Friday, May 17, 2013

Staying Strong

Life has been really stressful lately.  I haven't been getting enough sleep, if I have a "home"-cooked meal it's generally made in the toaster oven at work, and work in general seems to be never-ending.  Ah, the life of a business owner.  The good news is that work is, in fact, going well.  I currently have one big stress hanging over my head, but even that has been offset by a lot of good dogs, good clients, and good weather, so there's not much complaining there.  Still, though, life has not been the easiest.

As you probably already know, I tend to alleviate stress by running.  Sometimes swimming or biking will help too, but they're better as add-ons to the running, and lately I've been running a lot.  I've been running a little longer or a little faster, and it generally feels good, but sometimes all it feels is painful.  Sometimes I lose sight of just how tired I am or just how hot it is, and instead of becoming this wonderful, blissful run where I finish feeling great about myself, it ends up becoming some horrible struggle to simply stay alive.  My face is beet red, my arms are flailing about, my legs want to collapse in on themselves, and it's all I can do to just keep moving forward, hoping I can make it home without having to call Hans to come pick me up.  Yesterday was one of those days.

I went out later than usual with the hopes of going a little farther than usual.  I wanted a nice, slow run that left me feeling good about the distance and decent about the pace.  What I got was really, really tired.  Going out later meant it was hotter than usual, and the fact of the matter was that I was already physically tired.  Less than half a mile into the run I realized how much harder this run was going to be than I'd planned, but I continued on.  Three miles into the run, I decided to cut my run short, changed my loop, and slowed to walk for a few blocks.  In the end, I'd run 6 miles instead of 8, and I held a 12:15 pace instead of 10:30 like I'd hoped.  This pace is probably because I walked the last mile.  I just couldn't seem to propel myself forward anymore.  When I got back to the house, I immediately had some water.  I was SO thirsty, even though I'd finished all the water in my fuel belt (Note: I generally don't need any water for a 6 mile run, so two bottles plus a glass is a lot).  I stretched out a little, had some breakfast, and pretty much collapsed on the floor for a few minutes while I let the dogs give me kisses (they like salty skin).

I should have felt miserable about that run.  Admittedly, I wasn't thrilled about it, but I certainly did not feel miserable.  I was tired and hungry, but not miserable or upset.  The fact of the matter is, I still ran.  Ironically, shortly after that run, I read this article in Runner's World.  It talks about how running helps you find who you really are, because when you're that tired there's nothing left but the true you.  And you know, I can't help but agree.  When I'm that tired, I don't care about how I look or what's stressing me.  I just care about finishing and recuperating.

On top of that, I can feel awful during a run and hate the run, but when I'm done running I generally just want to get back out and run again.  And that's great about running too.  No matter how awful one run is, I know it's just one run.  Throughout the run, I could be fighting negative thoughts.  Thoughts that say how fat I am or how terrible I look when I run, but at the end of the run I can still say I ran.  I can still say that I overcame those negative thoughts and did what I had to do.  And that makes me feel good.  It makes me feel good enough to bike to work the morning after a bad run.  It makes me feel good enough to pack my gym clothes so I can go for a swim.  It makes me feel good enough to plan my next run.  It helps me to stay strong, and that carries me through the stressful days as well.  So, here's to running!

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