Life isn't lived on one, straight road. It's full of twists and turns, ups and downs, and pit stops, detours and course corrections. And many times, as a runner, my running journey reflects the current path of my life. The down times in my life are evidenced by poor running and even poorer racing. The up times show running improvements and PRs. The mind-body connection is strong, and I've definitely experienced that as a runner, especially lately.
You know how sometimes you think you're taking a correct turn, but you in reality you've actually gone so far off the right path that you're not sure you'll ever find it again? That was me. I've been on one gigantic detour in life since January of this year, and to say it's been stressful would be an understatement. It's been stressful, depressing, confusing, frustrating, and miserable. At the beginning of my detour, I truly thought it was the right path. But it took all of about 2 days to realize I'd made a terrible wrong turn, and I immediately set off to course correct. Along the way, I made a very strong attempt to enjoy the scenery and try the local cuisine. In other words, I made every effort to make the best of a bad situation.
But wow, it was rough. And running was enough rougher. I wasn't sleeping, my eating habits were in the toilet and I was just grabbing whatever was available, I was constantly sick, I had continual aches and pains all over my body, frequent headaches and migraines, and it was tough to get out of bed in the morning. Since it took all the energy I could muster just to get through the day, I didn't have much left to put into anything else.
And I think the stress of it all just became too much this past week and my body just shut down. I ended up getting a terrible cold and could barely move from the couch. While I did get to 3 barre classes (and those were tough for me), there was no biking or paddleboarding, and I was only able to get in a short, slow run on Sunday evening. If I was still a kid, it would have been one of those weeks spent curled up on the couch watching The Price is Right and Bob Ross painting "happy little trees" while I drank Gatorade and ate toast. My head was pounding, I was coughing constantly, and I had absolutely no energy. All I could do was pop cold medicine and hope for the best because I'm not a kid anymore and I had things to do (like take care of my own rambunctious kid!). (Truth: there may have been some Bob Ross happening a little bit last week. Thanks, Netflix!)
Last week's workouts
- Monday: Barre class
- Tuesday: Too sick to move
- Wednesday: Too sick to move
- Thursday: Too sick to move
- Friday: Barre class
- Saturday: Off, feeling sick again
- AM: Barre class
- PM: Easy run - 3.11 miles (9:11 pace)
Last week's totals
Running miles: 3.11 miles
Total runs: 1
Paddleboarding/cross training: 0
Total workouts: 4
But finally, after months of off-roading it, last week I finally got back on the highway. The right opportunity came along and now I'm feeling so much better in general. The cold/illness is still lingering, but I'm hoping it will be gone soon, and that my sleep will be better. And maybe this forced week-long break (along with my very low mileage from the week prior) was what my body (and mind) needed to recover.
These past few months haven't been a total waste, though. I tried a lot of things. I did some freelancing and consulting. I worked with a few startups. I put some things in place to grow my blog, and I started creating art again regularly. I'm a little rusty, but it will come back! And I did keep running and working out, even through the stress and exhaustion, so I'm not starting at zero when I need to ramp back up again for fall training. In fact, I've been doing more strength/cross-training work than ever and I can see the results of that. I also learned what works for me and what really, really, really doesn't (in life/work and otherwise). Hindsight, right?
So where does that leave me?
It leaves me with freedom - freedom to work on my hobbies - jewelry design, art, product collaborations, photography, web and graphic design, and this blog - without feeling pressure to make a ton of money from them (but socking all of that money into savings when I do get it); freedom to be comfortable, but to also stretch myself both in my job and with side projects like building my own apps; and freedom to spend time with my family, take vacations, save some money, plan for the future (because I definitely have a plan!), and to sleep well at night (at least as well as one does with a toddler in the house). And it frees up my mind from constant worry and stress, which in turn should help my body run better and more effectively.
It's fitting that my only run this week was also my first run back on my favorite running path after a week of sickness and no running plus the week prior when I was away on vacation. It was like everything was resetting and getting back to normal. And sometimes, normal is where we need to be.
And all of that should hopefully get me in a better frame of mind for running, and I'm really hoping my paces start to improve and my running plateau breaks. I have a month or two before fall training really kicks in, so once I get recovered from this cold, I can just keep plowing on through the humidity until fall.
At least I know I've finally course corrected and I'm headed in the right direction now.