Endorphins: Runners’ drug of choice – withdrawal symptoms

It is Wednesday and I haven’t run since Sunday. The symptoms are setting in. I feel horrible; bloated, weak and lazy. I am sure my legs have lost all the muscle mass I had accumulated and my calves aren’t as defined anymore. My head is telling me I am not a runner anymore, I am a weakling – a mere pedestrian instead of the brave warrior of the pavements I once was. I need my endorphins, goddamn it!

I try to tell myself: “You idiot, you ran 25km (15,5 miles) on Saturday and you did your recovery run on Sunday. That means this is the third non-running day – hardly long enough to wreck your fitness”. But the head ain’t listening. Nope, head is stubbornly holding fingers in ears singing “lalalala”. The bugger is alright to coax me to do “just another step” when the pain is blinding but doesn’t seem too keen on being sensible.

I am doing the right thing, I am doing the right thing, I am doing the right thing.

Right?…

But what is a runner when she isn’t running. When she isn’t able to run? I don’t even want to hear the answer to that. When did running become such a defining thing for me?

Tomorrow I have my physio assessment appointment where I hopefully will hear my fate. All my faith rests on this woman to diagnose me, put me on the right path and tell me what to do. Either to tell me I won’t ruin my legs further by running or tell me how to get back to it – pronto.

The pause has forced me to take a moment and think about what it is that I want to do. How do I want to progress (when such a thing will again be possible). Progress seems to be the big thing for me at the moment. When I did my 25km run, my head was repeating “there has to be progress, there has to be progress”. Which translates into – “you have to go further than last time”. And the high that going further than before gives me is unbelievable. I had the biggest grin on my face when I finally fell through my door, I was ecstatic – happy – elated. I tiredly pushed my GPS tracking to my husband’s face from the floor where I had collapsed, wanting to see his face when he took in the numbers. A runner’s high indeed. (Which is why this low is so tough to take right now).

Uups, there I go rambling again. So back to the point – what do I want to do. I am not too keen on racing, whether it’s a half- or a full marathon. I have never done any kind of racing whatsoever. The things that put me off:

  • running an endurance run is a delicate balance of the right nutrition, hydration and elimination – it’s mainly the last thing that I prefer to do in private. To put it simply I dread the long toilet queues
  • running with thousands of others there makes me feel claustrophobic – I like to run alone. Having people all around you, getting in your way, me getting in their way.. *Shudder*
  • will racing ruin my love of running? I followed a training programme before my hysterectomy and whilst the results were amazing I did hate having to do what the schedule told me to. Interval run when you feel like a long run – bah.
  • I think I would faint in the corrals from the pure anticipation of the start. Even when I was watching the London Marathon my stomach turned when I was waiting for the runners to be sent on their way – and I was only watching it on TV!
  • I am a chicken, hear me cluck.

I know there are a million and one good reason TO RUN a race but these are my excuses and I am sticking to them.

So the current plan is that I will build up to marathon distance on my own. I just need to know that I CAN do it. Then we’ll see.

Something that really, really appeals to me and my sense of “suffer for your art” is an ultramarathon. I know I am a veeeeeeeeery long way away from even contemplating one but that is my dream. To be able to complete one of the tough ultras in a desert somewhere. A run that is not just about running but overcoming limits that shouldn’t be physically possible to surpass. This dream isn’t very researched or educated yet, all I know is that I have these images of running in the most inhospitable environments. I guess I am a masochist.

So this is me and my latest update. It is a real bugger that injuries happen. Running is tough enough as it is without having to deal with busted knees or torn muscles. However, I am going to stop wallowing in the misery of it all and start working on things I can. I will start paying more attention to the nutrition again and stop eating crap. I will plank my core strong and when the physio gives me exercises, I will give them my all. And soon I will be out there again. I have that 30km in my sights now and I am not giving up on it. I will tell you already that when I do reach it, I will be unbearable with my elated chatter. Already looking forward to it…

5 thoughts on “Endorphins: Runners’ drug of choice – withdrawal symptoms

  1. injury sucks. i have heard some of the best marathoners in the world say that rest takes more mental toughness than a whole marathon. i believe it. i tore my soleus muscle and had to rest and deal with that crap last year whilst training for a marathon and it was not fun mentally. i just kept feeling like a caged animal. i switched to other exercises in the meantime to mitigate the symptoms though — like swimming or cycling, but i know that isn’t an option for you. 😦 it really did keep me from slaughtering my whole family, though. even though it is hard, and your whole body and mind evenly rejects the idea — rest will get you back in the game faster. i had a hard time accepting that, but it was true. i’ll be waiting to hear what the verdict is on your pain. i’m hoping it’s a quick heal. are you going to sports med? thinking of you!! xxx

  2. I know what you mean about running alone. I love it and it’s my preferred company. When I do run with others in a race or event I’m still on competing with myself. Run your own race, just you. I don’t know what to say about the injury except that’s awful, I hope you get better really fast.

    1. Do you not find that racing starts creeping into the pleasure of running? Training runs become just that – training for the event rather than something more relaxed. Maybe I am missing out by not racing, I might actually get a huge kick out of it, but so far I am not so convinced. 🙂 Thank you very much for your wishes!! xx

  3. Racing is a love/hate thing for me. I love it ’cause it gives me a chance to measure my improvement, but I die a thousand deaths in the corral before every event and swear I will never race again if I live through this one. lol
    You already know I’m crazy….

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