Running: Time for a break

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Something happened while I was running last Saturday. The weather was  abominable for May cold, rainy, sleet and too much wind. I was on my 12th kilometre, listening to Rammstein’s Rammleid when another strong gust of wind almost knocked me down. I got mad, so mad that I was shouting expletives to the air. I hated everything about running, the pain, the long training hours that’s taking me away from my daughter and this disgusting weather.

Normally I love running in the cold, even the freezing rain won’t dissuade me from going out. At 12 kilometres runner’s high would usually set in and with that high I can go on running for hours. But not today.

Last week I read an article about over training. There was a list of symptoms with corresponding points. Your total points would indicate whether you’re over-training or not. I didn’t even have to rate myself. I already know it. I recognized all the symptoms while training for Texel but somehow I chose to ignore them.

The final straw was Saturday’s run. Running wasn’t as pleasurable as before. In fact, I felt horrible. And I’ve never felt like that about running, especially at that point where runner’s high should be making me feel awesome. I was indeed over-trained. And it was time to acknowledge it.

It’s been a little over two years since I’ve become a mother. I thought I would be strong enough to jump right back to training so I signed up for races. Of course I DNS-ed (did not start) and wasted my money.

In reality it took me 14 and 17 months (respectively) post-partum before I could train and actually race again. But even then, I was not in shape. My body was different, my pelvic was weak and my focus was nowhere in sight. And the Kustmarathon was probably not the wisest way to come back. I underestimated its difficulty.

At the time of writing, I’ve have been training for almost a year already, except for that one month break after the Kustmarathon. The past year had also been, perhaps, the most emotionally-draining time of my life – my father in-law’s battle with cancer, his death the day after Christmas and my mother suffering a stroke three weeks after. In addition to all of these, I’m working full time and caring for a two-year old who gets sick regularly.

When my right leg literally stopped me from running one month ago, I should have stopped training right away. But I thought it’ll go away with enough rest and careful build-up of kilometres. I signed up for marathon this month hoping to put a closure to my winter training and my dnf on Texel. But no matter how it breaks my heart, I know that I won’t be at the starting line. Another DNS, my hard-earned euros down the drain again.

At kilometre 23 last Saturday, with only one kilometre to go, that shooting pain in my right leg returned. I limped home. I could hardly climb up the stairs and going down was a nightmare. 

So now I’ll be taking a break, a long one probably. I certainly won’t be running in the next 6 weeks and would focus on healing and strengthening, both physically and emotionally.

Shifting my focus to other things would be challenging. I’m not used to a life without running anymore, however dramatic that sounds. Running is part of my schedule, it’s my ultimate me-time, and couple time for me and my husband. I’m quite sad that I won’t be doing it for a while.

On the other hand, my family wouldn’t need to share my mornings and weekends with running anymore. I have more time, a lot more time in my hands to do other things. Like fix the garden for example, or hang portraits and tear down a wall. I could use my bike again and maybe do more yoga and Pilates sessions. Or blog more about the amazing trips I’ve done in the last two years or do some serious writing.

Keeping mind the words of the inspiring Sophie Power, I’m finding the WHY in my running goals, the need to rekindle my love (and pleasure) for running. And the only way I know how is to abandon it. At least for a while.

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