“Live for the unexpected.” Whoever said that I’m sure wasn’t rolling along the freeway and BAM had their tire blow out…if that had been the case I think their choice of word may have been more along the lines of, “F***” (eeerrr, I mean, “Fudge”…anyone who thought of A Christmas Story just now gets bonus points.)
The thing is, life can be awesome and grant you the highest of highs, but it can also offer up some pretty extreme blows. The thing is, and although when you’re in the midst of a low it’s nearly impossible to pull yourself out of ‘yourself’ and remember this: we all go through junk, crap, shiznit…so you are not alone. Misery loves company, right?
Okay, the point of this post is NOT to be a downer, so wait for it because I do have a reason for this bleak intro and even tie it into running. One thing we love about running is that it is ever constant, it doesn’t change much. You can always count on a mile being a mile, a minute run is a minute run…even if you’d wish you’d covered more distance in that minute than you did. The times are non-negotiable, as are the distances…it’s very clear-cut, black and white. One reason I enjoy this sport is you can’t argue with the outcome…you win if you cross the line first, there aren’t any politics involved such as in gymnastics and scoring sports. You break tape = you win.
Life is NOT a constant. It throws you for loops, lippy-dippies, and the like. When life’s craziness collides with running that’s when things can get interesting. Personal case study: when life deals out say, an injury or a sickness, and it derails the ever-constant running (ie: missed runs) it royally cheeses me off, “Hey, Running, I thought you were a constant and I could depend on you…what in the heck?!”
But running and life go hand in hand; and such is the case with everyone. This plays out in affecting our sport in a variety of ways: when athletes line up for the gun to a degree they are all equals despite what their PR’s are. Why? Because of life. We have no idea what’s going on ‘behind the scenes’ and what they are dealing with…coming off of an injury, a flu, a change of coach, or another huge life stressor.
People can discount or ‘poo-poo’ at how much life stress can derail training plans and say that if it affects your running than you are just mentally weak…but that is a fallacy. Running is very mental and humans are creatures of emotion; while the better athletes may be able to more adeptly channel those, or compartmentalize, better than others that doesn’t mean they aren’t human in the end.
Why do I bring this up? A lot of reasons. One, because to put it out there that if you’re dealing with a life loopy and it derails your constant running, it’s okay to be cheesed off, but know that you’re not alone and that in the end the low will come back up, but to do that you have to keep your head up and keep plugging away. “Stay the Course.”
Second, remember that if your running performances are dipping and you don’t know WHY look to the obvious of course (resting, recovering, nutrition, sleeping, etc) but also look to life stressors. Have you moved, had a ton of deadlines stressing you out, a death in the family…you can’t ignore these and think they are no part of the equation. Factor that in, I’m not saying to skip the runs or workouts, but perhaps adjust them or adjust the times you want to hit…heck, chuck the watch and just go off of effort…give yourself some slack. (I hardly ever say that so when I do I mean it…haha.)
Finally, there can be a lot of negativity in our sport. Message boards can be toxic, as can outside observers who have no idea what is going on. As they say, “It’s WAY easier to look at these professional runners, or any other runner for that matter, and add in your two cents…but I’d like to see any of these nay-sayers get out there and race.” I’ll say it like this, “Spike up or shut up.”
I don’t need to step on a little podium, and I’m sorry…I have friends that race at a high level and are constantly under scrutiny. I’m a person who doesn’t really care if you hate on me, but bad talk my family or friends and it riles me up. Instead of bagging on people for a performance that an anonymous unknown deems is ‘below’ them, how about cheering them on for overcoming some ‘life junk’ and getting excited to see them bust it out of the gates next time?
There I’m done…sorry, this was a bit more of a multi-tangent post so maybe you’re still here, maybe not. In closing, take the loopies that mess with our adorably constant running world and know that in the end you WILL get back to the land of safe, black and white numbers…you’ll just have to work for it.
1) How do you handle ‘life stress’ are you the kind of person who turns to running more or less?
Definitely more. If something is driving me crazy or even making me feel sad I’ll turn to a nice run…if I have a good run I feel like I’ve accomplished something.
2) How do you compartmentalize; if there are other stressors but you have a big race, how do you manage that?
Hmm…when I was racing I was pretty good at just shutting down and focusing on the race regardless. Usually I’m excited to race and just go…plus, back to the first question, running makes me feel better so I use that to help.
3) There are always negative people who want to tear down people at the top; on the internet it is worsened by the anonymity. Why all the hate…discuss?