My first run after a three week break was on Monday, on the treadmill – it felt really good. There is definitely an underlying “addiction to running” for most runners, whether they choose to admit it or not. I, however, will fully admit to being addicted to the endorphin-producing activity and Monday’s run felt like taking a hit after a long period of deprivation. Although I was still exercising and sweating daily during the three weeks, it didn’t produce that high that running seems to produce. It felt awkward and clumsy, but refreshing and good. I completed 4 treadmill miles on Monday, 4 on Tuesday and then five on the roads yesterday evening. Yesterday’s miles felt really weird and my calves are sore today. My breathing evened out after the first 2 miles and I was chatting the entire time, but my body wasn’t moving as smoothly as I would’ve liked and my running muscles were definitely weaker. Just like I exercise the rest of my body on a daily basis, I must exercise patience with this process. I know all too well the result of jumping back into training. With that being said, I’m not 100% sure as to whether I am completely healed.
A small part of me isn’t sure about re-entering the world of running that I was immersed in before. Don’t get me wrong, there is a wonderful community of runners and endurance athletes here. In fact, a majority of my social group is comprised of runners and I love the positivity which emanates from the group (lots of serotonin, no doubt). I find myself questioning that relationship because I noticed that communication drops off significantly when removed from that “world.” When I am healthy and running a lot, we are connected through group runs and races; I feel like I am connected to the group. When I am out, what do we have to talk about or do together? It’s no secret that when a runner is benched, running and racing become sore subjects. It becomes apparent who the friends are and who the running-only friends are. It isn’t to fault anyone because relationships are often built on common interests and activities, but realizing this false sense of care made me sad.
Along with my social life, my extracurricular activities almost completely involve(d) running. Run, work, run again, eat, read, sleep. Though I was interested in learning this and taking that class, I didn’t have the energy or time. Now that I have more free time, I am studying programming/coding and reading a ton. It has caused me to realize the lack of balance that I had before and how important that is to my mental well being. Sure, I became a better runner and saw some significant race result changes from higher mileage, but for what reason other than to boast? It was definitely exciting, especially after surprising myself at the 2014 LA Marathon with a 3:07, but it slowly wore me out and stopped being exciting. I began to feel unfulfilled mentally and the break has allowed me to flesh out that realization, face it, and take action. I was able to start some online programming lessons and register for a class at a local community class. I am a nerd-turned-runner who, without the running component of my life, is remembering how much I love to learn and build different skill sets.
In summation, it is the lack of running which has caused me to realize a) what I lack, b) what I love, c) what really matters.
I’d eventually like to flesh all of this out more, but will leave it as is.