Discouraged

Today is not a great morning so far. And it’s Wednesday so I can’t even blame it on the day itself. I like Wednesdays. Wednesdays are my writing day at work; we’re almost to the weekend but there’s still enough of the week left to get things done; and my husband is home Wednesday evenings making the routine less chaotic.

Got up this morning at 6:15 and crept like a ninja downstairs where I had made sure to have everything ready and waiting for me (took extra time to do this last night). I barely had my pjs off when I heard our daughter banging at her door. Arg! I hadn’t made any noise—what the heck? Why last week could I get up and leave without any disruption but this week it seems to be impossible?

Feeling mucho guilty, I leave the house knowing Allan is more than capable of handling the child. The guilt doesn’t come so much thinking that it should be *me* taking care of K, but knowing I had probably woken her up somehow. I was hoping a run would take my thoughts away and transport me to a peaceful NeverNever Land for a few minutes anyway.

Wrong.

It was hard today. And I know I usually say running is hard, but today was different. Every step hurt. My knee throbbed. My headspace was awful. I couldn’t stop thinking about waking up the house and how trying to fit my running needs into a day is becoming more and more impossible.  I thought I had found the magic solution in these early morning runs and for two glorious weeks, it really was. My quiet time. It was almost like what I was doing was a secret b/c nobody was awake (until you know, I came on and blogged about it and told everyone on the Internet). I started my morning off in a great mood.

Well today that mood is not there my friends. I somehow managed to complete the 5.2K run but I honestly don’t know how. By lap three I had tears in my eyes and it was all I could do to hold it together. Yeah, yeah, my knee hurt, but that really wasn’t it. Me and the Knee have danced this routine for many years so I’m used to its protests and it’s used to me ignoring its screams. It was my mind and thoughts that were getting to me.

So here I was running, or trying to run I should say and all I could think about was how awful I was doing. And I knew I shouldn’t be thinking that, and I knew it would hurt the run, but I couldn’t stop. I was really beating myself up this morning, wondering why I couldn’t seem to progress. I’ve been doing 5.2K 2-3 times/week now for 3 weeks. I thought it would be different by now, either easier, faster, or transforming into longer distances. None of those things are happening.

And the mind spiraled from there. Slippery slope. From the “it’s so hard ” to “why is it still so hard” to “i’m not doing this right” to “maybe i shouldn’t be doing this” and back to “why is it still so hard?”

Granted, my schedule these days is not conducive to really placing emphasis on the run. My husband suggested I change my route, that maybe my body is getting bored with running the same area. He’s probably right but you know what? It’s all I can do right now. I only have 30min in the morning to run. Knowing I can leave my house and be back in half an hour and not have to prepare much or take a gym bag somewhere or pack work clothes is so refreshing; so freeing.

Running in the evenings is too hard. My husband is out twice a week and we tend to be social on the weekends. That would leave me Monday and Wednesdays to try, and these evenings are dedicated to marking (another hat I wear). We talked about me trying to squeeze a run in at 6pm when hubby gets off work: we might try this. A 6-630 run would allow me to get in my exercise pre-supper, pre-K’s bedtime, pre-marking time. And,  I wouldn’t feel guilty about waking people up! I would miss the early morning freedom though…

Maybe, too, with my knee, running three times a week is too aggressive? Maybe I should go back to twice a week? If I did that, I would have to balance it out with something else, as I find going 4 days between exercise is too hard. I’m investigating maybe doing a Kettlebell class once a week with co-blogger/runner/amazing writer Wendy, but again, I’ll have to look at our schedules and see where it fits. I’m hoping I can do this though.

I don’t want to quit and I know today I’m just falling victim to a mind that is attempting to wear me down. It will pass. I’m trying not to focus on how well you all are doing! It’s so hard to be supportive to a spouse who is running 28+K this weekend when I can barely survive the 5! Again on my better days (which, really, is the norm), I realize that my knee will never allow me to run those distances (I’m not even sure I’ll make it to my 10K goal at this point), but on those bad days, nasty thoughts get in your head and play games don’t they?

I’m not going to end on a pity note and play the “poor me” card. That’s not my style. I don’t want that. I know I’m lucky to run even 5K and that some people would love to be able to do that. I’m lucky I have a family, despite the scheduling conflicts it causes. And I’m damn lucky to have the life I do. Trust me: I’m blessed and grateful. Today is just off.

And, despite all these negative thoughts swirling in my head, I did complete the run. I did. It just didn’t feel good.

I will, however, ask advice from you folk. And let’s keep it to battling the mind rather than what I should or shouldn’t do to get over this slump (that will come, I know). How do you banish these negative thoughts when running? What games do you play to stay positive? How do you encourage yourself while running? Also, how do you not focus so hard on the body/how hard it is and enjoy the experience? Can you teach yourself to zone out?

I’d really like to know.


