It had been 47 days since I had run 2 consecutive days until yesterday. I went from consistently running 60 plus mile weeks with hours of weekly stair repeats and hunting down new streets of Austin with my dad on CityStrides to absolute nil at the end of September. Forty-seven days...
My hip injury massively flared up (probably due to stress and some muscle injury that hadn't properly healed and/or got re-injured) two weeks before my Grand Canyon rimx5 effort and I have been laying low ever since. The odd part is that for 92 miles of crushing miles in the big ditch, my hip and legs felt FINE. It didn't hurt again until I tried to run flat roads. I ran exactly THREE times in the five weeks after the Grand Canyon. My hip would hurt before even getting out of bed in the mornings, or while driving my car and the few runs I attempted every step hurt and I was in pain the rest of the week. I dabbled with swimming and cycling some (my go-to activities when injured) and the movement started to restore a little bit of sanity.
Today, I ran for the THIRD day in a row since the end of September. My hip doesn't feel great, but it isn't in constant searing pain all day long, so I consider this progress.
But what has been much tougher than just "not running" has been the mental stress that has creeped into my daily existence. My body doesn't feel very athletic anymore, my routines and patterns slipped away, and work stress took over my life.
I have spent the last 6 weeks frantic, almost daily. I've been studying triple time just to attempt to attain college graduate level knowledge for a new subject area each week, distill what's actually relevant or important for a senior in high school to know, and try to come up with interesting activities for them to do to meaningfully explore the content. Yes, I am completely creating my courses from scratch with basically zero prior knowledge in the content areas while teaching both in person and on Zoom simultaneously.
Besides adding two new classes to my plate a month ago, I continue to apply first aid to college essays as the deadlines seem to be every two weeks for the foreseeable future. This means I'm meeting with students during every available lunch, study hall, after school, or sometimes during other class periods and these writing conferences are time consuming and exhausting. But these efforts have proven very fruitful and some early decision students have received acceptance letters that refer specifically to their essays. I love helping each individual express themselves through their writing. And my classes have made me not only a stronger teacher but a more thoughtful human being. I push myself to earnestly explore every possible perspective to each topic or controversy in anticipation of the onslaught of questions thrown at me every day. While the growth can be uncomfortable and taxing, I truly feel my heart and mind expanding in ways I haven't felt in years. I am realizing that while I may have been a high achiever in previous jobs, the level at which I am mentally and emotionally stimulated in my current role leaves me fulfilled and thirsty for more.
But the pace has been entirely unsustainable. I must find ways to feel like myself again and channel my creativity in ways that bring me harmony and some homeostasis.
I wanted to write this post because it absolutely sucks to not feel like a runner or even an athlete anymore. I know that most people probably brush that off because I just ran for 33 straight hours back and forth in the Grand Canyon completely alone, in the night, and didn't even get scared once. And I set a record while doing it. And it was only 5 weeks ago. But in the two weeks leading up to the event and every day after I have felt pretty disassociated with the identity of a girl who runs.
My chronic anxiety fueled by my imposter syndrome at work left me feeling paralyzed and like I didn't even recognize the girl plastered all over my Instagram. And the less I ran, the more I felt like a different person and the cyclical pattern of anxiety fueling more anxiety and self doubt rolled on and on. Pretending to be a swimmer and working on my tailbone callous on my bike trainer was a saving grace, but I still felt like I was in hiding and pretending. The imposter syndrome seeped into every aspect of my identity and it has been a very tough autumn.
I am writing about this in the past tense in order to manifest this phase as something I am no longer drowning in. I have finally run for three days in a row, but I know it takes a LOT more than that to feel connected to the girl that flies through mountains and canyons again and feels the vibrations of the earth with each footstep. It will probably be another year before I feel like me in the body of a woman that shows up to teach so confidently the content is oozing out with organic rhythm and the fulfillment outweighs the energy exhaustion. I hold out hope.
I know that I post about my big achievements and accomplishments, and I'm glad it inspires people, but I am totally just a normal human and these past few months have been messy. I don't want this post to prompt sympathy. Instead, I just want to provide a window into my life to give a more well-rounded glimpse that things are hard. And I don't exactly feel like I know me right now.
If you're local - I could use the company to get out of the work vortex and help create some boundaries between the blur of work and more work. So reach out. If you're not local, call me or message me - I'd love to hear about your life and connect. If you run, bike, swim, yoga or climb - invite me. I might say no, but keep inviting me. My imposter syndrome makes me feel like I'm so incompetent at all of those activities, which can be paralyzing and cause me to not do them out of embarrassment, but invite me anyway. I want to flex the courage muscle and do the things I feel I'm not good at anymore because they used to make me feel so alive when I practiced them. And I kind of miss me.
Sending everyone out there some love today as we fumble our way through life faking it until we "make it." (Do we ever really make it?)