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Lately, I cringe when someone asks me how my running is going. I try to avoid talking about running at all costs. (I really shouldn’t have put “runner” in the name of this website.)
I shy away from the “R Topic” because I haven’t been able to do it much. That discourages me. My depression has kept me from building up a decent base. I barely run.
I finally started to get some consistency back last month. I was going out a few days a week to keep that commitment to myself. It started to look like I was getting back into it.
Now my new meds are making my legs cramp up even with stretching and yoga. You can imagine that this makes running unbearable. There goes the mileage.
For months, the other meds have made keeping my weight off impossible. That’s just a nice way of saying that I can either be fat and less sad with the meds, or thin and super scary sad without them. I resent that I even have to choose.
Despite this, I feel closer to accepting where I’m at in my running. I’m not quite there, but I’m close. November is blazing right toward me and with each missed run it looks like I won’t be lacing up in NYC this year.
I just don’t think I can fight battles on two fronts. I cannot train for a marathon and fight my severe depression at the same time. It’s the reality of this season. But it isn’t just the training.
Even if I had the mileage I needed, Staten Island alone would kill me because of my anxiety. I can barely leave the house most days how would I survive that starting line? The crowds would suck the air from my lungs, and the noise from the cheering would bleed out any joy left in me. How do you overcome that and still crush 26.2 miles?
Instead, I need to continue to focus on the battle at hand. The battle for my life.
That realization takes a lot of pressure off my training. I can just go back to trying to run. That’s my plan now. Just run again.
It’s important to know that I’m not quitting. In fact, it’s the opposite. Acceptance is not the same thing as quitting. Acceptance is just opening your eyes to your new starting line. It got moved by the crap in your life, and now you just have to readjust.
Acceptance can be a powerful thing. In my case when I know where I’m at then I can start building from there. I wanted to run the New York City Marathon in 2015. Because of my depression, that’s probably not going to happen (see how I still can’t admit it). I have to come to grips with the fact that my once dream race isn’t happening now. That’s a blown expectation and a very hefty entrance fee down the drain.
Many people are so devastated by blown expectations. At this point, so many people would just pack up their stuff and go home. “If I can’t have it my way then I quit!” You’re missing out when you do that.
Blown expectations and crushed dreams are part of the journey. I know, they are crappy parts of the journey. But the journey isn’t over. Things just suck right now.
I’m readjusting my goals. My goal today, is to return to running. I want to regain the consistency I once had when I trained for races. That alone will be tough given my circumstances.
I’ve set a measurable goal to run a 5K. It’s humbling but necessary. Crowds and travel crush me, so a small local 5K is a good goal both in mileage and crowd tolerance. I need to rebuild strength in both.
I will need to overcome so much just to cross that finish line.
Getting back to marathon distance will be an emotional triumph for me whether it’s a finish line in Central Park or under an overpass in San Clemente. I don’t really care where anymore. That distance means more to me now than the race ever did. To have it and lose it sucks. I earned that, and it’s gone. It hurts. I’m readjusting the goals but it doesn’t change the big picture, and it shouldn’t change yours either.
Your dreams are not dead, but you may need to accept that they are delayed. Accepting becomes empowering. You learn where your starting point is and then you go. You take off like a sprinter, albeit one that is limping and stumbling at first. You still take off.
You set new goals, smaller ones. You achieve those little goals, and you celebrate the crap out of them. That’s how you create momentum, and that’s how you achieve your dream. It isn’t dead. It’s just further uphill than you want it to be.
Accepting where we’re at should only empower us to push all the harder toward our goals.
At least that way we know where we’re at. Then it’s time to go to work.