Friday, July 19, 2013

Is stress slowing me down?

I had a dream last week that Joey McIntyre gave me a racing bib to a sold out marathon.  (For all you non-runners out there, a racing bib is the thing with the number on it that's pinned to your shirt.)  I found myself standing at the race start completely unprepared and wondering if I would be able to finish because apparently my longest run had only been four miles.  I then looked down and realized that I was wearing my bright pink house slippers and after briefly considering whether or not I would be able to make it to the finish line in the slippers, I left the other runners in search of a running store.  I found one but no one was in the store so I began searching the shoes for a pair in my size.  And then I woke up.  Or a kid woke me up.

As I was telling Rich about my dream, he said, "OMG, I can't believe you're telling me this," and I was all like, "OMG, it really isn't that bad."  I could have been yelling, "OMG, I'm running a marathon with Joey McIntyre!"  But that's not the point.  The point is that this dream highlights my current struggles with running.  I've been running for 20 years now and I've always taken time off here and there (for example, during tax season) and I've never had this much difficulty getting back into the swing of it.  This time around, I've been plagued by ridiculous "injuries" (I haven't even told you about my tight calf last week that thankfully I was able to work through and is now gone) and it's taking me forever to build my speed up.

So last week, as I was struggling to maintain a pace I wanted to, I began to think about what's different in my life.  It wasn't easy to start up running last year but once I did, I could see progress.  What's different now?

  • Well, I'm a year older.  That shouldn't make that much of a difference.
  • My eating habits haven't changed.  
  • I'm getting more sleep.
When I transitioned to a four day, reduced schedule work week fifteen months ago, life was a bit less stressful.  It was great having that day to just be at home or use for appointments.  A lot has changed at work over the past year and now that four day work week is causing a ton of stress.  I'm not convinced that going back to a full time schedule would be less stressful either.  I obviously can't go into a lot of detail here so let's just leave it with me trying to mentally manage my stress load.  For now.

Interestingly enough, Runner's World tweeted a link last week to an article discussing how stress could affect your running.

Sunday night, for the first time in over a year, I ran three miles.  It was 80 degrees out with 90% humidity so my time (34:49) wasn't great but you know what?  It doesn't have to be.  I ran that same three mile loop again Wednesday night.  Baby steps.  

(Rich and I are tentatively scheduled to run a 5K at the end of the month.)         


Anonymous said...

I have anxiety and my stress level is usually about a 12 (on a scale of 1-10). I think when I get plagued with this (almost depression -like) anxiety it really affects my running bexause it takes away my desire to compete or really try hard. You need that "umph" to run and when I lack it then I find it hard to push myself. I totally relate to your situation.

Sarah said...

I've been fairly motivated to run but I know that feeling that you're talking about. Sometimes there's so much to do, it's hard to do anything. They say when you are stressed, your muscles are tighter and you are more prone to injury, etc.

Christi said...

Yay for running 3 miles - especially in this weather we're having. I need to stop beating myself up for being a slow runner and just work on increasing my distance. I saw a guy with a shirt that said an 11 minute mile is just as far as a 6 minute mile.