Hitting the snooze button
|June 12, 2023||Posted by Melinda under Uncategorized|
The snooze button on my running is usually about 2 years.
This is the third time I’ve taken a significant running break.
I keep wondering: Do I miss running, or do I miss the person I was when I was running?
I think some of the nostalgia about hobbies that you have done in the past has more to do with the place you were in your life at that time than the activity itself. The people you were with, the structure of your life at that time, or the way you physically felt – real or imagined.
One reason that I’m no longer interested in endurance is because I realized what I missed wasn’t actually endurance. I missed the person I was prior to vet school. The one without a job that requires constant boundary fence mending. The person that could spend all weekend away from home at a conditioning ride or an endurance event and not have to make those weekends an “occasional thing” because it makes the other partner into a single parent. I also realized that I really only wanted to do endurance if I could do it with Farley. The spark just fizzled and sputtered when I tried to do it with other horses.
That doesn’t mean that I want to go back and live that period of my life again – I love my life now! But, realizing that I actually did not miss endurance riding and instead was missing a time and person that I would never be again was what I needed to move on to other things without regret or resentment.
What about running?
Do I miss running, or the person I was before the autoimmune disease and chronic pain, who could see out of both eyes and fly downhill with perfect depth perception?
I’ve been gentle with myself as I try to figure out the answer to this question because I want to run because it’s the right thing for me right now, not because it was who I was 5 years or a decade ago.
Here’s some things I’m considering as I consider running in my future.
In the two years since I logged a significant training run I’ve finally recognized that so much of my daily pain in the last year of running wasn’t running-related at all, but due to an autoimmune disease (final diagnosis unclear, “PMR-similar” is the closest I have right now). It makes me wonder whether my DNF’s in my last year of running was actually due to autoimmune disease and not training factors. Huh. Not having the nutritional demands of long mileage, has given me some room to experiment with my food and my auto immune disease seems to be at least partially diet-responsive. And…at least least partially exercise-responsive (in a good way) as well.
I’ve also realized just how disordered my eating was, enabled by distance running. There’s never been a time where running and eating were not inexorably linked in my mind. Even the original reason I took up running in my teens was based in body dysmorphia and disordered eating. That’s over 20 years in a cycle of binge and restrict that running both drove and hid. I’ve been working on bits and pieces of this issue for a while, even before the running break, butI truly believe that taking an almost-voluntary break from running was the only way to fully identify and reckon with this, and attempt to finally once and for all divorce this relationship between running and food in my brain. It’s taken 2 years but I finally have a functional frame work for fueling and nutrition that I *think* will hold up even after I add running back in.
This isn’t the first time I’ve hit the snooze on running (this is probably the third time in almost 25 years). But it’s the first time that the chatter in my head during the break has been useful and kind instead of judgmental and negative (look how out of shape you are getting. None of your clothes are going to fit. You won’t ever achieve those running goals you have. You have to start running to make any progress in who and what you are. )
Dear Reader, I’ve been doing good work in this two years. Right now the most pressing questions I have about continuing to run have nothing to do with self-worth or goals. That negative chatter is so faint I can’t even hear it anymore.
That in itself seems like a foot on the right path.
Last weekend I took another step on that path and went out for a long run.
A friend said “how about a run this weekend?” She’s not local and is just starting to fall in love with trail running and this is my chance to show off my favorite trails before she heads back to Southern California.”
“Sure. How about *three hours?” me, not wanting to disappoint her with something hardly worth the 45 minute drive, but knowing that three hours was probably my absolute limit doing this run cold turkey with last weekend’s ride and tie as my only recent training.
*Afterwards I found out that she thought three hours was absolute insane amount of time to spend running on the trail, but she didn’t want to tell me. She set both a distance and a time running PR. Oopsie….(#sorrynotsorry)
Getting back out there for the run was so familiar and also so foreign.
I had forgotten the struggle to get clothes off and on past run. How the clean clothes stick to my body so that a “quick change….NOW because no one is driving up” turns into a bare ass hopping struggle on tired legs to cover the nether regions with clothes as people drive by and we all pretend it isn’t happening.
I had forgotten how truly awful the pain can be at the end of a long run. At 2 1/2 hours I thought “this would have been a good stopping point. Thank goodness I only have 30 more minutes to go.” At 3 hours I realized I had gravely misjudged the distance of my alternative return trail “I’m-sure-timewise-this-will-be-the-same” since I have a hatred of true out-and-backs and I was going to have to keep running for 30 more f*cking minutes. And…I couldn’t pansy myself out of this because my friend and I had waved good bye to each other with cheery cries of “see you at the car in 3 hours!” and if I was in her shoes, I would give it 20-30 minutes before starting to worry.
The good news. Guess who had the car keys? Me.
The bad news. Guess where her phone was? In my locked car.
So instead of pitifully shuffling in I had to *actually continue to run*.
I had forgotten how laying down in the grass and groaning at the end of the run doesn’t actually make the calf cramps go away. It just makes you look like road kill.
But unlike returning to endurance, the actual run itself as I pitter-patted down the trail slipped on like a familiar and well-fitted glove.
Despite what I may have forgotten or glossed over since the last time I played on these trails, it didn’t feel strange and awkward.
It felt like home.