Thursday, July 15, 2010

Doh.

I've said it before and yes I will say it again - personal growth and understanding is a sloooooooooow process for me. Pennies just gently float down and I rarely hear them drop.

Take last night. At about 8:30, after a lovely steak (iron-rich!) supper I was at my computer when in pinged an email from Drusy who hosts the RRT. "Petra, tonight's Runners Round Table is all women and its on Overtraining. (..) I've been reading up to prepare.....and then I read your blog. You've got ALL the signs. and your doc has give the best advice! Log in to the chatroom if you're around at 9pm on Wed. Hang in there! Toni". I read it and thought "Oh Toni - I'm not overtrained. I'm just anemic!". But anyway, I did log into the chatroom. She had some great guests on the show - I was really impressed with Amelia's knowledge and advice and Tory's experience and cautious approach. As they started listing the symptoms of overtraining - tiredness, dreading runs, not sleeping well - I realised that besides my anemia I had all of these symptoms. Ah. Maybe Toni was right. I haven't been sleeping at all well, dreading runs (hell yeah!). There is no doubt that anemia hasn't helped but I think I have pushed and pushed and pushed my training to the point where it has become a much bigger problem. It was very interesting in the chatroom last night to read that really experienced runners like Matt from the Dumprunners Club are very tuned into signs of overtraining and tone things down accordingly during their training cycles - something to learn from. Amelia pointed out that running and training while anemic was like running with only one lung - I was not running well and just hurting myself, making myself worse. She said that taking a couple of weeks off, improving my iron stores and giving my body a chance to catch up would mean I could come back much stronger. Given that she seems to know what she's talking about, I'm going to take her word for it. As of today,
  • I'm going to take a month off running longer. I will do about 5M twice a week - if I feel like it.
  • I'm going to cross train by cycling and doing yoga.
  • I am contemplating joining our local gym so I can swim. Pros - lovely pool, steam room and sauna. Cons - kinda pricey and will I use it enough?
  • I am also going to focus on my diet - I am focusing on improving my iron intake and "cleaning up" my diet. Improving my iron intake is kind of complicated - you have to combine certain foods to improve the iron you can absorb. And keep away from other combos. Like caffeine with my boiled egg breakfast. Hmm. There are ups though - including oysters! Yes!
The bigger picture is that I'm shocked by my own realisation about how much I define myself as a runner - and more than that, as a marathon runner. This is not good. While I am really proud of what I have achieved and will, most certainly, be out there running marathons again in the future, there has to be more about me that I am proud and confident about. And if I can't see that, I need to work on that. As some of you have suggested, I will use my time off to focus on other areas of interest that have been lagging so that I can work on seeing myself in a more rounded way. As well as a runner..

All in all I'm feeling positive. Thank you ALL of you for such lovely wonderful kind and generous comments. I am looking forward to this period of trying some new things and some new attitudes. Stay tuned!

17 comments:

misszippy said...

Wow--this is big stuff! I'm glad you have recognized the signs and you're going to do what you need to take care of it. You'll finish this time refreshed and refocused, I'm sure.

Road Warrior said...

It's the sign of a mature runner when you know when it's time to take a break. Horray for you. You're doing what you need to do to continue to do this for a very long time.

Running and living said...

Can't wait to listen to the last RRT episode! Your plan is excellent. Overtrained or not,seems like you need some time away from running. Swimming is amazing. Maybe you can do triathlons in the future. There are countless opportunities, but you must be healthy and you must have fun. You are a runner even if you take a break from running. All runners take a break once in a while. And you are more than a runner - a mother, a wife, a smart woman, a great guest on RRT, and many more that you can add to your list. You sound really good on this post. I like that and I like the plan!

Meg said...

Oooo...this is a scary post but very, very true, honest and thought-provoking. As usual, Petra :) .
So, I often think about how much of an emphasis we place on defining ourselves by one or two things that we LOVE to do. It's scary because losing what one loves and uses as their self-definition can be a huge loss. You've already experienced some of this loss in different ways this year and you've come through these episodes so solid and strong.
I think that's why relationships and more intrinsic ways of enjoying yourself or even serving others can be a great balance with what we love to do. I think you've figured so much out and I just appreciate you for sharing with us, with me. It's kind of like a wake up call as well as a reminder because these things crop up every day in our lives...
BIG HUGS, you are so smart....

