On the Run: Week 8

I’ve always been the kind of person whose body and emotions are closely connected. So, it should come as no surprise that my shin splints have me under a little black rain cloud, Eeyore-style.

on the run
  • Days Until Anthem Richmond Marathon: 28
  • Miles Run: 295.29
  • Sads: A lot

I’m depressed.

I’ve always been the kind of person whose body and emotions are closely connected. I will frequently go through a low period, confused because nothing is really wrong, only to end up with a cold or, winter forbid, the flu. “Oh, right,” I’ll say to myself, because my blues suddenly make sense, “I was getting sick.”

So, it should come as no surprise that my recent physical challenge of shin splints has me under a little black rain cloud, Eeyore-style.

However, just like with colds and flus, I was surprised by this bout of depression. I blamed my recent romantic troubles. I blamed my birthday. I blamed the change of seasons. While all of those things probably are legitimately pieces of the puzzle, I’m realizing that I can’t underestimate the impact of the fact that my legs hurt constantly, and I’m running far fewer miles these days in an effort to heal just a little before I get out there and go full-tilt boogie again.

I’ve tried other physical activities. I really have. But I never liked an exercise before I found running, and that hasn’t changed. I thought “Gee, if I like running, a fact which took me by complete surprise, maybe I’ll like (insert sport, class, activity here).” Nope. No dice. Nothing comes close.

Running is my anti-depressant. It works for me the way that no prescription drug ever has. Believe me, I’ve tried plenty. Some were ineffective. Some made me sadder. Some left me fat and unable to get a boner. I finally gave up because having my Rx constantly switched in an effort to find the right one was wreaking havoc on my body. When the side effects outweigh the original symptoms, you know it’s time to try something else.

So, I tried some things that were a little less traditional, including massage, meditation, aromatherapy, and herbs. And they worked…ish. I mean, they weren’t magical, or anything, but I think there’s really something to self-care and the methods I used were a little more time/self-love intensive than popping a pill. As a single mom, “me time” was scarce for a while–try, like, 15 years. So, was it the actual massage that worked or the 30 minutes I spent without another person demanding my attention? It doesn’t matter. What mattered was that I felt better. Or less bad. Because sometimes you take what you can get.

But the first time I ran and grinned, it was a revelation, because I hadn’t smiled like that in a long time. That smile, and the feeling of well-being I experienced, have kept me coming back to running for the better part of a year like an addict. That’s right, I admit it–I’m addicted to not being sad.

And not running is like going off of my meds, cold turkey. I’ve brought back some of my alternative methods, but the “fine” they make me feel is nothing compared to the “great” I felt when running more frequently.

But all I can do is be patient and try to keep my head above water. Bodies don’t heal at our convenience, and I’m just thankful I’m seeing any improvement, at all. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel and, though it’s a pin prick, I can see it. Or a hint of it. OK, well, I have the promise of a light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s keeping me moving.

In a little less than a month, I might be crawling across that finish line, but I’m crossing it, come hell, high water, or little black rain cloud. If you see me on the road, this week, high fives and hugs are not only welcome, but desperately needed. Come let your smile be my umbrella.

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The Checkout Girl

The Checkout Girl is Jennifer Lemons. She’s a storyteller, comedian, and musician. If you don’t see her sitting behind her laptop, check the streets of Richmond for a dark-haired girl with a big smile running very, very slowly.

4 comments on On the Run: Week 8

  1. i feel you. two weeks ago i was right where you are. since then, i have had a recovery i had no reason to expect, and i’m getting ready for my 13.1 trail race tomorrow. but i will tell you, if i were still feeling the way i was two weeks ago…i would not be running it. please consider the prospect that no one race is worth setting yourself back who knows how far. i know a girl’s gotta do what needs doing… but i’d rather you get healthy, find another race, and run that one feeling the way you deserve to. either way, i will virtual-hug you every step.

  2. Tammy on said:

    Running staves off my depression too. I’m training with the RVA MTT and without them to hold me accountable, I’d be home in bed.
    R.I.C.E. those shin splints, make sure you have the right shoes and I’ll see you at the finish!

  3. Richard Thomas on said:

    After running for years, I find the more days go by when I don’t is frustating. Back inmy July, I took a Friday off when I supposed to lift wieghts. My plan was to run the next day with my one hour and forty five minute plus run. I went as hard as could until I had the dry heaves and had to stop and walk. I ran and walked the rest of the way. The next day. before work, I tried it again and finished without getting sick. What happened the day before seemed a one-time thing, which I am thankful for. I think the difference was that I got up too late Saturday, while it was still cool that Sunday since I had to be work by late morning. Sometimes, you have to suck it up. Other times, you wait another day. Or you have to wait until you feel better, no matter how long it takes. These are lessons that I’ve learned over the years, along with moving to the side of the road when a car comes. I hope you feel better and get back in your running shoes soon.

  4. Thank you for this. I am dealing with ITBS right now, and yes, with less than 30 days to the race (half-marathon for me), I get exactly how you feel right now; I haven’t run since last Saturday. I am RICEing along with you. Good luck! You will make that finish line whether your shins cooperate or not.

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