Sunday, August 8, 2010

It is like a drug, I tell ya….

I am sure that many of you are hooked on the endorphins that come from running.  I reached a place where I could tell in my mood when I needed to run.  My husband has been known to tell me to go for a run when I am cranky and irritable.  But the aftereffects of running aren’t lasting as long as they used to.  It seems like I am cranky most of the time these days.  I even wake up cranky.  The only time I am comfortable in my skin is when I am running*. 

Lately, my life has been really stressful.  It is the kind of stress that feels like a vice grip around your chest.  We are in the same situation we were in last year and it is definitely harder the second time.  We picked up and moved here for a job and now that job is gone.  While the news says the economy is getting better, we aren’t seeing more jobs out there.  You would think that we would have better luck looking in the LA market (as opposed to San Diego) but no.  In fact, we are looking everywhere.  Both of us check the listings, talk with recruiters.  Nothing.  Things are pretty scary.

So I run.  And run.  But when I go out for an easy run by myself, I am alone with my thoughts.  I obsess and fret about our situation.  Thankfully, I have found a wonderful group of friends here and I have no shortage of running partners.  My runs with my friends tend to be relaxing and chatty.  That is great, until my natural desire to “talk it out” takes over and the subject turns to our situation.  Don’t get me wrong, it does help to talk out problems with friends and they are my saving grace, but it isn’t quite an “escape.”

My escape comes when I push myself.  I push myself hard enough that there is no room for the rest of the world.  Just me and the physical nature of the activity.  To be able to push out the world for that brief bit of time is priceless.

The best way for me to push myself is in a race.  There is something magic the way a race increases my adrenaline.  Even a “fun run” that I am not going for a PR clears my head and sends those endorphins into overdrive.  During a race, all I think about is my pace, my next water or fuel (depending on the length of the race) and the runners around me.  I can focus on my gait, my breathing and even the music from my iPod.
Unfortunately, races cost money.  Alas…money (or lack thereof) is a cause of my stress.  Luckily, my dad sent me some money for my birthday in April and made me promise to use it on myself.  Instead of getting my hair done (the grey hair always creeps in!) or buying an outfit, I used it towards race fees.  I went on a roll and ran four half marathons in 30 days.  I followed that by a 10K Mud Run, a 10K, two 5K’s and a 15K

I don’t have any major races on the near horizon** and it makes me sad.  I am training for the Long Beach Marathon in October and the long runs are a good drug for me (three hour runs do become an escape).  I had originally planned on running Montana de Oro 50K in August.  However, with vacations and family obligations, I am a bit behind in my training (maybe if I didn’t do so many short races, I’d be in better position.  Oh, the irony).  I can’t justify a destination race which would cost gas, hotel, food and entry fee when I won’t be 100% prepared.  I can slug through a race that I am under-trained for, but it just doesn’t make sense for me right now. 

As I increase my mileage, I seem to need it more and more, like a junkie looking for a fix.  But I also realize that pushing myself too hard would be counter productive.  I read blogs where runners are sidelined by injury and feel bad for them.  More than that I am terrified of the possibility.  I can’t let that happen to me.  Just thinking about it makes the crushing feeling in my chest increase.  I revised my training plan recently for the Long Beach Marathon and added some six-day weeks with back-to-backs on the weekend.  I was going to start today.  I woke up and was planning on running eight miles this morning (after running sixteen yesterday).  My body was SO tired from a lot of activity and late nights this past week.  I decided that a few hours of extra sleep would do me more good than eight miles.  I went back to bed.  While I feel like I could have run it, I am glad to be a little more rested going into a busy day.

I am officially a running junkie, but I think that admitting it is the way to ensure that it doesn’t get out of hand.  I think I am still approaching my running in a rational manner.  But…if anyone has a race entry they want to give me, I won’t turn it down.  LOL.  If there is a patch for this addiction, I don’t want it.  For now… I am lovin’ it.

Anymore junkies out there with me?

*Don’t get me wrong, my family is wonderful.  My children give me so much joy.  But I feel like I have less patience with them. I am a better mother when I get my frustrations out while running.
**I recently signed up for the LA Eco Mud Run through Jamba Juice.  It will be fun, but it is only a 5K…so not much of an escape.


Irene said...

California seems to be lagging when it comes to jobs. I hope something happens soon. I know how scary it can be!

I go through phases, where I can't get enough of the running adrenaline, then it sort of switches and I feel like I'm stuck in one gear and there's no adrenaline rush. Running is probably one of the better addictions! Yeah, I also think it helps us (as runners) keep our sanity.

Jill Will Run said...

Lisa, My heart goes out to you and your family. It's just not right that you should be in this situation again. The only hope is that it will lead to something better in time, but I can understand the frustration and anxiety that comes with the territory.

Yes, I am a running junkie too. The release that comes from a good run is second to none. But I'm glad you're keeping some perspective on training volume and getting some rest in too. Take care of yourself, you're too wonderful to not!

misszippy said...

Oh, I'm so sorry about your job situation. Cannot begin to imagine the stress.

Please be careful about doing too many miles--like you said, you need the stress release right now and getting hurt would not fit into that scheme! Sending you good vibes!

Lisa said...

I hear on running as stress relief. I've been unable to run for a few months and it's been difficult managing stress.

Best wishes with the job situation

Aka Alice said...

You're singing to the choir here. (about running being a stress reliever), just don't overdo it. Too much of anything (even running to the point where you hurt yourself) is never a good thing.

Hang in there. He'll find something.

If you want to come down for the End of Summer Fire Run, you can stay with me :-).

The Green Girl said...

I'm very sorry to hear about your job situation. I truly hope you guys are able to find something very soon. ::hugs::

I think for most of us, running is a form of therapy and an escape.

Glenn Jones said...

I have two stress relievers - running is one and you know the other. That's why I've always been an evening runner and a nightime poker player.

Best of luckon the career search. I'll be picking your brain - I'll be joining you by the end of the year if I'm not careful....

The Alien said...

I've been there. Last year when I was training for a marathon I felt the same, I needed to run everyday, the faster and the longer the better. And when other things weren't going my way, pushing myself as hard as possible was the way to forget about everything else and get some release.

However I ended up with a knee injury because I pushed too hard, so be careful and find that balance where you can be a healthy junkie!

Right now I only have one month since I started training again, but I can't wait till I become 'a junkie' again, I love the feeling I get after a run when I've been craving for it the whole day.

Hang in there, things will turn around, they always do. Just be patience.

Terri said...

You can't see it, but I'm raising my hand here on the East Coast, identifying myself as a "running junkie." It's been the only thing that kept me sane for the last several weeks since I moved out on my own (I never thanked you properly for your amazing email to me, by the way. I'm so sorry.)

As I was reading your post, I could feel the stress emanating from you. I am so sorry you are in this situation again.


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