Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Coming out of the funk

"You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can't know what's coming." - Frank Shorter
 For good or for bad, running is my prime mood regulator.  I can't fully explain why, except to say that it's a great source of joy, empowerment, and stability for me.  I guess copious amounts of endorphins help, too.

The last 5 or so weeks have been, well, just harder for me for a number of reasons, some related to running, and some not.  I haven't felt like my usual self, and recognize I have descended into the dreaded running funk.

I hate having the running funk.

It manifests in different ways and for different reasons and everyone is a little different.  For me, major injury is the prime trigger, but I think post-race blues and changes in life circumstances that affect your ability to run also play in big time.

The Houston Marathon took a tremendous effort out of me mentally and physically.  I had put it up on my little running pedestal as the "A" race for the season and had pretty much been training with it in mind for almost 6 months.  I had other races, yes, but everything was always done with Houston floating in the background.  Recovery and injury prevention were top priority through the fall.  I put a lot of my eggs in one basket for that race.  It's sort of the nature of marathoning, especially when you train to run a fast marathon (whatever "fast" means to you).  You put in tons of hours of running in the hopes that your efforts on that one day will yield good results.  Yeah, no pressure there.

So you go out, run a very difficult, but very satisfying race that you've been working months towards....and.....

It's over.  Euphoria crashes after about 24-48 hours. At least mine did.

Now what?

Well, I did what I usually do.  I took off the week after except for a few very, very short runs.  Threw in some biking and yoga and swimming for a while.  Start planning for the next race.

And yet I've still been in this funk for a while now.  My "fix" isn't working as quickly as it has in the past.

I hate to admit that too, because I've got friends who are sidelined with major injuries and would give anything to be running at all right now. Who am I to complain when I can at least still get out and run?

I think that has been part of my general malaise, too.  It's hard to lose training partners, I mean GOOD training partners.  People who challenge you to be better.  Folks who don't think you are crazy for running 5AM tempos on a Monday morning or getting up before dawn on a Saturday morning to run for 20 miles.  People who make you laugh and forget how far you have to run for the day.

Your running buddies become like a second family.  It's hard to replace good training partners. 
Still one of my favorite race days...Baytown Bud Heat Wave 5-miler last year. You can't beat a good group of folks to run and train with!

But hey, that's life.  Circumstances change.  People change.  Relationships change.  I guess that's part of what I'm adjusting to as well after the marathon.   I don't like change.

Interestingly enough, the funk is starting to lift in large part because of one thing: track workouts.  The thing I used to dread the most is becoming what I look forward to the most, at least right now before the serious heat and humidity set in.  The shift in focus from distance to speed has been a surprisingly welcome addition.

So, it's time for me to get out of the post-Houston running cycle mindset and the junk that has come with it and get into the Spring running cycle mindset.  A 10k next weekend should be a lot of fun and a nice change from racing for hours at a time.

Also coming up, this little race called the Boston Marathon. Tremendously excited to be a part of that special day on April 21st!

I'm also grateful for the many wonderful training partners I have in guys know who you are.  What would I do with out you?!

Onward and upward.