A Runner On The Edge
My body and mind operate normally as long as I don't go more than 3 days between runs. Last week, I hit my internal "red line" and then pushed the needle past the safe zone - I racked up 5 days with not a single step. This was a very tricky situation. My runs serve as a release valve to balance the demands of everyday life. They keep the "junk in my trunk" from builidng up to dangerous levels. The junk is made up of a little stress, a little clutter of many demands/priorities, and too little time of dreaming/thinking about nothing. Without my runs, this junk becomes almost toxic and takes a toll on my body and mind.
By Day 4, I couldn't think straight and certainly wasn't up to do the work that I am paid to do. My brain was not firing on all pistons. Just like in Tom mentioned in his post, I needed some running time to get some work done. Between runs, it feels like a bolt in my brain slowly unscrews itself until my neurons are no longer in contact. I end up with a screw loose. Everything feels harder and takes longer. My coworkers see that there are no lights on and speak in soft, reassuring tones, use small words, with lots of gestures. I stare back like an untrained monkey. If feel a little like Bill's post about being possessed during his taper.
Oh yeah and I am GCRAMBY. That is a mix between grumpy and crabby - just down right unpleasant. Poor Tom foolishly tried to enter my office to ask a reasonable question and was met by a beastlike creature resembling me. I did fire a warning shot to let him and anyone in ear shot now that I am a runner on the edge. My tiny patience reserve was bone dry, my emphathy to others' problems were exhausted. My gas tank was in serious need of a refill and there isn't a run anywhere in sight. Marcy and Nancy - I don't know how you you manage without getting in the runs you want. Rob - you are my hero for getting through weeks and staying positive with your cross training.
On Day 5, a normal trip to the grocery store took 6 hours. I was dumber than a box of rocks and spent 3 hours wondering through the same aisles because I can't remember why I am there and another 3 hours picking out ingredients for dinner- Do Doritoes and Little Debbie Cakes fulfill the food pyramid? All the while becoming GCRAMBY-ier. Small children moved to the side and hid behind their moms. Other parents point and whispered and moved swiftly out of my way. Other runners passed me and silently nod in sympathy, there is nothing sadder than a fellow runner who can't find time to run.
Finally, at the end of Day 6, I couldn't take it anymore. Those work projects that really needed to be done before I went home - shelved. The errands for home that should have been done a few days ago - on hold. At 4:05, I hit the trails for a 4 mile run which is my most theraputic distance. It's just long enough to get the "junk out of my trunk", return order to my thoughts, and feel like I can breath deep again. My body was in complete control from the first step. My mind came along for the ride and was so relieved to be out there wandering aimlessly. When I was done, it was like someone hit the "re-set" button.
Whew. I feel back to normal. Thank goodness I can run!