This week is only my second week back to running after my two week break. I started to write a blog about it last week (titled simply, Refreshed), but it felt really forced.
Don’t get me wrong. I DO feel physically refreshed. In fact, this recovery period was better than ever before! For the first time that I can remember, I didn’t get sick during my break. I also returned to running with legs that felt fresh, as opposed to legs that were heavy and still suffering from the effects of healing. I ran 34 miles my first week back, which is a testament to how good I felt. I typically only start with 15 – 20.
But I have felt very off, mentally, and it has taken me about 10 days to unpack why.
Mostly, this feeling is confusing because I do feel emotionally ready to start training again. I always know when I’m not 100% there, because I try to talk myself out of boring base mileage. Instead, I’m actually looking forward to getting out the door every day.
I think my funk began with a visit two weeks ago to see my dietician. I have been working with her for almost a year and a half now. I am very happy that I waited until after the training cycle to see her, because I’m still not where I should be, both nutrition-wise and immune system-wise. Perhaps what was most sobering for me is that I shouldn’t be where I’m at with my food sensitivities, and I certainly shouldn’t be developing new ones (like chickpeas. Somewhere along the line I started developing symptoms towards chickpeas. Wtf.)
During our discussion, she said that all of my symptoms have led her to believe I have a genetic link to more serious gut issues, and asked if anyone in my family had any intestinal problems. As a matter of fact, my dad had his colon removed in his 30’s because of ulcerative colitis. She listed a few other symptoms that I would likely have if that were the case, and they did apply to me. Without going into too many details, it is likely that I have a malabsorption issue. Food isn’t being fully digested, and when combined with leaky gut, it is probable that my immune system does not recognize undigested food particles and attacks them.
So, that was a bit of a wakeup call that left me a little unhappy for a few days.
BUT, the good news is that I am not my dad, there is a wealth of information on gut health that was not available 35 years ago, and I only have pre-cursor symptoms. She suggested I take zinc carnosine and Restore. After a week, I can already see and feel a difference. While I am annoyed/sad/angry/frustrated about these problems, I am happy because there is a solution, and it should lead to better health and better running. Win-win, yes?
However, I think a good way to describe my general attitude right now is salty. Towards everyone. And everything.
Part of it might be the fact that I am really bored. Dave has been out of town for 3 of the past 4 weeks. During my two weeks off, it was *kind of* nice. I read a lot, started a garden, tried tons of new recipes, watched copious amounts of tv, and didn’t feel the need to get off the couch to do trivial things, like shower. But week 3 was when I started to feel particularly bored. When I’m running a normal mileage load, my days are filled with training, writing, walking the dogs, cooking, cleaning, and feeling grateful if I get to watch an episode of House Hunters before I fall asleep.
Yesterday, I ran 6 miles, took the dogs for 65 minutes worth of walking, baked muffins, dusted Dave’s pint glass collection, started a painting, cooked a couple meals, read, watched tv, worked, and gardened….all by 6 PM.
I’m also trying to non-judgmentally assess how I feel. Interestingly, the facebook memories function has showed me that I feel salty every year towards the end of May. What do the past 10 years of late-May have in common? The only thing that I can think of is that I am typically on a running break. But, I’ll be honest: the last thing in the world I want to admit is that not running affects my mental state. After all, I pretty much pride myself on being a Type-B person, not prone to obsessively needing or wanting to exercise.
I’m frustrated with myself that I have been feeling so negative, especially about very stupid things.
However, I’m trying to give myself grace and accept the way that I feel. I guess it’s important to remember that there’s also a chemical component to it that I can’t control. My brain, biochemically, is simply going to be different after a 3-week, 300 mile stretch than a three week, 34 mile stretch. That’s just part of the amazing manner in which our bodies are dynamic machines.
Something that I’ve had more time to meditate on: the power of words, both external and internal. I have always known that words are important. Ever since I was chastised for saying I have “bad” (meaning inflexible) hips during yoga a couple years ago, I have made a conscious effort not to use negative words when describing myself.
But, I realize that my brain has found a workaround: to project how I feel about myself onto others, as if someone else is saying something negative about me, when I think it’s just how I feel about me. AKA, I think running keeps my generalized anxiety under control, and taking a break lets it all creep up. This is something I never in a million years would want to admit (not the anxiety part, I don’t care who knows that I’m an anxious person) but the fact that running – and the subsequent exhaustion – might be a crutch for it.
You know what else happens when I take a break? Tons of FOMO [fear of missing out]. But, FOMO for things I don’t even (normally) care about or want to do. Suddenly I’m jealous that so-and-so liked a friend’s Instagram post but never likes any of my Instagram posts. Aren’t we friends, too? Was there a party I wasn’t invited to and they suddenly become much better friends and have a secret Instagram connection that I don’t know about. They probably DM each other to talk shit about how many times I post about my dogs and talk about food sensitivities.
So, why am I sharing this? One of the coolest things about blogging way too much information about my life is that – as it turns out – I’m not a unique and special snowflake, after all. Lots of people experience the same neuroses as me, and one of the most humbling experiences has been when people contact me to say thanks for making them feel normal. So, folks, if you’re struggling with weird feelings of jealousy and FOMO and a general funk after some time off from running….you’re not alone!