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About Christine

Christine is the co-owner of Manley Mann Media and on the Board of Directors for the Islanders By Choice Alliance. In her spare time, Christine enjoys a good cup of coffee, an excellent book, and a square of chocolate (to off-set her love of food, she also enjoys various exercise endevours!).
This entry was posted in 5-10 km, Challenges. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Discouraged

  1. bon says:

    i’d like to know too. because my mind has tended to stop me before i ever got started. or the minute my body drew attention to itself. and for years, i just thought that was when you stopped.

    i’d like to try again.

    chin up and hang in there. you’re doing good. really.

    • Christine says:

      Thanks Bon. I wish I had some mind tricks to share, but I don’t. My husband tells me to daydream, but I don’t know how. It’s the same thing that plagues many women, I believe: I don’t know how to turn my mind off. It’s the never-ending-list-of-things-to-do that prevents sleep. It’s the reason I gave up yoga.

      If I learn anything, I’ll most certainly share.

  2. scaryfishpei says:

    Changing your routine regularly is vitally important; the only way you’re going to progress is to shock your body and show it who is in control. Experts say the body can get used to a regime in just a couple of weeks, but I find that changing my running time/level/pattern every week is getting the best results.

    Preparation seems to be a key issue given your hectic life. My advice would be, get absolutely everything ready for your morning run the second you get home from work (and not late at night when you are tired and synapses are shutting off).

    Zoning out is something I’m struggling with right now, too. Music was a ltitle too distracting, so I concentrate on the numbing thud of my feet hitting the treadmill. I tend to think a lot; I think about ideas I want to develop or passages from my novel I’ve yet to write.

  3. karoach says:

    I have to believe it is all about pushing out the negative thoughts and every time one creeps into your head, replace it with a positive one. I know, that sounds like it isn’t going to work, but try it. 🙂 With that being said, we all have weeks/days that don’t work out. We like routines, and when life interrupts them it really sucks, just make adjustments and keep going. You are doing so great. You can do it! 🙂

  4. jengalle says:

    You’re doing a great job Christine. We all have days like this. There are days when I absolutely can’t do a 5K. I’m just not in the right headspace for it. You’re a working mom, and you’re doing everything right (prepping the night before, working out a schedule that works for you, mapping out a route). It’s sometimes just really hard to get out that door.

    As for encouraging yourself while running, have you thought of a catchword? I read about this on a running site. A lot of elite runners have a word or phrase they repeat to themselves when they’re feeling discouraged. It should be something inspirational, like “gazelle” or “stay strong” or something like that. Sadly, mine is a little depressing. I just repeat “It’s just going to hurt, it’s just going to hurt, no big deal, it’s just going to hurt.” Not very inspirational, but it got me through my first marathon.

    Good luck on your next run. Stay strong, and just remember that you’re out there, and that’s what counts.

  5. Amy says:

    I’m so sorry you had a bad run-i know what those are like. As hard as it may be to change up your running route, perhaps it is time to make a small change if you can. A change of scenery, even just once a week, would probably be helpful.

    I have often found that after a particularly bad run that ones that followed turned out to be awesome! So keep you chin up, but don’t forget to listen to your body-if she is crying for rest…give it to her 🙂

  6. Wendy says:

    Oh, I have so much to say in response to your questions Christine…and not enough time at the moment. I had a really tough run too – this passed Sunday for which I haven’t yet finished the blog entry; if I find enough time, perhaps I’ll marry the two. The short version? Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.

    Thanks for the kettlebell mention, and the humbling words about my writing. You just might like the swinging spitball.

  7. Stephanie says:

    Hey Christine,
    Two things:
    1) I need to know what parts of a run I am going to find the hardest – for example, I always struggle with the first 15 minutes and the last. It’s purely mental. I can rationally say to myself that I feel great, my breathing is strong, but my mind wants to shut me down. I find that running with a partner who has the opposite ‘weak’ times to me is really great. I have a great friend who struggles with the middles, while I struggle with the bookends, we often keep each other going through the run b/c we know when each of us is going to have a hard time and we kick it up a notch (verbally) during those times to help each other out.

    If you’re running alone, it’s a little trickier but I just use my fall back at those times – trying to recite definitions (if I’m in a studying mode) or trying to recite pieces of scripture (which is kind of like using the key word that Jen spoke about). The kicker is that both take so long, that by the time I’ve listed of either several definitions or several passages, I’ve run right through my tough 15 minutes! Then I just tell myself how awesome I am doing all through the middle of the run:) A little self-praise is totally warranted while running!

    2) I find that having a goal that I will eventually SEE is helpful. For example, if I know that the last 15 minutes of my run is going to be tough for me – I plan to finish my run along a straight path where I know I will eventually see my end point marker (for me it’s a ‘no exit’ sign at the end of the street). I can’t see it for most of the last 15 minutes, but knowing that I will see it soon and that I just have to make it to the sign really helps me.

  8. scaryfishpei says:

    Another trick I use is, every time I think about giving up, I imagine myself naked in front of the bathroom mirror.

    Try it.

    (obviously imagine *yourself*, not me…)

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