First, it's been the pre-marathon warning signals. Then, the Boston Marathon. Burden lifted from my shoulders during the 2 weeks post marathon vacation where everything felt like normal again. And we came back to France. Bad sensations, no speed, no endurance, no mental strength. Again and again. "It's normal. It'll be back." But, it never came back. Months after, I still want to run but each and every run is a struggle. I don't know how to run anymore.
I started writing this at the end of July before my right knee decided it would be a good idea to try kissing a sharp rock. Results: I had the
opportunity to look at my kneecap (not everyone can say that), and I won 6 stitches and 3 weeks off any sport (but, I've been lucky, no broken
bones). Now, it's the end of August. I tried running again, last week. It's obviously hard. I want to believe it's just the average normality
of coming back after 3 weeks totally off. Anyway, what I'm talking about in here is focused on how I felt before I fell. I can't tell right now how things are going.
Let's get back to the end of July.
I'm running as if I was a new comer to the sport for months now. Think about these first runs we all had where you wonder if people pretending to love running are totally sane. Here I am. And even if I know that it should pass, it doesn't. I stay to the exact same spot again and again. I'm relentless. I keep going for a run. I stay regular in my practice. But NO progress at all. Months ago, I was running a marathon, and not "just" a marathon, the Boston Marathon. Today, running 10K is a long distance effort and I can't even manage to do it without stopping multiple times.
Just to be clear: I don't feel good about it. At all. I feel weakened. Something has been taken from me. An important part of myself. The system had been RESET. I have no clue how to launch RESUME.
First of all, there are the sensations. That's the most difficult to swallow. I WANT to go for a run. I WANT to run. I need it. Why? Because I love a good run. Go out in the early morning, start to run, look at the beautiful morning light, feel my muscles and my heart working hard, and just feel good, in my little bubble. Now, I go out for a run. I don't need lots of strides to know something's off. It's hard. My legs are painful. I'm not into it. I don't have any energy. I have to take it easy. That's what I try to do. But, really, going slower would mean walking. And after 5K, I just have to stop. I'm out of breath. I shouldn't be. I'm tired. I just stop. I start running again but not even a mile further I need to stop again. And it's like that, day after day, run after run.
And there's the pace. I know, I know. I can hear you from here. It's not the main issue. I agree. But, unfortunately, I KNOW (or at least I knew) what was my usual pace. I knew what was my paces scale. More or less, I now need 1 more minute to run a mile. So, yes, I stopped wearing my watch. But it doesn't change the fact that something is obviously wrong. Also, it doesn't change the fact I KNOW I'm running slow. And the worst thing is even if I run slower it doesn't feel good at all (and I stop as often). So, let's be clear, seeing my pace or not seeing it doesn't change a thing. For sure, something is wrong.
I don't know how to run anymore. I don't know why. It's depressing. My playboy doesn't understand me and just try to put things into perspective by telling me "at least you can run". Can I say I'm just not ok with the "at least you can run" thing if it means running without any joy? I lost the essence of running. Even when I run like a turtle. Do I have to just forget about running long? Do I have to be ok with my new maximal distance of 5K without stopping? Maybe. But I don't know how to do that.
Taking actions and looking for solutions
Of course, I tried to find some kind of explanation. Yes, I know, training and running a marathon is not insignificant. But seeing no progress at all months after?
Taking care of the body
After the marathon, I took it easy. I did not take a total break from running. I never did that before and it worked for me. I think I did it smartly but, obviously, I doubt myself on everything now. 2 weeks after the marathon, we were in NYC and I went running in Central Park every morning. I loved it and I was running "as usual". And now, I wonder: "You should not have gone running 3 days in a row so close to a marathon. It killed you." But, seriously, what's the difference it can make? 3 runs, just because, yes, I was in Central Park and, no, it's not every day I can do that. Should I have taken that away from me? I don't think so. But, here I am, questioning myself on everything.
I mixed things up to let my body take a rest from running. More swimming, more biking. I also tried to avoid running 2 days in a row as much as possible. At first, running was still bad but I could take my revenge on the bike as everything felt good there. And then, I started having bad sensations and feeling sudden drops of energy on the bike, just as on the run. Depressing.
I tried a total break from running. 10 days with no running at all (but bike and swim still). I was not happy about it because I LIKE running. But what if it was the miracle drug? It was not. No positive change to report. So why taking it away from me?
I noticed I felt better (relatively...) on my runs when I haven't done anything sporty the day before. So I stopped cycling. Reluctantly. But the idea was to first find my running mojo again and then, progressively introduce bike rides back.
