I started this post to write a race recap, but quickly it evolved into something else. To be real and totally transparent I lost my groove after the Cellcom Marathon. For 3 years I had my head down and was putting in the work to achieve my goal of 40 marathons by my 40th birthday. It was like I had blinders on and had forgotten what laid back, enjoyable running was all about. I burnt myself out both physically and mentally. I spent a good part of the summer of 2018 with my family and doing very little running. That part was weird. I was not used to it. Jumping back on the bandwagon has been tough. It is difficult to describe it without sounding like a complete jerk. I had run distances over the past 3 years that I did not think were possible so now to motivate myself to get out the door and run a few miles seemed like a waste of time. Hear me out, I know that it is not…you cannot skip the base work and go right into ultra distances, but I mentally could not gear down. Starting over was a hurdle I could not clear. I was an “ultra” runner who was quickly losing her fitness but did not want to admit it. 10 miles was no longer a short run and now created a huge amount of self doubt. I know better than to sit in silence and try to handle these things alone. When we don’t reach out for help the demons in our heads gain power and get super loud. I was embarrassed though to ask for help, to admit I was not the badass that I once was. I did not want to let people down and admit I was struggling to build myself back up to the runner I once was. The spiral that continued was pathetic and heartbreaking to be part of, but needed. I cared what others thought of me and was letting that fear of their opinions control me. I was doing this to MYSELF and needed to stew in this until I came to that conclusion. A lion is not concerned with the opinion of the sheep…why??? Because he is a freaking lion. Deep down I know that not a single person gives a crap how far I can at this very moment run. No one give a damn what weight I am at or how my thighs jiggle in my shorts. Knowing something in your core and moving past those fears is hard. Let’s say that again…moving past your fears is HARD. I am not past them…nope, not even close. I would compare where I am at in as to being on the highway and you are driving along side a car in the fast lane that should not be there, but you want to pass them and they refuse to keep a constant speed so you can figure out your next move. Some days that car next to me is picking up speed and edging in front of me and some days I am the one picking up speed, but we are always next to each other. My exit ramp is coming up, don’t you worry. I am getting a handle of the insecurities that have popped up. I have felt the shift in power. That is the great thing about slowing down and spending time in the uncomfortableness that life throws at us…you learn something every single time and grow from it. I used to barrel through the uneasy, hard feelings which only made things worse. You cannot run from your struggles, eventually they will pull you down. So what have I learned over the years…
- Stop and figure out what is grabbing hold of you. In my case I felt like a fraud. I called myself and ultra runner, but after a break in my training I was not at the same fitness level to be able to run ultra distances. The reality is a I am an ultra runner. I have done the work and completed several races. Could I do that now, no! Could I train for and complete another in the future, yes. Do I want to make the commitment and sacrifice the time to do so right now, I don’t know. Ultra running is hard work and takes a lot of time away from doing other things. I am not sure if I am in that place right now where I want to give up “other” things. Admitting that to myself was difficult. I know that I cannot have it both ways or I will burn out like I did before. In the end it was not that I could not complete an ultra distance, it is that I am unsure if I want to commit to working towards one…that is what was grabbing hold of me. I don’t have an answer at this time, but I do know that realizing what has truly been bothering me has lifted a huge weight off my shoulders.
- Stop worrying what others will think. I have been stuck on the hamster wheel for way to long of worrying about the opinions that people have of me. Spoiler alert most times what I am fixated on has not even registered with them. People are focused on their own shit. Last year I NEVER wore shorts…I was concerned people would think I was gross. I have cellulite and they jiggle. No one cares and if they do, so what. Is that fact that my legs not smooth going to stop the world from turning – nope. Let’s not get it twisted though. I have a ton of anxiety when I put them on, but I have promised myself to just shut the F up and do it. I wait until the last possible moment to get dressed and then head out the door so that I cannot change. I give myself zero options. I can honestly say that each time I wear shorts it gets easier. Will I feel like rock star eventually, probably not but at least I am no longer sitting on the sidelines. In addition to my hang up with shorts I also stopped registering for races. I was so worried others would notice I was slow like a turtle and not the distance badass that I used to be. Not a single person said a thing at Titletown when I was walking a lap. The only person caring out my speed or distance was me. Moral of the story…wear the shorts, sign up for the race, rip the band-aid off and do the thing that is holding you back. Acknowledge the anxiety and stress that it will create (ignoring it will make it worse) and slowly create a new routine. Baby steps are still moving in the right direction and when you are moving forward by definition you are no longer stuck.
- Stop trying to go it alone. My support system, be it small, is mighty and I have stopped trying to do things independently. In my heart of hearts I know that I am my own worst critic and cannot see the forest for the trees at time. Reaching out to others got the ball rolling for me to pull up my boot straps and take a step forward to get unstuck. Right after the marathon I did not recognize that I was struggling. I truly thought I was “fine” but thankfully Nora, my coach, saw it. (Folks, she is freaking amazing. Go check her out at Team Bird Training if you are considering hiring a coach. You will not be sorry-promise.)
- Stop focusing on the negatives. I have changed my way of thinking to include the bright side of every situation…sometimes you have to dig real deep to find something positive in the situation, but its there. This mindset shift lightened my whole attitude. It sounds cheesy to say, but my eyes were opened to things in a way that they have never been before once I dropped my bitterness. Truth be told I was a downer and that built up my anxiousness to a level that did not allow me to move. I was frozen in place and most of the “what ifs” were negative in nature. Turning that around did not happen over night. I started small with one thing, person, ect I was grateful for in the morning. That created a foundation for the rest of my day. When the funk creeps back I see it now. Its ok to have bad days too. That used to unravel me. I try to give myself a time frame for negativity. Think of it like an adult time out. Ok – 5 minutes to be Debbie Downer and then we move on. Music is also life raft for me when I cannot pull myself back out of a funk. Try being negative after listening to Lizzo at volume 10!
- Stop ignoring your self care. I totally get that this is the hot new buzz phrase in the social media world, but rightfully so. We don’t take good enough care of ourselves. I often times feel guilty for putting myself first, especially when I am struggling. But like they tell you on an airplane you need to put the mask on yourself so that you CAN help others around you. Easy to say, hard to do. I had viewed my training as a luxury until I stopped…it was actually the glue keeping me together. The consistency that my running schedule carved out time for me that I didn’t realize I needed. It was down low self care and when I stopped training the bottom feel out for me. This realization was mind blowing. I protect my time to run very carefully now, knowing it is not an indulgence but a necessity for my physical and mental well being. I am a better human when I take care of myself and am of far greater use to the people around me.
Am I 100% myself, no. I don’t feel like I am in quick sand anymore, which is a welcomed relief. As for what is next…I am not really sure. I love that the brain fog is starting to clear and I feeling the pull towards new adventures.
#BeHappy #BeKind #BeActive