Hey there! Today I wanted to just have an honest conversation about not working out, and the mental and physical side effects.
Back in May I was feeling really frustrated with how I felt during my runs. My calves were super tight, my pace was getting slower, I was having to stop for a ton of breaks and I couldn’t make it beyond 30 minutes. That’s when I started seeing a physical therapist and doctor to learn what was wrong.
When I first got the diagnosis that I likely had exertional compartment syndrome I followed my doctor’s recommendation to stop running. That was in the beginning of June, so almost three months ago now.
At first the idea of taking a break from running didn’t seem super devastating. I had been running for almost five years without taking any real break from the sport. I actually convinced myself that taking a break would be good. It would give me the opportunity to focus on strength training again, which is something that I do generally enjoy.
Aside from volleyball back in the day, weightlifting was the first sport that I ever committed to, made gains and found some enjoyment in. Going back to weightlifting didn’t seem like a bad idea.
The First Month:
Everything is Going to be Okay
The first few weeks of focusing on strength training went well. I bought Carly Rowena’s workout guide and was smashing it. I was also do my own lifting routine and kind of having fun.
I missed the idea of running because it’s such a core part of who I am, but I didn’t really miss all the stuff that goes along with it. Like having to plan when you eat so you don’t get an upset stomach, structuring your weekend around the long run, being out pounding the pavement until 8pm after a full day of work, etc.
Instead after work I would just go home and workout in my home gym. It’s honestly nice to work out in the a/c instead of running in feels like 100 degree weather during the summer in south Florida, gotta be totally honest about that.
The first month was, I daresay, almost fun and even liberating.
The Second Month:
Everything is Not Okay
The second month was less fun. It showed me that while I like strength training I really love running. Strength training is something I’m happy to do for physical fitness but running is something I do for mental fitness as much as physical.
I’ve said it many times before, but running after work has always made for the perfect transition time for me between my work brain and my home brain. It allows me to de-stress and relax no matter how uptight the day in the office has made me. That way by the time I get home I’m in a happy, stress-free mood.
While strength training provides endorphins, it doesn’t quite do the same thing.
When I’m (easy/long) running I can listen to music and zone out, or I can listen to a funny podcast and get caught up in the story. When I’m strength training I can’t really do the same because I’m in constant start-stop mode. I take breaks between sets and when I lift I tend to go pretty hard which sucks up most of my concentration. I never zone out when I’m lifting.
So, while I might get endorphins from strength training, I don’t reap all of the same mental benefits that I do from running.
As you can imagine the second month got really dicey. I grew increasingly more grumpy and Adam rightfully called me out on it. He said he was afraid to say anything to me because it might set me off.
I think a lot of times we joke about being grumpy if we don’t get our workout/run in or if we don’t have our coffee in the morning. But the truth is if you’re really passionate about something to the point that it feels like a part of you, and then you can’t do it for weeks on end, and you’re not sure when you’re going to get to do it again… that’s just about the most frustrating thing to experience. And it legitimately leads to unhappiness and anger.
Or at least that’s the case for me.
I stopped strength training about two weeks ago. My heart just wasn’t in it and it made me miss running so much more. Instead I’ve been taking long walks, and while that’s not the same as running, it’s the closest connection I can get.
While running is a better form of physical exercise, walking provides many of the mental benefits that running does. It allows me to zone out and de-stress. I can also tell myself that keeping up my time on feet will help me make an easier return to running.
I mean, I’m sure that’s true. I remember my feet hurting a lot when I first started doing long distance running and that slowly dissipated for the most part.
I also joined a gym but honestly, I’ve barely gone. I was hoping it would motivate me to do more cardio since my lifting is lacking, but it really hasn’t. I’m just in a real funk from not running.
I know not strength training is stupid. While I’m not running I should definitely be working on making my legs stronger, but I just don’t want to do it. I’ll pick it back up as cross training after the surgery for sure, but I won’t do it again until then.
After the surgery I’ll need to do a few physical therapy sessions so I’m sure we’ll do some strength training there, and I’ll definitely want to get back to it when I start a new training plan.
I’ll be in a better place mentally once the surgery is over. Even though I still have another three months of recovery ahead of me at least I’ll be on the right side of the surgery and will be making real progress towards getting back to running.
Running Blogs and Instagram Accounts
To my friends with running blogs and running Instagram accounts, I’m sorry I haven’t been reading or commenting on your posts as much over the last couple of weeks. I’ve been consuming a lot less running content and distracting myself with makeup content.
At the risk of sounding jealous I just can’t read about your running accomplishments right now. I am, of course, supportive of you, but I’m also licking my own wounds (even though I hate that phrase because… GROSS).
I know once I’m past the surgery I will be back to loving your running posts for inspiration/motivation. Until then can we just talk about water based concealers and cute cats?
Surgery is in just one week and one day. I can’t wait to talk about running with you again SOON. Like literally, cannot wait.
BTW if you’re curious, I met with my doctor last week and here’s what we discussed about the surgery and recovery:
I’m kind of obsessed with this surgery. One because I’ve never had surgery before and it scares me, and two because I can’t wait to be on the other side of it.
Tell me one awesome non-running thing going on in your life right now?!
It’s totally okay if that one thing is just that you recently saw your dog/cat/pet playing with a toy and it brought tears to your eyes because OMG how can anything be that cute and amazing? I understand!!