I was pre-writing the recap for my most recent race in my head during the following day’s morning run and noted that I felt pretty decent during the post-race run. I went out again in the evening for 6 miles with my BRFs (Best Running Friends) and looking back, I should’ve rested. The run felt miserable from the first step – my legs were tired, my stomach was very upset, and I struggled through the entire run. I took Tuesday and Wednesday off, which I do not like to do, and woke up again Thursday morning drained of energy. Though I am currently hosting my monthly visitor and thus in the midst of that hormonal shitstorm, I think that 5 races of 26 miles or longer occurring 5 weekends in a row may be a contributing factor.
“Omg that is a lot of running! You must be tired!” or “Don’t you ever take rest days?” are common responses to my race history and schedule. I generally ignore said comments because I find that, compared to the norm, I feel better when I run more miles and race more often. However, a small amount of irritation creeps in from time to time mostly due to the feeling of being judged. I am writing this to address the judgement and also shed some light on why I do what I run so much.
First and foremost, running is an addictive sport and I believe that many a-runner would agree. We become “hooked” on the endorphins that running fills us with, the emotional release that it provides us with, the physical benefits, the opportunities to meet awesome people, the races we are always prepared for, the higher quality of sleep we achieve from being pooped from physical activity, and so many other elements. Sometimes I dislike using the term “addicted” to describe my/our relationship to running, but it becomes pretty apparent when I/we don’t run. I did not fulfill my addiction this week and it felt crummy.
I burn more calories when I am running regularly – in fact, everyone does. When I don’t lace up for a few days, I feel the added weight and it makes me feel uncomfortable. There I said it: I feel fat when I don’t run. Though I no longer use running to control my weight, and in fact haven’t stepped on a scale in over a year, I still like my jeans to fit a certain way. When they fit a bit more snugly, I feel a bit more irritable. I’ll say it again: I feel fat when I don’t run.
I am single with no kids, no serious relationship to manage, a stable job, and the standard financial obligations. I do not have to confer with anyone in regards to my daily schedule and can basically do what I please. This isn’t good or bad, but it allows me to take full advantage of having mornings and (most) evenings free for runs. Why wouldn’t I run a lot? I enjoy it and its benefits and it fulfills me in a way that many other activities do not.
I also have youth on my side. My body is in relatively good condition and I have no current injuries or ailments. I’m not limping around during or after any of my runs, so again, why wouldn’t I run a lot? If I were forcing myself out each day to grunt through the miles, it may be a sign that perhaps I am overdoing it, but I’m not. In twelve years, I will (hopefully) be married and a bit more settled, plus I will have twelve more years of miles on my legs. I want to reflect back on these years and say “I did some fun races and had some great runs!” Though I’m never sure if there will be a tomorrow, I live under the assumption that I have 60+ fun years left, which leaves me plenty of time to settle in and check all of the “adult” check box items.
I am aware that a relatively simple life means a less stressful one, but I still manage daily stressors. Along with referring to running as an “addiction,” I dislike use of the term “coping mechanism,” but it does help me cope with these daily annoyances and pressure. I find that I am better able to handle stressful situations when I have run and that my initial reaction is less emotional. I experience less anxiety and worry on days that I run, and feel it creep back in when I become more sedentary. Sure, one should not need a substance or activity to keep moods in check, but this is the reality of my situation. I think that many runners will admit that running aids in managing their days. Along with reducing stress, running provides me with a confidence boost. I feel that I am able to tackle daily tasks and projects once I have run. It de-clutters my head, enhances my ability to focus and again… endorphins!
My mentality toward why I run has evolved over the last ~7 years, and I feel like I am an overall better person when I run. This applies to my day-to-day self as well as my long term self. The most significant downside to all of this becomes apparent when I am not running regularly – it feels like the layers of stress and irritation pile up more rapidly. Today is Friday and I feel like the week has worn me down much more than a week full of miles and smiles. Rational Gisele says “you rested more than usual, it’s probably good for you.” Grumpasaurus Gisele says “I hate everything.” I recognize that this imbalance is not good, but in writing this, I am trying to set all of my feelings and emotions out in an attempt to reorganize them and purge the bad ones.
The second important aspect of this off week is that nothing in my schedule prevented me from running every day. I woke up on Tuesday and Wednesday with zero desire to fire up my Garmin. I wasn’t overly tired, injured, or sick, I just… didn’t want to. Perhaps I experienced a mini burnout period, or my hormone levels were really out of whack, or my legs begged my brain for some respite. I kept waiting for the moment that I would snap out of it and aside from a 9 mile run on Thursday night, I still feel “meh.” In an attempt to remain positive, I did identify an area lined with silver technical fabric: my legs will be a bit more rested going into this weekend’s Memorial Day racing adventure. The idea of tapering doesn’t appeal to me, usually, but it will be interesting to see how I do on Sunday and Monday after these few days off.
At the end of the day, I will survive this small hiccup and more importantly, allowing myself to become upset and stressed out about something this insignificant is silly. Grumpasaurus Gisele can be fiesty, but Rational Gisele will prevail.