Thursday, April 21, 2016


This week I've just been feeling terrible. Not sick. Not injured. Just generally shitty. I'm used to being tired from running, but this is a pervasive sort of crappiness that's extra crappy. And I finally figured out what's going on.

I've been overtraining.

Two weekends ago I ran a half marathon. And it was great! Then I ran 55 miles in the seven days afterwards. In the 4 days from Thursday to Sunday, I ran 12 miles, 8 miles, 8 miles, and 13 miles. Oh, and somewhere in the midst of that, one of my students was promoted to black belt. Which involved over 3 hours of beating him near to death. Luckily he was maid of pure titanium.
Experts in not dying.

On Monday I ran a comparatively short 6 miles, and struggled to run under a 10 minute pace. On Tuesday I ran just 4 miles, and felt like I was trying to run through pavement rather than on top of it. Yesterday I ran 3 miles. Three! And it was hard. Like the first time I ever ran 3 miles as a fastass. Slow, plodding.... Just plain gross.

It's the peak of my marathon training. I have a little over a week left of killing myself before I get to start tapering. Sweet sweet tapering. Most runners hate tapering. It drives them insane. But right now it sounds like naps and cupcakes. Just all the nicest things in the world.

So how do I know I've been overtraining? Because I have all the symptoms.

The first one is fatigue. It doesn't matter how much I sleep, or rest, or if I'm just sitting. I'm just super tired. I wake up tired. There's no ups and downs throughout the day. Just all down. Walking is hard. Coffee doesn't spruce me up. It just makes me jittery. Even typing is exhausting.

My muscles are sore, and refuse to get unsore. I only did 3 miles yesterday, but today I feel like I ran a marathon. My shoulders are sore. I guess from carrying grocery bags? My forearms are sore from all this rampant typing. My legs feel like they're on fire. All the healing faeries in my body are on strike.

My heart rate is crazy. I woke up this morning with my heart racing. I could feel the blood blasting through my veins. It was a bizarre feeling, like my heart was pumping lava. I took my pulse and it was somewhere in the realm of "about to have a heart attack." I finally got out of bed because I was worried the blankets would catch fire.

And the thirst! I was thirsty all night. I kept waking up to drink water. My mouth felt like a desert. Not a dessert. I wish there was a dessert in my mouth. No. A desert. Dry. Other adjectives. But mostly dry. So thirsty. I'm drinking so much water right now that my stomach feels like a swimming pool. This post would be done already if I didn't have to pee so much.

I drank this in about an hour.

Then there's the mental symptoms. Before I realized what was going on, I wondered, why the hell do I hate myself so much right now? I was feeling depressive, and super irritable. I mean, I'm always hard on myself. But it got to a ridiculous level. Like I would have trouble operating a door handle and would berate myself for being the most worthless human in the world. I thought, "Gah! I can't even open a f#@*king door! I hope a truck hits me and rids the world of this mentally challenged douchebag."

Yeah, not good.

Part of the problem was that I didn't eat enough food early this week, especially protein. My body is in a catabolic state. I'm not exactly sure what that means. I think my body is trying to eat itself to keep itself alive. Which doesn't totally make sense. But I ain't no scientist. I attacked this issue head on last night. How?

I ate an atrociously massive amount of food.

Geoffrey's sexy lady friend, Meghan (I asked and she says I can use her actual name!) made chocolate chip cookies last night. And I ate all of them. Not some of them. All of them. She made cod. I ate that too. I was already drinking beer. But they had opened wine, so I drank that too. I ate a Klondike bar. I ate, like, so many peanuts. I can't even remember everything I jammed into my face.

On Monday I ate about 2000 calories. On Tuesday I had 2500. Yesterday I ate over 5000 calories. Five. Thousand. On a Wednesday. I kept trying to go to bed. And Meghan and Geoffrey said, "nooooo, stay with us! Eat more cookies! Drink more wine!" And I did.

The last picture of me looking skinny.

Usually I get pissed at myself for overeating. But I'm thankful I did. My body desperately needed the calories. And despite all my complaining above, I actually feel a lot better today. My legs are still sore. But knowing why I've been feeling down, and eating enough food to save all the starving children in Africa has made me feel a lot better.

As usual I don't have any great advice. I don't really write anything useful in my blog. It's mostly just vanity. "Look at me! I run and write and take pictures and stuff!" The advice in this case is kind of obvious though.

Rest. Drink water. Sleep. Eat (a lot). Rest more. Maybe don't run 20 miles. I'm going to try to do all that. Try. I kind of suck at doing the smart thing. Already I'm punishing myself for my kingly feast by only consuming seltzer and pickles today. And I'll run today. And tomorrow. And the day after. So yeah. Terrible at giving advice, and extra terrible at following it.

There's a great possibility that next week I'll write a blog that says, "my legs fell off. They literally fell off." So look forward to that!

"I always look forward to your demise."

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

How to Run When You Don't Feel Like It

On Saturday I had to do a 22 mile run. I didn't want to but I had to. My marathon is only a little over a month away (Run for the Red), and I want to qualify for Boston. That means I didn't have the luxury of taking off a long run just because I was tired. Tired and whiny.

