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.

  • 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.

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