The New Year didn’t prompt me to reflect, evaluate my goals or make resolutions. January 1, 2016 was just another day of training, another day of trying to be better and another day working on my weaknesses.
My “new year” began on November 8th. After a disappointing performance at the Lake Padden Trail Half Marathon and a “did not start” at the Moab Marathon, it was time for a break physically and mentally. I took two weeks off from running, but still went to the gym (Terrain) and took a couple yoga classes for fun. Still, I felt mentally drained and had no motivation to start running. One day I went out for a run, got a mile out and just stopped and walked back to the car. I just didn’t want to run. This feeling scared me as it has never happened before so I went to the doctor and got blood work done. All of my lab results came out just fine and I was pleased when the doctor tipped her hat to my good nutrition.
2015 was an incredible year, arguably the best in my running career. Highlighted by representing the U.S. team and placing 18th at the World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships and by winning the La Sportiva Mountain Cup. Every goal I set I managed to achieve. It’s not very often you can say that. So, I think my problem was simply that I was tired. The day I walked back to the car I gave myself until the end of the week to “snap out of it,” and if I was still in a funk I would take another week completely off from any physical activity. Luckily as the week progressed, I started to feel better and, almost magically, things turned around. My motivation was back and I was ready to get out the door and start thinking about workouts again.
While in my funk, I also wanted to address the anxiety that was overwhelming me the past 3 months. I have had anxiety with panic attacks my whole life, but in the past 3 years the fear has mounted so high that I no longer feel comfortable driving alone anymore. After having a panic attack while previewing the Moab Marathon course, I had had enough. That was the final straw and something had to be done. I did not want my anxiety and panic to keep me from doing what I love to do so I aggressively sought help. I have been speaking with a mental health counselor and started taking anti-anxiety medication. Medication is something I have tried to avoid for years, but I came to the realization that sometimes you just need help and that’s okay. I have no control over the fact that my brain has trouble balancing serotonin. Every day I have been trying to understand my anxiety and working up the courage to face the scary feelings of panic. I strongly believe that if I can overcome this, I will be able to take on a whole new level of challenges because no mountain, race course or competition is scarier than the thoughts in my head.
My goals for 2016 are more fluid than 2015. There is no more La Sportiva Mountain Cup series with points to win, but individual races with prize money. I will not have the opportunity to be on the U.S. Long Distance Mountain Running Team because I did not compete in the qualifying race in Moab. However, this year is an all up year for the short distance Mountain Running Championship which returns to Loon Mountain on July 3rd. Third time is the charm, right?
I will kick off the season with the Fragrance Lake Half Marathon here in Bellingham on February 13th and then my training and fitness level will dictate our next move. I have been logging consistent 80 mile weeks and I had my first workout in months just the other day. The tempo showed that I am right where I left off in October so that is encouraging moving forward.
Other stuff of interest:
If you missed the Terrain Vimeo that we made last fall check it out here.
In the life of a competitive distance runner, December 31st is the same as January 1st, is the same as January 2nd, 3rd, 4th… Every day we strive to be just a little bit fitter, just a little bit faster, just a little bit tougher, just a little bit braver.
Time to go make the donuts.