Monday, September 03, 2007


I am over my cold. Now it's become a sinus infection with what I like to call the "loose-brain headache" syndrome: you bend over and your brains slosh around in your head.

I'm so thankful for this long weekend, cuz I don't think I could face work at the moment.

I am struggling with my running. I don't know why. Two Saturdays ago, I ran a slooow eight miles, and at the time, you were all happy enough to join me in blaming the heat.

Last Tuesday, I ran three miles at about an 11 min mile pace, a definite slowdown for me, and then came down with a bad cold, which put more running on hold last week.

Just this past Saturday I ran 10 miles with my group, in 2:12 (13:12 min mile). My cold had dissipated somewhat, but I was still coughing. I felt OK on the run though—except for the fact that I kept walking for no apparent reason. And the weather was perfect: crisp, cool, fall-like. I would run and then just start walking. I honestly don't know why.

The first time I had ever run 10 miles was in the 2006 Cherry Blossom 10 miler and I ran it in 1:57. I think my longest run had been 7 miles up til then.

Today, Labor Day, I went out to redeem myself. I slept a good 10 hours last night, and got up to run 6 miles. I was feeling nervous. I used every piece of self-talk and pep talk and advice I have ever read or given, or been given! My head hurt before I started, but I just told myself I could quit anytime if it got worse.

So, my headache didn't get worse. But by 2.5 miles, I was seriously thinking of quitting. I tried to just calm down and continued on, because? NOTHING HURT. Just slow down I told myself. I even had a nice Alexander McCall Smith book on the Nano. I made 3 miles in 33 miles, slow but still respectable:

and then I honestly don't know what happened. I'd be running along, listening to my book, and trying hard not to think because thinking was doing me no good, and all of a sudden I would just find myself walking.

The weather was glorious, I had nowhere to be. No pressures.

Mile 6 you can see I just totally gave up.

This is not like me.

That's four runs in a row that have been really really disappointing. I can blame the heat on the crappy eight mile run, I can blame my cold, and I can blame my headache, but frankly, I'm running out of excuses. It's gotten to the point where I'm afraid to lace up. I start out with trepidation, but push those thoughts out of my head and FOCUS on the positive ("at least you are trying, you could totally give up, you walk slower than this, enjoy your book, enjoy nature," etc.) but it doesn't seem to help.

Something mental is going on. I don't know what it is. I just know I feel like a nervous wreck when I'm on the trail, and I spend the whole time trying not to walk. "Just go slow," I tell myself. "Forget about time!"

I think I should start back at trying to run one mile. And here I am supposed to be at 10! I was going to try for the Philly half marathon in two weeks, but have bagged that idea since I think it will make me feel worse if I end up walking half of it (plus it's Number One Daughter's senior breakfast that morning, so I have a built-in excuse).

So yes, there are many worse problems in the world, many many many worse problems. But I really did think I was getting better, and now, I've definitely gotten worse.

I'll keep plugging away, but my confidence level is: LOW.

In happier news, a shoutout to my pal Peter, who ran the Charm City Run 20 miler yesterday, and ... Well, I don't want to steal his thunder so I'll let him tell you all about it.

UPDATE: Another shoutout to my peep Phoenix, who just DISMANTLED her first Oly, The Lake St. Louis Long Course (Oly distance) triathlon! Go, read, be inspired!


Laurie said...

I'm sorry you are struggling so much with your running. I am sure it is mental and not physical. How about changing things up a bit? Run with different music, run in a different location, run with a friend. Try to remember why you are out there in the first place. Your running mojo will return, it will.

Nancy Toby said...

A sinus infection sounds like "still sick" to me. And you know what? When you're sick, YOU'RE SICK.

That is all. :-)

21stCenturyMom said...

I'm with Nancy. You probably have lung congestion that is impeding your ability to get enough 02 and you are not 100% yet. I recommend not getting down on yourself and seeing how your running goes when you wake up one day and realized that for the first time in a month you don't feel like poop.

Get back to us then, k? If you have dropped your pace 30 sec/mile it will be fine - that happens. You will be back 100% soon enough. The most important thing is that you not demoralize yourself thinking this is mental. That's just crazy talk.

Dori said...

I don't see being sick and dealing with incredible heat as excuses. You're s'posed to slow down in the heat. And sick means your body's not functioning 100%. You'll get there; patience, Grasshopper. :-)

Neese said...

oh jeanne i love you. goodness girl you ARE sick just be sick for awhile I can't believe you went out there and ran (and SO fast those first three geez! no wonder you hit the wall 4-6 you are still sick!!). Take it easy for awhile and like you say if you have to go back to square one...err mile 1 then you do! It's OK and I so wish we lived closer I'd start over with you!

