When Life Gets in the Way of Running

When I started this blog, I had a few rule I wanted to try my best to follow, one of which was: no apologizing about not posting. Nothing is more annoying than a blog where every entry begins, “So sorry I haven’t written anything in a while.”  My first blog did that all the time, and whenever I see it in other blogs, my thought is always, “Dude, just shut up and write what you have to say already.”


Since its been 13 days, I sort of feel like I should start out by saying I’m sorry I haven’t written anything in a while. Not that I think anyone’s life will be much worse off, but I’ve been posting regularly (at least once a week), a few people regularly read what I write, I’m in the middle of telling everyone about ultra-training and then — POW! — nothing.

It isn’t just my writing that’s taken a hit, but my running as well. I haven’t run in five days (the longest break since my training started 12 weeks ago) and haven’t done a long run in three weeks. I like to joke and say I’m “ultra-tapering,” but life’s just been crazy lately.

Sometimes life gets crazy in the way that makes you run more, because nothing helps process crazy like a good long run, but that usually involves the sort of crazy that is just in your head and doesn’t demand all your time. Since long runs eat up 3, 4, 5 hours of a weekend, when you’ve got lots of crap to get done its hard to justify using that time to head out and run, even when you really, really (really) want to. I know I’m doing another annoying blog thing, which is emoting about an issue without really explaining it, and its something that always pisses me off when other people do it, but sorry. I’m not really superstitious, but I don’t want to jinx anything or have to explain things more than I’ve already had to with countless other people, but I’ll just say it involves a very stressful moving situation that is falling right on the holidays, compounded by the joys of trying to pack up our life while also taking care of two kids, both of whom are getting sick and won’t sleep long enough to let us get anything done.

(The fact that I’m typing this at 2 in the morning while my daughter tosses and turns on my lap pretty much sums up the last few weeks. And I’m getting up in 3 and a half hours. This pretty much explains the lack of running.)

The only problem with being stressed AND not able to run is that all the bad, pre-running habits of stress relief start creeping back. I’m drinking coffee constantly, snacking incessantly, and eating crap I NEVER eat — soda and donuts. I don’t even LIKE soda and donuts. Ugh. But I keep eating them. The only thing I haven’t done is have a cigarette, though I haven’t craved a cigarette like this in 3 years, which was the last time I caved and had one.

And my ultra is in three weeks.  I keep telling myself I’m in shape, so whatever I do these last few weeks doesn’t really matter, but I’d like to have it not suck.  I’d like to go into it strong.  Another problem with running (at least for me) is that I only think of myself as a runner when I’m running — my past accomplishments fade almost immediately, and anything behind me isn’t solid, isn’t real.  I ran 22 miles three weeks ago easy; today, I feel like I’m not “really” a runner and even doubt I could run that far again.  Logically I know I could probably put on my gear now and head out at 2 am and run 22 miles if I had to, but emotionally I feel that its all slipped away in three short weeks.


The good news (and there is good news!) is that some very good things should be happening very soon — that’s what all the stress and donuts is about, the long agonizing process of getting to the good thing at the end.  Again, annoyingly vague, but with a little luck my next post will be exuberantly illustrative as I fill you in on all the details that are missing here, and I’ll be running again.  At the very least, I’ll need a post or two before my ultra.  Damn that’s coming up fast.

Anyway, thanks for letting me be self-indulgent and only sort of talk about not talking about running.  My main rule for this blog was to write about running and not just make it a diary, so I guess I can break almost all my rules in one fell swoop.  Get it out of my system.  Or something.

Okay, Jelly Bean just finally fell into something like an actual sleep, so I think I can set her down in the crib and set my self down for just over three hours of sleep.  Hey, maybe this is good training for an ultra after all . . .


About Chris Van Dyke

I am a 33 year-old high school English teacher and long-distance runner. I live in Brooklyn with my partner, our 3 year-old son and 1 year-old daughter and a growing collection of muppets and trains. Besides running and teaching I like to draw, read, write, cook, and play the harmonica. While I didn't get to run my first ultra-marathon on my birthday, I've got a few more I've set my sights on. You can follow my (seldom updated) twitter feed @aboutrunning. I also blog as part of the Run Smiley Collective.
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3 Responses to When Life Gets in the Way of Running

  1. vanessaruns says:

    I know how that not running bug feels. Sometimes I find a two minute mad sprint around the block helps shake it out with no time investment. Or burpees.

  2. Steve says:

    I hear your anxiety and have shared your stress (pain). It all gets sorted out in the end. Good luck with it all. Regardless of what you decide about the ultra, you’re a strong athlete. Like hair that once cut eventually grows back, your fitness, focus, and desire ebbs and flows, but can always be reclaimed.

  3. m. says:

    you’ll be fine in the ultra — i’m sure chasing nat around counts as training of some kind.

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