Final week of classes! Hooray! However final week of classes means I’m stressed out. I’ve been super good this pollen season trying to not over do it. After almost getting my tush admitted last year this year I’m trying to be super well behaved. Ok, well behaved for me.
Today I needed a run. Badly. The tree pollen has been off the charts for weeks now. I’ve been feeling like a caged animal. As much as I love my other forms of cross training I missed the dirt and woods. I was getting my allergy shot this morning anyway, so I figured if I was going to run I needed to do it before my shot and not after.
I knew it was going to be bad when a mile in I felt my chest get tight. Crap. I was doing this run. Two miles in and I finally broke down and took my inhaler. By the time I hit the car I knew I was in trouble. Dammit. It was only 3 miles. Come on lungs get your shit together.
When I showed up at my allergy appointment I’m always required to do a spirometer test. That’s where you blow into a tube and it measures how much air your moving. My normal read is 550. That’s a great number. Today I blew a 490. For those that are statistically inclined that’s an 11% decrease in function in “just” 3 miles. Totally worth it. Happy runner. Bad asthmatic.
“Honey you really tempt me, You know the way you look so kind, I’d love to stick around, but I’m running behind. You know I don’t even know what I’m hoping to find. Running into the sun but I’m running behind.”-Jackson Browne
To quote the dear Jackson Browne, I’m running on empty. School has been kicking my ass this semester. It’s not just the five, yes five, classes I’m taking, but it’s the group projects and individual homework load. There are a couple of classes I’m struggling with (one of which is BioStats, surprise surprise), but it’s nice to know I’m not the only one struggling. My classmates and I are all in the same stress filled boat (as sick as that sounds). How does this relate to my running?
There is a limit to the amount of stress your body can handle. Once you’ve hit your limit you can’t handle any more. You’re done. It doesn’t matter the kind of stress that it is; your body doesn’t recognize that running stress is different than 4 hours of Biostat homework stress. It just recognizes it as stress and because my system already is duct taped together (thanks asthma) I have to be even more careful as it doesn’t take much to take the whole system offline and no one has time for that kind of bullshit right now. What this translates to is a change the direction and focus of my workouts.
For now, anyway, I’ve had to temporarily suspend any dreams of increasing my per mile pace or even training for another 50k. Why? Again, only so much stress to go around and since work is paying for me to go back to school (and I have to keep a B or better) my focus absolutely has to be on school. School stress>running stress.
This does’t mean that I’m not running. It also doesn’t mean that I’m not ‘racing’. Although, to be fair, with my slow times I’m never racing; the only person I’m trying to beat is myself. It just means that I need to be mindful in my workouts. It means I run for the joy and not for the X number of miles or the X pace. It means that since I’m already running on fumes I need to experience the joy of working out. It means that if I want to go to yoga instead of running, that’s ok. It means if I want to go climbing instead of running, that’s ok. It means that if I need to sit at the dining room table for 6 hours and work on a paper instead of working out at all that’s really ok!
It’s hard because I like to push myself. I like to improve over my old time. I like to see and feel those tangible results. However, I also realize school>running and breathing>not breathing. I’m working on embracing this shift. It’s a work in progress.