What I didn't anticipate was how out of running shape I really am. It's so frustrating to feel like I'm pushing pace just to look down at my watch and see I'm running up to 1 min/mile slower than my pace last year. Not to mention the fact that I'm sucking wind and wanting to walk on single digit runs. I'm supposed to be an ultra runner for goodness sakes! Why is it so hard lately?
After a particularly suck-tastic run where I literally wanted to stop after one mile, I had a little sit down with myself to see what the heck is up. Here's the thing:
1) I'm out of running shape. Point blank. End of story. I didn't run much or very consistently for months. I did it to myself. Why did I think I'd immediately be able to pick up where I left off? It took time to get me to this point, it'll take time to get me back to where I was. Time and hard work. There are no shortcuts.
2) I'm working out. A lot. I've been loving all of the new workouts I've been doing lately and I'm especially loving the results (hello arm definition!). Unfortunately, the reality is the body can only do so much. If I'm busting my tail to get back into running shape and working out like a fiend at the same time my body isn't going to be able to rest, recover and show results in the same way as it would if I was focusing on just one or the other. That being said, I refuse to give up my workouts. They've been a tremendous stress relief for me and I absolutely love seeing the changes in my body. I just need to find that sweet spot when scheduling my runs and workouts to allow adequate rest/recovery and readjust my expectations on my progress. No more "RUN ALL THE RUNS" and "DO ALL THE WORKOUTS"! Easier said than done.
3) I'm exhausted. Work has been uber demanding lately and with the higher than normal stress levels I've developed really bad insomnia. I'm talking 3-4 hours of sleep max on the daily. No one can maintain a high level of activity without adequate sleep. It's just not physically possible. So naturally my runs have been more of a sufferfest than they should be. I'm still trying to figure this one out since I've always had insomnia, just not to this extent before.
4) Poor diet and hydration. I admit it, I am horrible at eating clean. I love food. All food. And quite frankly I lack the self-control and discipline that it takes to stick to a regimented clean diet. I've also been really bad at drinking enough water for some reason. I am getting better at eating healthier and hydrating consistently throughout the day but this has certainly impacted my ability to run.
5) Comparison trap. I know I talked about this before here but I still struggle with this. It's hard to see my friends cranking out amazing workouts and runs while I'm struggling with my own. Trying to drown out the "I'm not strong enough" or "I'm not fast enough" or "I'm just not good enough" is a constant battle and it's HARD. I end up grumpy and unmotivated and borderline depressed which typically ends with me sitting on my couch stuffing my face with junk. Not helpful. Tears have even been shed. So dramatic! Lately I've even been logging in more solo runs than usual, even though I'm a consummate social runner, in part because I hate feeling like I'm holding everyone back from getting a good run in. I honestly feel bad. Thankfully my friends won't listen to any of that crap and insist I run with them anyway. Still, I beat myself up way more than I should.
Hell, I even feel that way about workouts that everyone seems to love but I can't seem to get into. I have to fight the "something's wrong with me" mentality. Lord knows I keep trying to go to those classes/workouts in the hopes that I'll one day miraculously "love it" too. Maybe I just have to come to terms with the fact that those workouts may not be for me and focus on the classes/workouts that I really do love and make me feel good. And along those lines, I need to remind myself that I don't need to do 2-3 workouts and runs a day just because it feels like everyone else is. As long as I'm cross training and running and doing it in a healthy way, that's all that matters right?!
Bottom line: STOP WITH THE COMPARISON TRAP ALREADY! Yes I'm yelling at myself. I need to focus on doing me, regardless of what that means. And if people judge me because of that then that's their problem not mine.
Ultimately, I just need to get it into my brain that my running (and workout) level is different from where it was. It doesn't mean that I'm no longer a "runner", it just means that I have some work to do to be where I want to be. In the meantime, I just need to be kinder to myself and allow myself some grace as I work towards where I want to be. I'll get there.
And since you've been awesome enough to read through all of that, here are some really pretty pictures of my super early morning run the other day: