This past week I have faced a difficult decision. After quite a lot of thought and conversations with my nearest and dearest, I have come to the conclusion not to line up for the race I was supposed to take part in next weekend. When I found out The Twilight Run was taking place on my actual birthday this year I got so excited. I saw a wonderful way to declare to myself that the changes I have made to my life, this identity I have created and hold so close, is really a part of me – permanently.
Over the past few weeks though, I have been struggling with my running. I have been fatigued (iron depletion and a funky thyroid will do that to a girl), generally worn out, and my breathing has been giving me difficulty. I became conscious of the ever-approaching time to line up at the starting line on the 24th of March, and the expectation from myself that of course I would be racing, no matter what. Upon reflection I can see that I had already accepted that I wouldn’t be running, and I was in fact going through some variation of the Five Stages of Grief – Runner Style.
First Stage: Denial. I thought that if I just kept plodding along, limping through my runs, taking breaks to catch my breath again, and then napping whenever I could, that I would break through the fatigue barrier and come out feeling stronger and better than before.
Second Stage: Anger. After moving through the denial of my problem I became angry. Angry at my body for letting me down when I take generally good care of it. Angry at the fact that only two months ago I completed a half marathon and now I was struggling through a 4 mile slow run. Angry at myself for having so broadly advertised that I was going to take part in the race on my birthday, and now I had to back out.
Third Stage: Bargaining. I bargained with myself. Maybe if I just ran slowly. Maybe if I decreased my training a little I would feel like I would be able to complete the race more. If I just sucked it up and got on with it I wouldn’t have a problem.
Fourth Stage: Depression. I must admit that this one was more about my expectation that the people around me would be disappointed that I wasn’t running. That I had made this big claim that I was going to race on my birthday, and now I was backing out. What a silly girl. My family and friends support my running, but it is not central to their love for me. They would love me either way.
Fifth Stage: Acceptance. Now I realise that I have made the right decision for my body. I have realised that I need to heal myself first. Take a pause. Nourish my body to give it the best chance of recovering to 100%. Take a deep breath and focus on my university work, my family, and my wonderful boyfriend. Go for long walks. Take my training for the Gold Coast Half Marathon in July very slowly so that my body doesn’t get worn out.
So, instead of lining up next Sunday I am going to spend a few days at the Sunshine Coast with my darling Chris, see a movie and have dinner with my family, and then perhaps take a sojourn down the coast on Sunday the 24th. When I stand on the beach with the waves lapping at my feet I will take a deep breath, and promise myself that 26 means listening to my body more, and re-affirming the practices of living a thoroughly nourished life.
I also have to thank Kate for her brave post last week about taking a break from running. It definitely gave me cause to think over my decision.
(P.S. I didn’t write this to play the sympathy card, I promise, more to verbalise the thoughts I had internalised over the past week).
Dear Readers, have you ever had to make the decision to pull out of something you had already signed up for? Any grief to walk away from something that was supposed to be fun?