Monday, March 23, 2015

Keeping it (Mentally) Healthy

Last week I logged just over 37 miles, which was a great feeling.

I have a funny thing that happens: when I forget to be gentle or patient with myself, I see deer. Lots of deer. Deer when I drive, deer when I run, deer when I look out my backdoor. I haven't seen a lot of deer lately. One might argue that winter makes them more scarce, and the spring weather is encouraging them to emerge, but I feel like its an instantaneous form of feedback. If you look up deer as a spirit animal guide, you find they represent love, compassion, and gentleness, particularly toward the self. Tonight, as I sat here beating myself up about things beyond my control, the deer I had not seen in my backyard in ages just wandered through; it was an instant reminder that I deserve as much compassion as everyone else in my life.

Compassion and gentleness through this training process is the hardest part of the training. I used to be able to beat myself up, mentally and physically, in order to achieve my training goals. I can't do this any more.

Non-specific type eating disorders and exercise disorders are tricky and easy to disguise. I've told countless people over the years that my training requires a strict diet, a strict training program, a strict mindset. Half the time I wasn't training for anything, but if I told people I was, they wouldn't worry about my compulsive behaviors of tracking food and exercising to exhaustion. I've worked hard to stop these behaviors. So how do I know if I'm crossing the line back into to disordered habits and patterns?

I've learned a few things about my body: it often tells me what it needs if I shut my mind up and listen to it. My mind likes to should me: "You should run ten miles today because you ate rubens this weekend and someone asked if you were pregnant today (I'm not)" "You should eat only 1600 kcal a day" "You should lose weight to get faster"
My mind is actually a pretty boring place when I think about training. I know I'm approaching the line between healthy and disorder when I start listening too carefully to what my mind says. My mind thinks the only reason I run is to lose weight.

My body tells me so much more though. Like I ran 37 plus miles last week, and my body is a little tired this week, so maybe taking a few days to rest and do some restorative yoga might be a nice gift.
My body tells me how much I need to eat; it will gently prod me to notice I'm hungry. My body knows so much more about itself than my insistent mind. My body knows I run because I like the strength and the clarity that come with engaging in the sport.

Tonight, my deer reminded me that listening to my body and not my mind is what helps me keep this training healthy, and forgiveness, gentleness, and compassion for myself are the necessary tools for being ready to run this 50 miler in 5 months.

I am not perfect, but I am still worthy. I am not going to win this race, but I will finish it.

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