Things I Don’t Think About Anymore Since Recovering from Hypothalamic Amenorrhea (And from Running Too Damned Much)

I finally gave in to recovering from HA and Overtraining Syndrome in April of 2016. That’s a slightly incorrect assessment of what went down since really it was that my body couldn’t have taken any more abuse even if I tried.

When I began to eat and rest more, a strange thing happened. Many of the anxieties and stresses that I used to carry with me, err...on top of me like a fricking sack of bricks, started to kind of fall away. OK, no, this did not happen overnight, but it did happen.

So here we go. In no particular order, here is a list of things that I do NOT think about anymore.

The Technical

  • What is the weather going to be like this weekend because I have a 4-hour run on Saturday and another 5-hour run on Sunday?

  • What time does my flight leave/do we have to get on the road/is my doctor’s appointment because I need to get a run in before any of that goes down.

  • Will I be able to poop before I leave the house to drive up to the trails or will I have to pull over somewhere along the way? Do I remember if there are acceptable gas stations/rest stops/wooded areas along the way for such purposes?

  • More weather concerns: Can I run in 10 degrees? 90 degrees? Ice? A snowstorm? How much lightning is dangerous? If lightning strikes, do I get in a field or under a tree? Are there bears out here? Do coyotes bite humans? What kind of snake is that?

  • Should I eat brussels sprouts right now if I am running tomorrow morning at 5am?

  • Does REI have the gels that I like or do I have to order from Hammer again this month? Do other brands of energy fuel make me feel nauseous, bonk out, or too caffeinated? Should I be eating real food anyway?

  • How early can I wake up in the morning before it’s actually the night before? (I feel like 2 am is night time, but somehow 3 am is I wrong?)

  • I ran 72 miles last week and so I should be running like 78-80 this week so where do I stick an extra 7 miles in?

  • How many times per week can I run two-a-days without getting hurt?

  • I can’t run on Sunday because there is a hurricane/typhoon/tornado so how do I fit in my long run on Monday and work at the same time? Would it be weird to call in sick to work to run?  How many hours should I obsess about switching my rest day before I need a nap?

The Stupid

  • How much sleep do I actually need before a long run? Isn’t sleep deprivation good training for 100-milers?

  • Isn’t it possible that some people just don’t need carbohydrates in their diet?

  • I must be fat-adapted by now, right?

  • It won’t matter if I don’t have that recovery drink right after I run will it? I left it in my bag in the trunk and don’t feel like stopping.

  • I know I said I wasn’t going to run today, but it’s OK if I do this time since I am so stressed, right?

  • Would a run streak be a good way to start the new year?

  • Should I run around the block to make up the last .3 miles to complete this mile?

  • Re: Overnight Training. If I run all night into tomorrow, what day does the mileage pertain to?

  • I said I was not going to add more races to my calendar, but my friends are doing X race so it’s OK if I just add it, right?

The Spiritual

  • What would happen if I just didn’t run today/ever?

  • If I am not seen as an ultrarunner, will I be less cool? Less interesting? Will people still want to talk to me if I am just “Jill”?

  • What if I tripped and fell right now and got hurt so I couldn’t run for a month or so?

  • What would happen if I stopped in the middle of this race and just walked it in? Walked off course? Lay down in the aid station and refused to move?

  • Shouldn’t I feel better after that 20-mile run?

  • I thought I was working out my anxieties out here, but why do I feel the same/worse?

  • What would I do if I was not out here training? What do humans actually DO with their time?

  • If I stop running, who am I?

  • What else could I have achieved if I put all of these training hours into something else? Could I have been a doctor? Human rights lawyer? Cellist? Fashion designer? Stand-up comedian? Author? Mother?

  • As a person who embraced the extreme, why do I suddenly envy the people who are moderate?

  • Is ultrarunning really selfish? Am I self-absorbed?

  • Do I think that I am experiencing life, but really I’m hiding away from it out here?

Jeeze, that’s a lot...and I know there is more! How did I do it?? I am still not sure. Yes, some of these questions still roll around in my head, but the difference is that I am aware of it now. I am not using training to numb out or distract myself from the big, scary stuff. Some of these things may look familiar to you and some may not, but the message is the same. Take the time to think about what you are REALLY taking into your training. Are hurting or helping yourself? Are you assessing or obsessing? Are you fueling or fleeing?

Food for thought.