Blues, Blacks and Blues, and Blahs

I’ve been contemplating several ideas for posts this week, and none of them seemed worthy of being wordy. So I’ll address several of them in brief postlets!

The Blues

13aI’ve been dealing with post-race blues, I think. The third of my four big races is now over, and a good portion of my year has been spent training and planning for these events. Even though another is just under two months away, I feel adrift without a goal.

After the Catamount Ultra, I used my post-race excitement as motivation. I knew I was capable of so much more than I had thought, and so even my long runs felt simpler. I was encouraged to run again. But after Candlelight, with my injuries, I haven’t been running. And when I’m not running, I’m not socializing. And that results in way too much time to sit and drink beer, a pleasurable experience that does not, unfortunately, lead to motivation and encouragement.

I’m already thinking of next year’s goals, but I have never been a long-term person. I want what I want right away. Even the effort of training for an event kept it at the forefront of my mind and gave me motivation. With nothing significant to look forward to, I’ve been down in the dumps.

I know this isn’t unique. These post-event blues are common after any large, monumental activity. When I’ve experienced them in the past, a week or two of routine tends to render them harmless. Wallowing these past two weeks hasn’t helped, though.

I need something big this year. I need to find something to do this fall, whether it’s running-related or not, just so I have something to look forward to. I’m open to suggestions!

The Blacks and Blues

13bAs written about in my Candlelight 12-Hour Ultra race report, I did not emerge from moving for nearly 12 hours covering 51 miles unscathed. The brief break to sit in a surprisingly clean port-o-john at 4:30 am did wonders for my stomach issues that plagued me since 7 pm the night before, but that oh-so-short time off my feet hurt my legs.

Specifically, my knee has been hurting badly. It caused me to walk much of the last few hours in that event, and it’s kept me from running much since the 12-hour event. What started as a sore spot on the side of the kneecap has become an almost-burning ache on the kneecap.

The Internet tells me – as only the Internet can do when searching symptoms of any injury – that I’m either suffering from a heart attack, PMS, or Runner’s Knee. I suspect it’s the latter.

There are a million articles about Runner’s Knee, but they’re nearly all about how to avoid the common injury. That’s like telling someone who walks into a cross beam to duck as they rub their bruised forehead. The only real treatment is rest, and I haven’t run much since Candlelight. But running is my primary distraction from the realities of life, and it’s also my main social outlet.

I’m choosing to treat my Runner’s Knee with benign neglect. I’ll ignore it if it ignores me. Keep running and hope it goes away or I get used to it. That’s healthy, right?

On the positive side, most of my injuries this year have gone away when new ones arose. My calf strain that bothered me for so long has been silent when tendonitis in the back of my knee surfaced. Now that tendonitis isn’t bothering me while my Runner’s Knee flares up. I can’t quite decide if it’s better to have all your injuries at one time and then get rid of them or deal with them individually.

The Blahs

13cBesides the views and the rampant opportunity to plummet down a cliff toward certain death, the best thing about trail running has to be the community. Every trail run or race that I’ve experienced has been full of the nicest, most supportive people. You can’t pass a person on the trails without hearing a “good job,” and people will actually stop during a race to help out someone who is struggling.

So I’ve pondered whether to write about an unfortunately negative experience. Ultimately, I’ll reference it in a confoundingly vague way, because it has bothered me these last two weeks, and writing about experiences is a way I process these things.

A trail runner I know came to Candlelight late at night, and I assumed this person was to encourage and support those running the event. Instead, as I passed three separate times, this person was outright rude and insulting to me. The first time, I laughed as if it was a joke. The second time, I challenged the person with a retort. The third time, I nearly stopped and offered a one-finger response.

Now I understand that everyone is different. It’s possible (even likely) that I don’t know this person well enough to understand his or her sense of humor. Perhaps I gave an indication from past interactions that this banter was amusing or encouraged. But late at night, after running more than 30 miles and with many hours to go, when I was struggling physically and mentally and challenging myself to continue, this was not a welcome, helpful, or appropriate communication.

Contrast this to another member of this same trail-running group who was also running Candlelight. I passed this person several times and ran/walk stretches with him. Each person he passed, he encouraged that runner by name. He knew nearly everyone, and even while he personally struggled, he kept calling out to those who passed him with an encouraging word or just a “great job!” It was clear he meant those words, and he was vital in continuing through the darkest hours of the night.

You can’t let one bad element spoil an entire community, I acknowledge. But this experience will certainly impact how I relate to this person in the future. And, to be fair, it will also make me think about my own interactions with others. I’d much rather say nothing than be seen to be discouraging or rude, even if the words I say are meant in good-natured jest.

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