Okay guys, I have a less-than-cheery post for you today, unfortunately.
Basically, what happened was I came home from Walt Disney World on a complete runner’s high. I was on top of the world. I could not have been happier with how the race(s) went and the entire 48.6-mile experience.
I pretty much live in my marathon hoodie and don one of my Walt Disney World Marathon-themed Sweaty Bands practically every day. I haven’t taken off my Dopey necklace, or the marathon necklace my sister made me for Christmas from Gone for a Run, since I came home.
I’m still reveling in the accomplishment, and to say that I’m experiencing a bit of post-marathon depression would be an understatement — you focus on this one goal for so many months, and once it’s over and you’ve crossed that finish line and you hang your medal up, you can’t help but feel a little lost.
At the same time, though, I’ve been struggling with an even bigger problem.
Thing is, I don’t want to run. Like, at all.
Right now…I would even dare say that I hate running.
I know what you’re thinking.
“Why not just give yourself a break?”
“You ran practically 50 miles in one weekend, you should have taken some time off.”
“You have to let your body recover.”
I know all of that, believe me…yet, the problem is that I was stupid enough to agree to run the Rock N’ Roll USA Marathon in Washington, DC with Todd — it’ll be his first — in March.
Yeah, March. Meaning I have all of about 6 weeks before I have to face yet another 26.2. Mind you, I’m going into this with no major time goals — I’d like to beat my Disney time of, oh, 5:50, but I figure that shouldn’t be too difficult when I’m not constantly stopping for pictures with giant mice along the way.
As far as I’m concerned, this is Todd’s race, and it’s something I wanted to do for him and with him, the way he was so supportive of me during my endless months of Dopey training. I know it will be a fun time, no matter what, and I’m really excited to go on another race-cation together…especially since we’ve both definitely enjoyed our previous Rock N’ Roll experiences.
Still, I know now that it probably wasn’t the best idea. I signed up for this race months and months ago, before I could have had any real idea of what Dopey would do to my body. I was powering through my own marathon training and feeling strong and confident and figured, “eh, what’s one marathon when I’ll have already tackled the Dopey Challenge?”
I came back from Disney ecstatic, but exhausted. I swear, it took me at least two weeks just to get back on a normal sleeping pattern…I couldn’t get enough. Eventually, I recovered, but when it comes to my training runs every step since January 12th has been a struggle.
Sure, I was sore right after the marathon and rested completely for a few days, but after that, it was right back to business. Not a moment to waste. I had another marathon to train for, and there was no way I was going to let myself sit around. My genius idea was to give myself a few days to recover, and then jump right into wherever Todd was in his marathon training plan.
Last weekend, I ran 18 miles. I didn’t love it, but having company definitely helps. And the weather was beautiful — it was pushing 40 degrees, which compared to the sub-zero wind chills we’ve been dealing with, practically felt like summertime.
The weekend before that, it was 13 miles. In the snow and ice and slush and COLD, and I HATED every minute of it. Ask Todd if you don’t believe me. All I did was whine and complain and moan and ask him how many more miles we had left (my stupid Garmin was acting up so I had to rely on his, unfortunately enough for him).
The weekend before that, I forced myself through 10 miserable miles on sore, heavy legs.
And now I have a 19-miler looming over me for this weekend. Personally, I’d rather gouge my eyes out.
But, either way, we have to hurry up and get it done on Saturday, because guess what’s in the forecast? MORE FREAKIN’ SNOW.
During the week, I’ve been trying to do as much as I can. You know, when New Jersey isn’t being slammed by yet another blizzard or bout of bone-chilling cold. The weather doesn’t usually bother me much — I have more than enough cold-weather running gear to layer on, and would gladly take 19-degree cold over 90-degree heat — but day after day of having to face the brutal chill and soak my sneakers in wet snow or almost bust my ass on a patch of ice or, worst of all, take my run indoors and battle the dreadmill is definitely taking its toll.
The first week home, I took several rest days and then tried to squeeze in a bunch of 5-milers. The week after, I was lucky to get in one or two 4-mile runs. This week, I’ve struggled through two 3-mile runs and absolutely hated every minute of it.
I dread putting on my sneakers. It feels like a chore. I’ve had more than one full-blown conversation with myself this week about how I need to stop being lazy and quit being a baby and just go out and get it over with.
When I have somewhere to go or something else to do afterwards, I wait until the last possible second to force myself out the door, knowing that if I wait long enough then I “won’t have time” to finish and will have a perfectly legitimate excuse to cut the run short.
I keep making myself run, even if it’s incredibly slow or short, with the justification that “3 miles is better than 0 miles.” Whenever I have the opportunity to make it to my Thai Kickboxing or Taekwondo class, I jump for joy because I consider that my workout for the day and know I can skip my run (whereas I used to have no qualms about doing both in one day).
I used to come home and slip out of my running sneakers and experience that delightful runner’s high for the rest of the day…and now I just feel defeated and frustrated.
Over the past year or two, running has become my source of stress-relief. It has become the thing I rely on to keep me on an even keel.
Sadly enough, I must also admit that I fear that I’ve replaced my former addiction to food with my new addiction to running, and the fact that it’s now causing me such distress is absolutely affecting other areas of my life. I feel unsettled and insecure and find myself overwhelmed at the smallest of things. I’m obsessing over the marathon and terrified that I’ll find myself under-trained and not be able to finish.
Physically, I feel okay, and I’m thrilled with the way I recovered from my first marathon; it’s more the feelings of dread that keep stirring up every time I have to run that are really getting to me.
So, my question to all of you runners who are more experienced (and probably a whole lot smarter) than I am…how do I deal with this? I’m assuming it’s the dreaded “burnout” that I’ve read so much about (but never thought could actually happen to me) and I need a break, but, unfortunately, I can’t just sit back and put my feet up and hope to be strong enough to cross the finish line in March.
I’m not a quitter and I won’t let myself back down from this challenge, so do I just suck it up until then? Force myself to run? Scale back the number of days I run? Shorten my mid-week runs? Swap some of my runs for a different activity? Take more rest days?
I desperately want to love running again, and I’m willing to try anything!
Have you ever dealt with burnout? How did you handle it?