So I’ve picked up running again, and in the past nine months or so I’ve been able to pick it up to about three days each week. Sometimes four. Sometimes less. It’s a challenge as a truck driver, because I obviously can’t just run anywhere, or anytime I want. So I joined the “truckin runners” Facebook page, which has been an amazingly supportive group, and I’ve managed to find a few of my own places over the road where I can run and feel safe. So now I go as often as I can – it always depends on our schedule. I fit it in where I can.
Then I got my eyes set firmly on the Frozen Otter race, which I’ve participated in six times in the past, and crazily decided to go back one more time. I do plan to write more about this soon, as I’m now trying to train for an insane amount of miles (64) in an insane winter (!) race, as an over-the-road truck driver. I’ve got lots to talk about – there’s trying different gear, overnight training runs, trying to find the right nutrition… Blah, blah, blah… Anyway, I can only squeeze in big training days about once each month, which is still logistically super-hard, so in between I’m trying to keep up my regular running to hopefully stay in good shape for this Frozen Otter insanity. And simply because I’ve been really… REALLY enjoying running.
Well, until my last three runs.
Today was my third bad run in a row. I can get over a bad run… It happens. It HAS happened. But never three in a row! The whole time I was running this morning, I was thinking, “Okay, something’s up. What is it?” I’m trying to listen to my body, but it speaks a foreign language, I swear. I have no idea what it’s saying. So as I ran, I started to list all the things that could be wrong. I made sure my mindset wasn’t to make it a list of excuses, but reasons. Because if I find the reason, I can work on something and fix it. I seriously want to fix this – whatever it is.
Here was my list and thoughts why running can suck:
Not enough food. My truck diet it usually pretty basic, consisting of easy-to-eat-while-driving foods. Boiled eggs, a variety of raw nuts, raw veggies, Epic meat bars, avocados… things like that. And it’s pretty low calorie, because honestly, I’m sitting almost all day long. Driving. So during the week it usually works great. But on our days off when I want to put out 6 miles, or maybe 10, and after I’ve been eating my sedentary-trucker diet for a week, do I just not have enough stored-up fuel? Is that how this works? I have no idea. I don’t know what I’m doing at all when it comes to nutrition.
Not enough carbs. The way I eat in the truck is also naturally low carb. I add in fruit, and get some carbs out of some of the other foods I eat, but I try to stay away from grains and other stuff that might make me feel heavy or bloated. It’s not a comfy thing to drive for hours with a balloon in your tummy. So again, I hit that long run, and maybe there’s some shortage of energy there? Again, no clue.
I have my period. Sorry, boys. But girls, really. You know what I mean, right? It sometimes feels like your body is just sucking the energy out of you so you can annoyingly bleed for five days. What’s the deal with that? The only catch with this theory is that it’s inconsistent. Sometimes it makes me feel tired, and strangely sometimes I feel a burst of energy from it, but it’s usually the former. Is that all that’s going on? I can’t figure this one out, either. See? My body speaks to me… but in a different language.
It’s hot and muggy out. The first two bad runs were in some pretty intense heat and humidity, so this morning I ran from 5:30-6:30am. It was still warm, but a vast improvement over the last two times. So maybe it’s not the heat? Guess what? I don’t know…
I’m dehydrated. I think I’m drinking enough water, but I’ve also been sweating like a faucet, so… Could it be that simple? I’ve been bringing a handheld water bottle with me on even my shortest runs, and I drink a ton while I’m driving. But maybe the timing is off. Who knows!
My hemoglobin is low. This possibility is admittedly over-dramatic, but with my health history, it’s not something I don’t think about. I’m not cured from Aplastic Anemia, I’m in remission. So, relapse is a word in my vocabulary, just not one I like to use. Ever. Because I’m determined to be done with that whole story. I’m thinking I’m due for a complete blood count, if only to settle a paranoid mind.
I’m simply anemic. Maybe I should eat a bunch of steak. I kind of hope this is the problem. I should really just eat steak and steamed broccoli and spinach for a week. Yeah, this is surely it. :)
Spoiled after running trails. Since I’m training for the Frozen Otter, which is on a hiking trail through the woods, I try to run trails when I can. This is super-awesome. Because it’s in the woods. The ground is soft. It’s shady. You don’t almost get hit by cars. There’s squirrels and bunnies. It’s pretty and distracting. For so many reasons, trails rock. So when I have to jump on a road or paved trail, do I now struggle knowing there’s a preferred surface and surrounding that I’ve been on? Have I spoiled myself? Unfortunately, it’s unrealistic in my situation to only run trails… Or I totally would. I should move to a mountain.
I didn’t sleep as well as I thought. This one’s a stretch. I’ve had great runs on little sleep, and the exercise has actually rejuvenated me at times. I’ve also had great runs on lots of sleep, so… yeah, again. I have no idea. Hey… body… if you could please be consistent… that would be great, okay? Thanks.
I’m burned out. I can’t be if I’m still excited to run, right? I feel like this would come into play if I’m dreading every run I plan to go on. I’ve actually been there before, and a week off from running has always cured it. Okay, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to try this. But… I still want to run. Oy. The confliction! Maybe next week. Or the next.
My mental game is way off. I don’t want it to be this. I have always thrived on a strong mental game. On my last long training run, I excelled in this. But it’s got to be partly my mentality, because I nearly cried when I stopped to walk for a little bit this morning because I felt as though I gave up on myself. I guess there’s some work to be done there, for sure, and that work will probably never be done, but I can’t see that being the main issue. I hope not, or I’ve got a really rough winter ahead of me! I feel like long distance endurance stuff eventually becomes mostly a mental challenge. So yup. I gotta rock the mental game. Plain and simple.
So, what’s up, doc? Once I started that run this morning (the one I was stoked to go on – the one that was going to give me a great excuse to eat that delicious belgian waffle), it felt like my head was pushing forward all excited to go-go-go, and my legs were dragging behind me, fussing profusely. My body just felt low on energy, solid and heavy. Even my arms ached, which was strange. I stopped three times to walk and I felt a little light-headed each time. In fact, it almost felt more difficult to slow down because I had to adjust the rhythm of my breathing, which then made it feel like I was going to hyperventilate. I had to concentrate pretty hard to keep it under control. I’ve never had to concentrate this hard on so many things just to get through a run! It wasn’t good. It wasn’t as fun as I knew it could be and it made me sad.
When I finally finished my six miles, I felt good that I finished it, and happy for the exercise, but man… I was wiped. And worried. And angry. And disappointed in myself. And I wanted to know what’s going on so I can do something about it. Like now. But where to start? I’m really bad at the whole “ruling things out” strategy, but I guess I’m going to have to figure it out.
Or maybe I go for one more run and hope I miraculously snap out of this. I’ll start there. Fingers crossed.
Runner friends – have you ever hit a slump? Tell me about it, please! What did you do? Is there a super-obvious red flag here, and you’re all like, “Hey, dummy! Do this!” I give you permission to call me dummy. Let me know! Because seriously, I’m just running. I have no idea what I’m doing otherwise.
Or if you could teach my body to speak my language. That would also do the trick. :)
Tonight I love running. Even when it sucks.