Stacey Burke said...

Awesome post! Thanks for sharing! Keep them coming!

Susan said...

Brilliant! I completely understand the overtraining thing. That is precisely what I did in 2007 for marathon #2 and I have learned A LOT in hindsight. However, it is still hard to tell myself "no" with regards to pushing myself. I guess I have motherhood to thank/blame now. LOL!

I have now had a *gasp* 8 days off from running. Actually, it's 11 days off because 8 days ago I did a walk. I do have speedwork on my agenda for later this evening, and I hope my necessary/mandatory time off will not hinder me much. I think I'll be fine. Next week is a 23 miler. Let's hope rest did me some good!

Seriously, friend, I applaud your realization. It does not matter if we stumble upon these things ourself or if others have to beat us over the head with them... so long as we learn, then we are golden!

Leah B. said...

I totally understand how you feel! I just took 2.5 weeks off from running and it wasn't easy. I also define myself as a runner and when I don't get to run, I don't always feel good about myself. But, the break was so good for me. I feel like I was able to heal completely and let my muscles repair. Now I feel great! And I know you will too :) I just found your blog and I love it!!

Evolving Through Running said...

Outstanding post, and impressively insightful realizations about the need to take some time off, and the need to build a balanced collection of self-defining and pride-inducing traits. Good advice for all of us.

I've reluctantly picked up swimming recently as a result of a couple of forced injury downtimes from running, and really feel like it has helped with training. Seems to really be forcing me to focus on breathing and lung capacity much more than just running has in the past. Also seems to work some of the supporting leg muscles that running doesn't utilize.

Tricia said...

amazing post, obviously hit home with a lot of us

Emz said...

your writing always inspires me.

"evolving through.." nailed it on the head with his [first paragraph] comment.

You are amazing.

Tara said...

Glad you're taking this time for yourself! I know that you will get a lot of of this time and in the end will have a much better sense of you :)

LMC said...

I understand precisely when you write that personal growth and understanding are slow processes. They definitely are for me too. More often than not, I have to be repeatedly smacked in the head to get to a pertinent realization. But, I actually think that you are already well on the path to realizing all those things aside from running that define you and that have carried you on your journey to today. Your readers sense this when we read your posts which are always thoughtful, enlightening, informative, smart, well written and about a variety of topics about LIFE, a part of which happens to involve running. Stay centered! Thanks for sharing life's lessons with us!!

Irish Blue said...

It's interesting how others can see our situation so much more clearly than we can. This is a good thing, I think. You have pushed and pushed, it's time to take a well earned break. Enjoy your self-discovery and take it easy on your body!!

Marathon Maritza said...

Taking some time off is a great idea given what the doctor said and the warning signals you are getting from your body. I do agree a bit - I feel like you've been training for marathons consistently for over a year, no?

Enjoy the time off running, find new workout activities that you enjoy and I know you will come back with a refreshed love for running!

Miss you!
M

P.S. I hear you might be meeting up with Jen in Paris and I am insanely jealous and possibly hate both of you. ♥

lizzie lee said...

At the end of March I found myself with all the over-training symptoms. I backed off, and for two whole weeks I didn't run during the week, but still raced on the weekends for my long runs (including a 30K). It worked 100% and after the 2 weeks I was able to run my whole mileage w/o getting tired.

Meg said...

It's so healthy for you to say you're looking forward to this new time in your life. Reading this post AGAIN, since I haven't HEARD from you in a bit (and I was concerned...)...was great. I "noticed" some new things that I hadn't before.
As always though, big hugs and I hope your summer is going well. Have you tried swimming yet?

Julianne said...

You're so aware... this is good!! I mean, you have to start somewhere right? I think taking time off is a great idea. I'm a huge fan of x-training, too. :-)