The days clicked off this week without me running a step. A couple of days I made it downstairs, but most I just slept. The bed was warm … and safe. And my shoes sat undisturbed through the week.
Warm and safe … WTF!? When has that stopped me from running?? I’ve run for hours before, through the night, on trails. I’ve run three hours, in -18 degrees last winter – twice – on back to back days. But here I was – scared back to bed by a 5 or 6 mile run.
I don’t know that scared is the right word, but mentally I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t make myself run. It’s not that I didn’t want to – I did. It’s not that I didn’t know I needed to – I did. My mind was just fighting itself and the piece pulling for the bed won.
Much has been written about how running helps depression. The brain is powerful organ. And when you give it a shot of endorphins day in, and day out, life is good.
But can a lack of running send one the other way? What happens when your brain stops getting its regular hit of endorphins? That’s what I call ‘The Hole.’ Is it mild depression? Or just symptoms related to endorphin withdrawal? I don’t know, but it’s not fun – I feel lazier, the bed feels better, I’m crabby and just generally unpleasant to be around – for others and myself.
Every day spent in ‘The Hole’ feels like it gets exponentially worse. See – the hole is like a funnel. At the beginning, you’re not too far in, and could relatively easily jump out, but each day you drop further than you dropped the day before. And it’s that much harder to crawl out.
So just go run! How hard is that? Apparently it’s hard. Because I couldn’t. I literally couldn’t run. I couldn’t even fathom running to the end of the street and back.
I’ve only fallen into the running hole one or two other times over the course of almost three years of running. I think this time was a combination of tapering for the GR marathon, followed by an ankle injury, followed by a chest cold that I can’t seem to kick. Is the chest cold a valid reason not to run? I remember having pneumonia a couple years ago. It wasn’t fun. And I don’t really want that to happen again … but … could the chest cold just be an easy excuse to continue not to run since I was already falling into ‘The Hole’? I don’t know … but regardless, it’s caused me not to run.
The last time I remember falling into ‘The Hole’ was around last Christmas. I finally began to break out when I hopped out of bed, came straight downstairs, put on my shoes, and left. I ran in my pajamas. I didn’t want to give my mind anytime to say ‘no.’ I didn’t go far – only 3 miles, but it helped me turn the corner. Even if it did look odd to be running in flannel banana pants.
My wife grabbed my arm yesterday and literally pulled me out of the chair in our family room. ‘I’m going for a nap, but you go run. You need to run.’
I got up, she walked up to nap. I walked to the couch to lay down. I took a short nap myself, but then woke up knowing what she told me was true – I did need to run.
I threw on my running shorts / shirt / shoes, but that was it. No HR monitor / hydration / etc. I just wanted to get out quickly and run. And it was wonderful. Cold and wet, but wonderful.
I took this picture yesterday just before it started pouring. 45 degrees and pouring rain is a little chilly for shorts / t-shirt, but it only made me run a little faster. I ran 6.1 miles and hopefully the rain helped to wash away some of the dirt from being stuck in ‘The Hole.’
I wouldn’t say I’m out yet, but working my way in the right direction.
Anyone else experienced this general funk / negativity when you haven’t run in a while? How’d you pull yourself out?