Taking care of the mind
I came to think it was all in my head. It may be. I don't know. So I tried to regroup and focus on the joy I have while I run. I stopped wearing my running watch. I don't think I'm obsessed with numbers, but, for sure, seeing my slower pace is not a moral booster.
I wonder if I may have become a quitter. I feel like I don't know how to push the limits anymore or what effort is all about. Do I just give up too easily now? If it's the case, I may be sad about it. Is it the real issue?
Fueling the engine
How about food? I thought about it, of course, but I honestly don't know what would have gone wrong. I ate well, to recover after the marathon. Usually, my body knows how to tell me what it needs. Or at least, I think I know how to listen to it. And, anyway, I think I mostly have an healthy and balanced diet on a day to day basis. It's not something I obsess about. It's not a pressure. The playboy and I love cooking. I'm interested in nutrition, how I fuel my body. It's just natural I care to get information about it.
I never said here that we are vegetarian. Since we came back to France, we've noticed it's becoming a trend. And that gets on my nerves. I don't like the fact people just think about being vegetarian and/or vegan as an healthy thing. They just see the shortcut: "Being vegetarian is healthy". And I don't like thinking people will go vegetarian/vegan in a day to follow a trend without deeply thinking about it and getting informed. We can be vegetarian and not eating well. We can eat meat and eat well. My point is: THINK by yourself and make your own informed choice.
If you're interested in discussing about my choice, we could speak about it. As long as it's respectful. I don't want to use my personal choice as a way for people to think about me as an healthy person or "a good girl". Plus, I'm not a nutritionist. I'm not smarter than anyone else. I just try to inform myself and choose my own path.
A possible cause?
So, why did I choose to mention it now? Because we may have found a cause linked to my diet. I'm vegetarian. Alright. But we carried on thinking and, progressively, we ended up cooking totally vegan at home. A vegan diet can be healthy but there's one thing you can't find in your food: vitamin B12. So you have to take a supplement or eat supplemented food (for example: plant-based milk). The body doesn't need a huge daily dose of B12 but this vitamin is still essential for the body to properly function.
We totally knew about that. We also knew that, with no supplement at all, the body is expected to have enough B12 for 3 years.
In the USA, most of the vegetarian and vegan products are supplemented in B12. In France, it's not so common. We started cooking totally vegan when we came back to France (a year ago). So, yes, I thought about vitamin B12. But knowing we were supposed to have a reserve for years made me fall into one of my so annoying flaw: indecisiveness. I compare, I wonder, I think about it... and I don't take a decision.
When I suddenly felt so weak, just before the marathon, I straightaway thought about vitamin B12. The playboy kindly laughed at me reminding me about the 3-year stock we were supposed to have. I could not be B12 deficient in only a few months. The marathon happened and then the post-marathon. I still didn't feel better. So I went to my doctor for a check-up and specifically asked to check my vitamin B12 level. I was B12 deficient.
We are not sure about the causes of this deficiency. My vegetarian/vegan diet is one of them, for sure. But other things can affect it too. My body may not be able to process vitamin B12 correctly. Doing sports, my body will use more B12 than average. Even before becoming vegetarian, I did not eat lots of meat (and not the ones containing lots of B12). I just make suppositions here. But there is definitely something else than "just" my diet as the playboy (who eats just like me) is not suffering from a B12 deficiency.
So, here is a possible cause of why I don't run like normal for months now. My doctor is not convinced this is the only reason. I wanted to believe it was. I followed a treatment. My vitamin B12 levels are normal again. I stopped proscratinating and I now take a B12 supplement. During my treatment, I did not see any clear improvement. I was still at the same place. I know it takes time (I'm not patient). And then I fell. I had to stop running, cycling or swimming. Now that I can slowly come back to running, it will be hard for me to see the difference between "it's hard because I stopped for 3 weeks" and "it's hard and it should not be as hard".
One sure thing: I don't know how to run like before. It's SO frustrating, even more that I'm relentless but there is no improvement in sight. Is there a part of my mind not in the game too? So, now that I'm high on B12 and that my knee is feeling better everyday, I hope my mind will come back into the game.
I wanted to speak about it all here. It's what a blog is for too. Everything doesn't always go smoothly. Sometimes something unexpected comes into play and you have to deal with it. I love running. That's my beloved sport. I want to find the essence of running again. I tried to handle the issue from every angle I could think of. Any advice? Any previous experience? They will be more than welcome.
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