We’ve all done it. Sat on the sofa or the stairs, looking at those running/trail shoes thinking – UGH!! The dreadmill lies dormant, turbo trainer collecting cobwebs, lycra cuddled in draws, running/trail shoes JUDGING me. The only piece of kit I have that seems to have the ability to judge me.
Shoes – I’m waiting for you.
Me – I’m just not in the mood today.
Shoes – Oh come on!!, you said that yesterday. Come on, put me one and lets go run somewhere.
Me – Ugh, do we have to.
Shoes – YES!!!
Me – But I don’t feel like it
Shoes – You’ll feel better after. Go on!!!
Me – But it’s raining/too sunny/too cold/I’m tired….. (any kind of excuse!!)
Shoes – I’m waiting for you…….
I’ve been lost in a sea of darkness and exhaustion from a new job, learning and relearning skills that I thought I would never use again. It’s all been a bit overwhelming. Add to this the thought of training AND listening to my body if I feel exhausted and it all gets muddled up. Which is exhaustion from learning and dealing with too much work or training too hard physically? They feel the same but they’re not.
Mental exhaustion from learning new skills in a job, trying to cope with too much work fuels the feeling of being physically tired. It’s a constant feedback loop with no defined sense of improvement which is why mental exhaustion can be so dangerous if it’s not controlled properly.
Physical exhaustion from running/cycling/strength training. Bone/muscle tired from the physical exertion – this is the “good” tired feeling I look forward to when I’ve worked hard, the runners high. Weak and emotionally exhausted is when the physical exertion has gone beyond what my body is happy with. The fuel tank is empty, I’ve worked too hard for too long – this is the physical exhaustion I need to be aware of and not get too close to. But it’s such a close feeling to being mentally exhausted it’s hard to tell the difference.
Since January my training was getting less and less. The exhaustion from work made the thought of training overwhelming. My running mojo was out on the trails with someone else leaving me with no desire to get outside. My shoes JUDGING me!! Yeah, I’m talking about you shoes!! I’ll put you on later and go for a run, okay!!!! Sigh! Wanting someone to drag me out for a run but knowing I’ll give every excuse possible not to go. This is MY choice and I need to get back in control. But how??
Lakeland 50 – I love this event. Truly love it. It’s not necessarily the organisers or the marshals, don’t misunderstand – these people have created an awesome event. It’s something about the trail from the Dalemain Estate to Coniston. There’s something magical along that brutal route. It seems to have everything to test you. Rocky trails, muddy, wet, hills beyond hills, beautiful views of valleys and lakes, woods, fields, roads. Each time I go back to this event I learn something new. This year was no different. I knew what was coming, I knew what to pack for (apart from a compass apparently!!). I wasn’t particularly excited but I did feel prepared. Something was missing though, I couldn’t put my finger on it. Roll forward to Lakeland 50 and I was taking things easy on the trail, enjoying the views, laughing at the mental soggy ground, breathing deep the fresh air. It all felt good – apart from the third hill climb. Something felt wrong. That feeling just kept growing. 35miles at Ambleside I sat down and my head was full of fog. I couldn’t think straight, I didn’t know what to do. Fast forward 40 minutes, I’m sat with the medic at that checkpoint discussing the dangers of a panic attack out on the trail in the middle of the night. To go on would be dangerous, I agreed to pull out. I wasn’t happy but this kicked me awake! I haven’t had a panic attack in a long time. I’ve come close but I’ve spotted the signs and controlled it. At Ambleside I was overworked and mentally exhausted – add to that the required mental ability to keep pushing your body through an ultra and something has to snap.
Never underestimate mental exhaustion. The physical effects are scary and impressive.
I came home from Coniston with a clear picture of what had to happen. I had to get back into a routine. I had to control my workload at work. I had to concentrate on what keeps me mentally fit as well as physically fit. The plan wouldn’t work if it was too much to begin with so something small, easy to cope with but still enough to keep me motivated. What could I do that wouldn’t make things worse.
I have a turbo trainer, I have a tablet to watch movies on. I also have a dreadmill. I have weights to do strength training with.
WORK – divide my time and STICK to those times!! Stop being controlled by my workload. If nothing can be done about my workload stress then LOOK for another job!!
TRAINING – Minimum of 20 minutes a day of the turbo trainer every morning. No skipping unless I’m doing a big run!!
When the 20 minutes a day doesn’t feel like much – add on 5 minutes until I get up to an hour a day on the turbo trainer. This might never happen but the option is there!
Before the turbo trainer – stretching/core exercises 10-20mins
Evenings – run the plan my coach has set me (if possible).
So far “The Plan” is going well. The 20 minutes minimum a day is helping to wake me up and I’m getting to work feeling mentally prepared. Work has been a bit easier but still way too much to do. Still very stressful with no end in sight for the workload and general feeling of being left out of the loop. My mood has improved with the extra exercise though. I’m still thoroughly mentally exhausted every day. The carefully chosen physical exercise has matched my mental exhaustion to the physical exhaustion and I’m starting to feel a bit more balanced.
So where is my mojo in all of this?
It’s been sat with my shoes, waiting for me to put them on a go for a run! Sometimes a walk on the trails will do just fine!! I just needed to listen to my shoes. Sigh!