Stressed Out Runner Venting Session

Stressed Out Runner

I've never had trouble sleeping, I've never been physically affected by stress, and I've never experienced much anxiety. 

Those three facts are pretty shocking considering the fact that I'm a Type-A perfectionist who doesn't know how to sit still and relax for any real length of time. 

Unfortunately, it seems that my "GO GO GO" attitude towards life is finally starting to catch up to me. Stress, anxiety and trouble sleeping have all reared their ugly heads in the past month or so and I'm not going to sugarcoat it - I'm struggling over here. 

My instinct is to ignore it, keep loading my calendar with activities, and not sit still long enough to deal with what's really bothering me (because I'm sure there's something!) But I know that I can't keep doing that and expect things to improve. 

I've purchased a big bottle of melatonin and it's helped me fall asleep at night, but I'm still waking up frequently throughout the night. I got a massage last week for all of the muscle aches and pains and giant knots in my back and shoulders - but I still feel an annoying pain in my back every time I breathe in. I'm trying to remind myself to breathe deeply throughout the day - but still find myself either not breathing or not breathing fully. Sound crazy right? Forgetting to breathe?  

I've been going NON STOP since December - traveling for work 52 days in just over 3 months. 13 flights. 13!!

I spent all that time SO looking forward to being back in the city with my friends, in my own apartment, with my bike and my kitchen and my routine. 

But then I got home (for a whopping 16 days in a row) and was suddenly reminded that "real life" isn't a cake walk either. Commuting on the subway, millions of options of what workouts I want to do instead of "Hotel Gym" on repeat, laundry, food shopping, cooking, chores, errands, jury duty, and trying to make the time to see all the people I've missed for the past 3 months. Suddenly I was feeling overwhelmed by the very thing I had been looking forward to - being home and surrounded by plans and things I wanted to do. 

Please tell me I'm not the only one who is in a constant battle between wanting to do all the things, and wanting to not do a damn thing?? 

In a previous post, I touched on the fact that I haven't been running much. Tuesday night I went out for a run which was, quite frankly, the worst run I can EVER remember. Ever.

My shins were the tightest and most painful that they've ever been. I finished the run and immediately broke down. 

There comes a point in your life when ugly-crying on the sidewalk of a New York City street doesn't make you feel self-conscious at all. And apparently, I've reached that point. 

I was crying because, "IT'S NOT FAIR. I JUST WANT TO RUN." It sounds so childish and ridiculous and DUMB but it has been over a year since I was running 30+ miles a week and training for a marathon and I miss it more and more every day. 

For the past year I've taken it easy on the running, tried to focus on other types of fitness, tried to gain leg and core strength, and told myself that the New York City Marathon in 2018 was all I wanted to do. I didn't need a calendar jam-packed with races and half marathons - as long as I could train for and cross one more marathon finish line I would be happy. 

But yesterday's run was a painful - literally - reminder that my body is so far away from being able to train for a marathon. 

That got me thinking - what is it that I miss so much about running?

It's not that I don't like the spin classes, the weight training, the boxing classes, etc. that I have been filling my schedule with. Because they're fun and I enjoy them! But there's just something about running that I can't put my finger on that is straight up therapy for me. Nothing else I've found clears my head the way a good run can. 

For me, nothing beats long conversations with running friends. For me, nothing beats lacing up on a Saturday morning and enjoying an hour in Central Park before the rest of the world wakes up. For me, nothing beats the moment when everything clicks and you feel like you're flying. For me, nothing beats the tired, but strong feeling in your legs when you reach the top of a hill. For me, nothing beats crossing a finish line after months of training and comittment. 

Everyone loves to talk about how bad running is for your body, but those people don't understand how incredible the sport and the community is for a runner's mind and soul. 

I have no doubt that my stress and anxiety are closely linked to my inability to run as much as I'd like to. 

I'm frustrated with doctors who prescribe me physical therapy instead of trying to figure out what's wrong and I'm frustrated with physical therapists who give me exercises that I do on my own at the gym already. 

I'm frustrated with "Have you tried new sneakers?" "Have you tried foam rolling?" "Have you tried a massage?" "Have you tried yoga?" "Have you tried compression?" Yes, yes yes and yes. 

The one thing that keeps getting mentioned that I haven't yet tried is acupuncture, and although I'm 100% terrified of needles and pass out every year when I get my flu shot, I think I'm at the point where it might be worth a shot. 

In the meantime, I've been going to yoga more frequently, and I've been pleasantly surprised to find myself really enjoying some of the studios I've tried. Look for a post on that coming soon - because I'm the anti-yogi and on a random Monday night recently I found myself thinking, "I need some hot yoga." What? 

I guess this post really didn't go anywhere, but writing always helps me process my thoughts so thanks for reading along on my little self-therapy session. I like to think I'm not the only sidelined, stressed-out runner who might need a bit of a pity party. 

If anyone has any advice, thoughts, ideas, I'm all ears.