Go. Go. Go.
Updated: May 19, 2021
Why is showing up to take care of ourselves so hard?
Personally, I am often overwhelmed by the inundation of advertisements for the extremes--Push your limits with intense exercise so you can crush it! Try this new drug for when your body is basically falling apart! Eat zero things! Do ALL the things! We have been trained to believe that our value lies in what we produce over who we are. If there's nothing to show or we stop to rest at any point, we are told we have failed.
No wonder we struggle to start. No wonder we break down.
No wonder we hide. No wonder we lash out.
No wonder we quit.
I love running, but it took me a long time to call myself a runner with any sort of confidence, because it doesn't seem to be enough to just run. We're supposed to qualify how fast or slow we are, quantify our mileage, and taught to compare ourselves to everyone else out on the trail. If you don't tick all the right boxes, you aren't a real runner. I can still struggle with that piece of my identity when I have to take a stretch of time off. Over the last six months, I have taken more extended hiatuses than ever before.
The fatigue had been setting in for awhile and I tried my best to ignore it...chalking it up to lack of sleep, hormones, nutritional deficiencies, a pandemic...In fact, I worked harder. I kept trying to fix it. Some of the things I did actually helped (Liquid B12 and iron, FTW!), but mostly it didn't matter what I changed; the tiredness lingered. My workouts had become a chore I dreaded, I lost the energy to have fun with my family, and I was worn out just surviving day-to-day. I hit a major wall.
After months of trying everything else, I decided to take a week to sleep a little more and focus on stretching and yoga. It may sound relaxing, but in reality, it was super stressful! The break felt more like a breakup and my nervous system buzzed with endorphin withdrawal. I felt like such a failure.
As the seven days finished, I did feel a little bit better, so I resumed my previous activity and pace. Lifting didn't feel like a drag and interval runs brought on the glow that I had been missing. That worked well--for awhile. Inevitably, though, the fatigue caught up with me and the program I was doing for strength training got to be way too much. Leg day resulted in stiff calves, tight hamstrings, and extremely sore quads for weeks at a time. Even my easiest runs felt like torture.
Still, I kept pushing.
Sometime in February of this year, I started to notice nerve pain in my heel when I flexed my foot and especially when actively stretching. Simple yoga poses became difficult and I couldn't put my heel on the ground without wincing. That's when I finally caved. I admitted my body was telling me that I needed to stop. I shifted gears, focusing on intentional rest and turning inward with my yoga practice. I half-heartedly kept reminding myself that I wasn't quitting and that this was all in the name of recovery.
I was disappointed in myself. I was sad. I was hurting.
Very slowly, I noticed I began looking forward to my time on the mat. Getting up early became a lot easier. My energy was coming back and I regained some of the ease that had drained out of my life. I was starting to heal.
I kept going.
Looking back now, I realize how much that period of intentional rest gave to me: I had more time to read (which I had been missing); I was less stressed and on edge; I started writing every day, which is literally why you are reading this...It turns out that resting didn't mean I wasn't making progress. I had just stopped moving toward where I thought I was headed and started moving toward where I needed to be.
If you hate what you are doing and what is happening in your life but struggle to make the choices that will bring lasting change, it might be because you have started to hate yourself a little bit too.
This week I ran for the first time in two months and it was the best!
I choose to no longer provide air time for the messages of how fast I should be, how far I have to run, or how many calories I'm supposed to burn...
I run for me.
I run because it feels good.
That is enough.
You are enough.
Thank you for joining me. I am so glad you’re here!