Laura Lohr : My Beautiful Life said...

I bet you are still physically run down. Sinus infections take a lot out of a person!

"I think I should start back at trying to run one mile. And here I am supposed to be at 10!"

You did run 10, silly! :) Hang in there! You are getting better. Give yourself a break, you are still sick!

Nina said...

You sound sick to me. And the heat has been getting to all of us--my own running has been not so good ever since June, and I know it's the heat and humidity. I don't think of illness and heat as excuses. Hang in there, and take care of yourself so you'll get well soon!

LBTEPA said...

should should should
throw that nasty word out the window
then go and lie down

all your other friends are RIGHT, listen to them!

Just12Finish said...

It's tough to run when you're not full strength. I have my own problems with walking lately, and I'm going to try to just get through my runs w/o walking even if I have to scarifice some time. It's mental with me, and I just have to get back into the cycle of running the whole thing.

Thomas said...

Ok, so you're sick. And your running feels worse than usual. Helloooo!!! There's a connection somewhere!

Get better first. Then run like the wind again.

IrishBlue said...

I know how you feel, but I think it's a cycle and right now you're in the down turn. You'll be feeling healthier soon and get back into the up swing. Just hang in there!

Susan said...

I think we might be sharing a brain. I sympathize 100%.

It sucks right now!!!

Mark I. said...

Hang in there, Jeanne.

Jon (was) in Michigan said...

"I just know I feel like a nervous wreck when I'm on the trail, and I spend the whole time trying not to walk."

This line jumped right out at me, Jeanne. What's going on in your head when you are running?

I know when I find myself slowing down and walking it because I am stressed and thinking about something and that makes me want to stop so I can concentrate on it.

And I agree with those above about the sinus infection. If you have lung congestion, your lung capacity is going to be waaay down. When I have sinus trouble, I can't breath worth crap and my lungs won't let my legs move.

I would try switching to crosstraining if you can. It won't tax your lungs as much and you will keep up your cardio fitness while you train.

Also, how's your sleep? My sleep sucks and I know it affects my running. If yours is bad due to stress, your recovery will be bad. Try taking a look at that and see if you can make improvements there.

Hang in there, Jeanne.

David said...

Try one of those little purple pills to fix your sinus, sleep, lung, brain and legs. You know, the one that makes you larger, the one that makes you small, and not the one that mother gives you...

And TURN OFF the dang noise machine! Run naked and listen to your body for awhile. What is it saying to you?
Respond like a nice body owner. It's the only one you get.

P.S. I owe you a blogging principal.

Phoenix said...

Thanks for the link, you're the sweetest person ever.

OK - I'm with EVERYONE. You're sick. And I'm no expert, but you sound like you're overtrained. That lackluster, can't motivate myself to get out the door. Just chill awhile. It takes almost two weeks for the body to lose fitness - so you could do NOTHING for almost two weeks and just about pick up where you left off. Think taper. Think GET BETTER. Rest. You'll be itching, burning, begging to run before you know it. {{{{Hugs}}} and Clif Bloks. Can't forget the Clif Bloks.

Anne said...

Never discount the misery and mind games a head full of mucus can wreak. You'll get your groove back once the cooler weather arrives and the cold goes away.

IHateToast said...

get yourself a netti pot! or is it a neti pot?

Black Knight said...

I think you are struggling because you are not in perfect shape because of the sinus infection. However in Italy there is an epidemic viral bronchitis: a trouble for the runners!

a.maria said...

you sound like i did a month ago.

take some time off, go do some yoga, and stop putting pressure on yourself.

and, make sure you're getting enough protein. not a chix breast now and again, REAL protein.

its unreal, but.. that was at least 60% of my problem.

good luck!

Craig said...

I'm with your friends. You are runnign, and sick, and so running yourself down. My presecription (like you would care).

Sleep. Eat REALLY well. Spray Oceans saline stuff up your nose- really helps with minor infections.

Walk, stretch, yoga- whatever else you like to do that isn't running.

When you start running again, start easy, don't bring a watch, just cruise, listen to your body. Push your effort level as you feel able. I'd do a couple of weeks without the IPOD or the watch, and just get fully in touch with who you are when you run. And maybe the same thing at home. Stress comes creeping, and we often don't know it. Some time running alone with no audio really helps to sort out issues that break us down.