Friday, March 21, 2014

The Tie that Binds

Is anyone else as stressed as I am these days?    Stress seems to come at me from all, family, training, friends, etc.   Some is good stress and some is not so good.    I was reminded during a run the other week how stress and how we handle it can affect workouts  and how our workouts can affect stress.   It is easy to forget how interchangeable they are to each other.   

Stress can affect all areas of our well being.    For me, exercise is one of the key things I do to help with stress relief, and most of the time a really good workout can help me to fell better, especially if I am more stressed.     However, there are times when I think the training I do and expectations I hold for myself while training can cause me even more stress.    And I think sometimes my "bad workout days"  are more likely a product of stress rather than me actually failing at the workout.  

 A few weeks ago I did a run out at Glacier Park.   I was really excited as the temps were at 30 degrees when I left work.    Sadly this was the warmest it had been in what had felt like months, and I was just happy that I wouldn't have to wear mulitple layers just to get out and run.    I also decided I needed a change in scenery which is how I ended out at Glacier.    Well, I didn't take one thing into consideration when dressing for this run...the wind.      I was already  grumpy that day as work had been very stressful for awhile, so I was also looking forward to the run to help relieve some stress.    Well, I realized pretty quickly into the run that I had underestimated the wind and under-dressed (after the run I looked at weather again and noticed real feel was 8 degrees).    The first half of that run was miserable.   I had a headwind, which was slowing me down, I was cold,  I also started to feel nauseated.   I was trying to be true to HR and it was reading higher than normal, which was causing me to slow down even more.    Needless to say, by the time I reached my turn around point, I was extremely frustrated by my speed, how shitty I was physically feeling on the run,  and how cold I was, how my body was failing me,  how I just wanted to have a good run,  the list went on and on.      Fortunately, with the turn around, the wind changed which helped improve my speed almost immediately.    I also started to feel warmer and the numbness in my arms started to go away from being so cold.    After about half mile I looked at my Garmin and noticed the HR wasn't tracking accurately.    So, I started fiddling with it to see if I could get it to work better.    And the HR kept getting lower (to 98) and I knew this wasn't right.   The HR monitor also started to get extremely uncomfortable and I could feel it chaffing me.    And I fiddled with it more.   It still wouldn't work and it felt like it was even more uncomfortable.  

And all the sudden I was pissed.    Pissed at my garmin for failing on me when I was trying so hard to do the right thing by staying in zone 2.   Pissed because it was chaffing me and causing discomfort.   Pissed because I was still cold and just mad that this winter has been so awful.    And all of the sudden I couldn't stand the HR monitor around me, constricting me,  making me even more angry.    And I wanted it off.    And so, during my run, I ripped it off, while running.    As soon as it was off I felt a HUGE relief.  It felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.   And I took a huge breath, looked down at my watch, and immediately started laughing.    Even though I was holding the darn thing in my hand,   my Garmin was still reading 98 as my HR.     And then I realized something else, my running suddenly was feeling effortless,  and my last mile was the fastest (easy) mile I had done in years.    My body felt like it was gliding along and I could just feel all the tension melting away.    And the last 2 miles of that run were wonderful.   It confirmed my love for running and how it makes me feel good.    All was right in my world despite the horrible start to that run.  

And I realized something else.    I think the way I was handling my stress the past weeks prior to this run was not good.   I was internalizing everything, whether I could control it or not.   And it was affecting me.   Sleepless nights, poor eating, poor attitude, etc.    I think it definitely affected my run as well.    That internalizing had turned me into a real grump and my body was feeling this and instead of my run initially helping me, it was making my run even worse.   A good friend once told me that there are many things you can't control, but, you can control how you react  and your attitude towards the things you can and can't control.   I really think that when I ripped that HR monitor off my body, it really was symbolic to me of the things that can bind you and bring you down.    Once I was able to get rid of that tie, I felt infinitely better.     And I have been feeling better both physically and mentally since that run.   I will admit though, that I am still not speaking to my HR monitor and it is still laying on my counter top where I left it after that run.    So, my last few weeks have been done "stress free"  as I have not been wearing my HR monitor and have really been going by feel.   I am trying to do this more in life as well, and have to admit I have been feeling much happier!