My Trail Towards Healing:
Running, Just Another Addiction (Part 2)
|The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change. - Carl Rogers|
Some of you may recall an article I wrote for Ultra Running Magazine in November of 2014 entitled Running: Just Another Addiction? where I debated whether running (particularly ultra-running) was a negative or positive addiction. In the end I summarized that it could be used both ways, but for me and many others who had serious negative addictions in the past, that running was the ultimate expression of life:
So there you have it. Yes, I am addicted to running. And honestly, if I had to quit I probably would go into a slight withdrawal. Still, it is a very different addiction than one that leads to a path of self-destruction. As long as you maintain a strong balance and always refer to your heart for guidance, this addiction is a good thing. This addiction leads to happiness and freedom. My running addiction is an expression of my love of life.
Without me pointing everything out, I hope you can start to see the amazing connection between the mind and body. Spirituality comes into play too...I pray to Mother Nature a lot (which I realized while writing a paper for my Mindfulness class actually means I pray to myself a lot), but this blog post is long enough. Simply stated, it is not a coincidence that once I started listening to my body (or forced to listen) that my mind began healing too (and vice versa). I still don't know what my future of running will look like...but I've found peace in that too.
I still love running, but I found myself with the ability to love myself without the label of "runner". (I had a school assignment where a partner asked me "Who are you?" for 15 minutes...by 5 minutes, I was really searching1 In the end, it was a beautiful process.) With that addiction broken, I have opened myself up for a whole new kind of adventure.
What I have found is this: I am not a runner (label), but I am the expression of freedom the running gives me.
A few take away for my runner friends:
-Make sure you take time off each season. I'd say at least two weeks off running, but a month might be even better. During that time, don't replace running with heart pounding activities. In other words, don't go right into spinning and HIT training...you won't be doing yourself any favors!
-Have friends who are not runners, or even endurance athletes. Personally, my grad school cohort has been a bit of a savior for me.
-If you find yourself out of running because of over-training and/or injury, consider therapy. Most of us are quick to go to the PT or get a massage but forget about our mental health. If you have identified as "runner" for years, not running can be a huge loss and leave you questioning "who am I?". A good therapist can help you maneuver this new path.
-To my surprise, I found a handful of decent articles online when I Googled "chronic over-training syndrome". They don't all have to do with running, but I still found them to be quite informative (and gets into the science a bit more).
I could write a lot more, but both Sandi and myself, as well as numerous writes and online articles, talk about general over-training so I will skip doing so here.
Finally, here are a few watches/reads I found interesting dealing with chronic injury and overtraining:
Anna Frost, coming back from burnout and injury in 2013:
|Let your soul shine bright.|
(Disclaimer: To let your soul truly shine, it might take some digging through all the "labels" you've buried yourself under.)