I’ve mentioned in this blog before how difficult it’s been to train while trying to adjust to a new diet due to my recent celiac disease diagnosis. But I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m also going through a very hard time in my life mentally. If it was just a new life change regarding my diet, I would be my old self and say “I can get through this”. Unfortunately, there’s more going on than that. And it’s really hampered my ability to feel mentally focused and motivated to train. Physically, I’m in good shape – despite having to watch carefully what I eat. Mentally, not so much. And they say that endurance racing is part physical and many parts mental. Well, I just lost the second part this year.
I don’t really understand what’s going on with me or why it happened. I’m guessing it’s some type of depression. Maybe it’s my age. Maybe going gluten free has mental side effects??? Maybe after years of being the “fixer” and everyone’s cheerleader, I’m burned out. It’s time to look after myself but I can’t because everyone NEEDS me. I’m an introvert so I don’t unload on others (well, except poor Marc when I’m really losing it). I just don’t talk about it to anyone because that’s not my style. Introverts prefer to be alone when they need to decompress and definitely don’t like chit chat or drawing attention to themselves. It’s equally mentally exhausting.
Regardless, in the end, there’s just been too many mental stressors lately that’s taxed my ability to push forward with long training days. Work is WAY more hectic and I have a lot more responsibilities than I did in the past, back when I could train for even an Ironman – no problem. I have people in my life who are going through a really rough time too and, as extroverts, they tend to want to talk about it a lot…and lean on me a lot – and I am a sponge for people’s emotions. I also feel constant financial stress that sometimes gets so bad, I don’t give a rat’s furry butt and I spend, spend, spend, thinking my retirement plan will be to off myself before I retire so I won’t live in a tin shack and eat cat food at 70. I worry about where I’m going with my life (mid life crisis perhaps?).
It’s all been too much. I’m forgetting important appointments, forgetting to pay bills. Friendships have suddenly become in jeopardy because I make plans and then cancel because I don’t have the energy to go anywhere anymore. I definitely don’t feel excited about training for a big race, competing in one, or even cooking (which I used to love to do). All I want to do is sleep.
But I can’t sleep. I’m having nightmares and anxiety attacks at night so I lay awake, my head spinning and realizing yet again I have to cancel meeting someone for lunch or a social outing because I can’t stop my mind chatter. I feel like I’m going nuts. I told Marc I feel like I’m sitting on a tiny tree branch and rocks keep piling up in my arms and I can hear the branch creaking, knowing it will snap any minute.
Being an introvert, I’m finding I need more time to shut down and do things that are less stressful (I’ve recently took up miniature gardening and suddenly developed an interest in painting!). As much as it’s been therapeutic in the past to go for a long run or a bike ride, there has always been pre-planning and a little stress involved. Biking in particular, as much as I love it, always involved negative thoughts to control and conquer. Such as: “I’m going by myself for a ride for 3 hours – what if I get hit by a car? What if there’s a storm half way through my ride and I’m a long way from home? What if I get a flat and I can’t change it? What if a coyote or rabid dog starts chasing me?” Before, I could just say “shut up. You’ll be fine. Just get on that bike and go” and I would go and enjoy it. Now I don’t have that capacity anymore. Any long training days seems too overwhelming.
So what does this mean? Am I giving up on that dream to one day finish an Ironman? No. I’m sure that day will come…..like, when I’m semi retired! But it does mean I need to take a few years off from any long distance. I want to have fun doing it again.
I still have to contact Calgary 70.3 to tell them I’m dropping out. I doubt if I can get a second rollover for that one – pretty sure “I have to drop out because I’m losing my mind” isn’t really a good excuse! LOL. But I am still looking at a few sprint races to still stay in the game and actually have fun. So I’ll keep you posted as to my new races.
Oh! But I did organize my first team ever! It will be for the River Valley Ultra in Devon. My first race back in 2006 was a 5k trail race in Calgary so it’s fitting that the one race I’m looking forward to is a trail race at the end of race season ten years later J.
In the meantime, I’m going to focus on getting better mentally and still find time to stay physically healthy. It’s going to be a challenge. I have to quit feeling guilty for turning off when others lean on me too much or don’t respect my need for my own space and time. I think that was one of my demons I mentioned in my pages in this blog. Meditation has helped but I need more time for that. I may even seek out a retreat to recharge the batteries and get my mojo back.
So the curtain is coming to a close since I started this blog in 2009 – but it will reopen again my friends. And sometimes it might part a bit when inspiration hits to write again and let you know what I’ve been up to.
Take care – look after yourselves – and all the best for those of you still on the goal path to your dream race. It will happen! Just gotta get over the occasional road bumps and detours.