Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Running Triggers and Running Withdrawals

I have now gone 18 days with no running. My streak began at 11:01 am on Saturday, May 25th  and I have not logged a single mile since.  Nothing.  Closest thing was dashing across the street so as not to be hit by a car. But nothing that will register.
My full goal is to make it 4 weeks.
I want to reset my legs. To start over. To try and melt away all the damage I did by training for 3 marathons in 16 months, which for some runners is a regular gig, but for me was an overreach.   I’m fine to lose some fitness and detrain in exchange for healing up my tendons and ligaments. I want to ‘unshred’ my  muscles which have turned to lumps of scar tissue.  It’s working, because my muscles are feeling both fresh yet at the same time ‘mushy.’ When I start running again, it will be to train for the New York City Marathon in November. Lots of time.
I have started biking, and hope to continue. That’s provided some relief, but the urge to bust out on a full run is ready to overwhelm me.
I am being triggered daily.

As a recovering alcoholic and addict, talking about triggers has been part of my life for years. This now relates to running since I am trying to abstain.
-Stepping outside and hearing the silence of an early morning; this begs me to run. 

-The seduction of a sunny, 68 degree, low humidity day;  this begs me to run.
-When the time of the week rolls around when I always run; my brain begs to run.
-When I lace up an old pair of running shoes, which, like most runners, are my everyday walking around shoes; my legs beg to run.
-When I’m feeling any emotion that I know could be sweated out, when I want to rearrange my mood, when I want to unscramble my brain, when the need comes to refresh my spirit; my soul has a craving to run.
Even after 20 years of abstaining from substances, my addiction is like a phantom limb. I have completely accepted that I can't use alcohol or drugs again (and live to tell about it) yet I can still feel my addiction inside of me.

Seeing beer makes my mouth water. I can’t help it. In fact, my mouth watered just writing that sentence.  Drinking plain Squirt makes my phantom addiction expect the aftertaste of Gin. When I watch a movie where someone is getting high, my nose burns and my spine feels an electric jolt. 
And actually, still having these sensations helps. It reminds me I am still sick. I’ve learned to handle these triggers and cravings. It’s as much a part of me as blinking.
As for running, I can’t say how long I can live with these triggers. I have a date circled of June 22nd when I will be in Chicago, and would love an early morning run along the waterfront.  I haven’t had the running high for a bit, and the withdrawals are daily. Like a heroin addict resting his veins, that first one is going to feel so good.  Of course, many heroin addicts overdose and die the first time they go out and use Heroin again after a long break. Their tolerance is not what it used to be, and they forget that they can’t handle it. What used to get them high, now kills them.
I’m hoping my memory of what kind of runs I can handle is there. If not, I will bust out and try to do a 20 miler, and the vicious cycle will continue. There are worse ways to die.


Suzy said...

When I read this post, all I wanted to do was run. I can feeeeel it. I am one, too! I think you're doing the right thing, Mark. You'll have a comeback like no other. Sometimes we just have to do the right thing, and eat our broccoli. The payoff comes later!

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Anita said...

Hey Mark...Funny to read this I think addiction as anything that consumes your mind body ect...How many of us runners feel hijacked by THE RUN. Even by not running you are still thinking and executing your next run. The Run is already planned for the Bigger purpose..

As For New York...I Am going this year and really excited. I will be creeping your training for accountability and encouragement!

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