I'm usually tired. And sore. And at least a couple parts of my body are in pain at any given time (right now it's my lower back and, randomly, my right shoulder). So I usually don't care if I'm tired. I just make up for it with more whining.

But because I'm stupid, I ran 10 very hilly miles on the Thursday before. And then I ran another 6 on Friday. Saturday morning my body was devastated. Geoffrey had invited me to run with him and his sexy lady friend that day. But I knew there was no way in heck I was going to keep up with him at his usual 9:00 - 9:30/mile pace for over 20 miles.

So I told him that I felt "like being alone with my thoughts" and went running on my own while the two of them still slept. That wasn't a lie. But as I mentioned, the bigger reason was that I was just too destroyed to run anything other than "really slow". And I went out while they slept so they couldn't guilt me into going with them. Or lure me with hard root beer (which is a dangerous substance by the way).

Had it been any other day, I would've just done a short run and then not eaten too much for the rest of the day. But lying there in bed Saturday morning, my legs on fire, I knew I had no choice. I didn't think about the run.

I just thought of getting out of bed. That was my only goal. To get up. It seemed challenging. Really challenging. But doable.

Get out of bed.

I did that. I was vertical. I immediately felt accomplished. There's a sense of freedom and empowerment that comes from getting up off a warm and cozy bed. The cool air touches your skin and reminds you that you're alive.

"We feel plenty alive, thank-you."

My next goal was to put on my running gear. That's it. Just put it on. Are you going running? My body asks me. No, I reply. I just like these short shorts. They make me feel giggly.

Get dressed.

So there I am in my room, wearing my running stuff. I'm not thinking ahead. I'm just laying out very tiny little goals and accomplishing them. Creating a motivating pattern of minor successes. And just wearing my running stuff makes me feel better. A sort of memory infuses them. By a similar token, it's easier for me to break bricks when I'm wearing my karate uniform (you can see I'm a big fan of self injury).

The next step was to go outside. This was a tough one. My quads hurt abominably, and walking down the steps was painful. I made heavy use of the handrails. I can't understate here how much my body oozed agony. Once outside I would feel better. Everything would be flat after that.

Go outside.

I still didn't think about the 22 miles. Instead I picked a 5 mile loop that I liked. My only goal was to run 5 miles. That was it. I even told myself that if I felt really awful, I could quit and I'd be close to home. But 5 miles wasn't bad. I could do 5 miles on sore legs.

Just Run 5 miles.

And that loop had lots of street corners. And intersections. And turns. Many many little milestones to break up my loop even further. The traffic that morning was terrible. Usually this is a nuisance. But on Saturday I was thankful for the traffic. Because I felt accomplished every time I dodged a bunch of cars without dying.

Many tiny little goals. Many tiny little accomplishments. All adding up. Some part of me knew I was just tricking my brain. That when I came down to it, I was pushing my broken body to run 22 miles. But I didn't care. I only thought about those tiny little goals.

And I did it. I ran the loop once. I felt good. I told myself I just had to do it one more time. I did it one more time. And then another time. I felt happier and happier with each completed loop. On the last loop I felt downright elated. I reminded myself that I was on my final loop. Oh sure I had to do a couple more miles, but that was just a couple extra streets. No big deal.

It would be a lot easier to just live somewhere scenic.

On that last loop, it started hailing. Hard, fast, sharp balls of ice. And the wind was insane. The hail was flying in sideways, smashing me in the face. But I didn't care. I was so happy to be almost done that I barely even noticed the hail. Everyone around me was running in panic, uselessly holding newspapers over there heads. Not me. I ran like the weather didn't exist.

And then I was done. 

The run felt short. And it felt fast. Even though I ran it at a ponderously slow ten and a half minute pace. That was probably the slowest I'd run since I started training for the marathon. But it also felt like the quickest 22 miles I'd ever run. Because at no point did it seem like it was any more than just 5 miles.

I had finished. I was honestly surprised. But I was ecstatic too. After that I could eat and drink whatever I wanted, and just relax for the rest of the day. And I did just that. And it was amazing.

I'm sure you've heard the advice before to break up big goals into manageable bite-sized chunks. Instead of losing 50 pounds, just lose 5. Instead of writing a whole book, just write one chapter. Instead of adopting all the cats, just adopt 1.

I don't usually bother. I do the things that I feel I have to, no matter how hard they seem. But that Saturday was extra hard. When I broke it up into tiny little missions, it became a lot easier.

Give it a shot. 

Go forth and run.

Friday, April 1, 2016

I'm quitting running

Sorry to disappoint you guys. I just realized that I totally hate running. Yesterday I ran 10 miles, and today I can barely walk. But yesterday I also drank beer, whiskey, and wine, and that was AMAZING. I remember when I used to just eat and drink whatever and whenever I wanted and how happy that made me. So I'm going back to that.

It worked pretty well.

EDIT: Obviously this was a joke (not the boozing part - the quitting running part). So quit slacking and get out there! I've got 22 miles planned on these sore legs for today.