Did you notice? This past week has been super-charged, crazed, frantic and overwhelming. Not just for me. I’m not the only one feeling it. While griping about my own stresses and pressures and schedules, I noticed I wasn’t alone in wanting to scream at the top of my lungs. I heard about it from friends. I heard about it from colleagues. I saw it on Facebook. What in the world was going on? Well, you may buy the theory or you may not, but it is a full moon tonight. Could this be to blame for flipping everyone’s switches to overdrive? Maybe or maybe not but, regardless, we didn’t feel like princesses on the run this week. No, we felt more like psychos on the run. And not just on the run, but in a desperate race against the clock just to get the everyday things accomplished. So what do you do when life throws a full on order of crazy at you and you are crazy enough to be training for a big race?
Well, the very tempting thing is to put that little thing called the half-marathon aside. I mean, when the going gets tough, the tough doesn’t really want to do something tougher. I am not one to blow off a workout, unless things are pretty dire…as in, I am either passing out or throwing up – and even then, it’s TBD. But on Thursday night, after a very crazy day at work kept me at the office an hour later than usual (ie I wasn’t sure if my kids would still be at After School Care, or deposited in front of the school as they locked the doors), I raced out of the office in my heels as if I was already on a training run. Then I drove like I was a Nascar pro to the school where my kids informed me that I was very late. I already felt awful about how long their days had been – but being told I was late made my terrible mood even worse. On the way home, I remembered that we were out of milk. Of course we were. So, while we should have been sitting down to dinner, backpacks already cleaned out and organized for the next day and homework started, we were still rushing around in rush hour traffic no less (please note the traffic did not help my mood and road rage may have ensued). Forget wanting to run, I wanted to run away!
By the time we got home, I was losing my mind. I was so consumed by how far off schedule things were, I didn’t think I was ever going to get things back under any semblance of control and I just wanted to get anything off my plate that I could. The one thing that stood out was my run. If I could just re-invest that 30 minutes, it might help. But that’s not what I did. Kids were settled with their dinner and it was my scheduled time to run. I had a 5K on my training plan – a “fast 5K” also known as a speed workout. The thought only made me crazier – after rushing all day, now I have to race through 5K? I can’t even run leisurely and calmly? I was on the fence about whether to go out at all, but I made myself change into my workout wear, get my shoes on and go outside where there was really nothing left to do but run.
And a funny thing happened on the run. My mood got better with each kilometre. By 3 km, I was actually starting to find the comedy of errors of my day somewhat amusing. It was hot out there and my day had kicked my butt, but I pushed and never let up. No, I didn’t run my fastest 5K ever, but it was far from one of my slowest either. I was proud that I hadn’t let the stress get the better of me and steal my run, my time. And I was proud that I hadn’t schlepped through it just to get it over with. Maybe it helped to release the stress. Maybe I was able to burn off the energy associated with being so pissed at the world. But when I finished, I felt like I had accomplished a great thing. If I had skipped the run, that would have been just another thing that felt all wrong with my day. And I often find that, after a run, the list of things left to do is far less overwhelming. I return home ready to tackle them (usually after a shower and definitely after a Diet Coke!). In this case, the 30 minutes that seemed so precious probably bought me time later in the day – because I was calmer and more efficient after my run. This is the balance that running brings. The rush of “feel good” endorphins can cancel out a crappy day. The sweaty accomplishment leaves you feeling tired in a good and satisfying way, not a beat up and worn down way. This run solidified for me that while it’s great to run on a good day, it is only that much more important to run on a bad day. Run like a beast and then resume your life as a princess, happier with worn and loved running shoes at the door than any glass slipper any day.