.

      And thanks, I am hoping to set a good example for The Boy…though he is already running circles around us! :)

  • I completely understand where you are, how you feel and even the depression. We know God will not give us more than we can bare, so pray hard for His help. As soon as you get into the groove again, and you will, running will release all your stress and tension. We all have times like these girl! Hang in there. :)

    • AJ says:

      That’s what’s so difficult to get through – knowing that running helps with stress, anxiety, etc. and not being able to do it because of the stress, anxiety, etc.! It’s an unfair Catch-22 for sure.

      I’m nursing what seems to be tendonitis at the moment, too. Someone is telling me to sit down for a minute and regroup, I suppose. ;)

      Thanks for the thoughts and encouragement!

  • Winna says:

    I think that you and I live in the same area. Would you like to meet once or twice a week to run together? If it would help keep you accountable then I will be glad to help. If it would be just another thing to add pressure on top of an already overwhelming schedule then no problem!

    • AJ says:

      At the moment I’m nursing some tendonitis so I can’t run for probably another week. :( I’m also really slow when I can run. :)

      Although I’m thinking of maybe starting an AJR running group (because I need something else, hah!) that maybe meets once a week for runs? Would you be interested in that? I might post a poll about it soon…

      • Winna says:

        That would be fine. I am also very slow so no worries :-)
        I am registered for the St. Jude half and already run with a group on Saturday mornings but if you get a group together or want to run in the afternoons just let me know!


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