When You Run, You Win the Day

Megan, that is some life you’ve already had for a young person. Judging by the progress on your bucket list it seems like you’re winning… Depression is, rightly, being more recognised and accepted as an illness. Have you found (or not) that your running helps you in this regard? Oh, and what’s your target time for your half-marathon?

Roy McCarthy
Blog: https://backontherock.com/

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Hi Roy!

Thanks for stopping by! I definitely feel like I’m winning at life, although, I cannot say that I always have felt this way. Our inner struggles might make us who we are, but understanding them is quite difficult. It isn’t until we truly understand and accept what lies within us, that we can overcome it.

I shut a lot of people out at an early age. I was seven when my parents got divorced, and, for a long time, I thought it was my fault. (Mom, I know you’re reading this, so don’t worry, I haven’t felt this way in ages. Love you!) I wasn’t one of those kids who turned to the school books to distract me. I was a very average child when it came to school. But sports kept me going. I started basketball in 5th grade and, while I wasn’t the best on the team, I certainly wasn’t the worst. Our practices in grade school weren’t very intense — I mean, we were in grade school, not in college — but going to practice and running up and down the court and learning the plays kept me occupied enough to not have to think about depression.

In every single stage of my life, running and sports have pulled me through. I have something to focus on. Something that didn’t necessarily require me to engage with other people emotionally. I had my teammates and while I didn’t trust them to keep any of my secrets, I trusted that they wanted to win as much as I did so we performed well as a team.

It was funny though… I always had this want to be around people. I didn’t like being alone. I wasn’t comfortable. I didn’t know how to be alone. I would surround myself with my basketball or volleyball teammates, but not have any friends. They were my teammates. They were not my friends. I had a very very small group of friends once I got to high-school, but it was a very close-knit group of about 5 girls. And that’s it. But I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

Now my experience and thoughts on my actual high-school days isn’t all that revolutionary. High-school is high-school. Filled with unnecessary drama and a lot of awkwardness. I think it’s pretty safe to say that the majority of people in high-school have suffered depression to a certain degree. I was wont who turned to sports because of it.

Throughout college, I dealt with failing a few classes, switching majors, boyfriend drama, the death of my grandma and my grandpa within a year and a half of each other, learning the hard way how to handle money which lead me to $0 to my name, transferring schools and switching my major again. But through all of that, the one thing I really enjoyed was volleyball. I was on the Club Volleyball team at my first college, and then I joined an intramural team at the second college. Since I started volleyball in 7th grade, there had not been one year that passed where I didn’t play on a team. (Even to this day! I play sand volleyball every summer.) Going to practice and focusing on how to better pass the ball or how to serve in the spot I wanted to – those things kept me from falling into the trap of self-loathing. I have always had the tendency to get into a slump and focus on the bad things in my life. It wasn’t a constant throughout my entire college experience, but it happened often enough to affect my friendships and relationships. Admittedly, I wasn’t all that great at dealing with it in college. I thankfully have a few friends from that time in my life who stuck around. Most of my friendships from then faded away, but that isn’t something I dwell on anymore.

Ironically, I didn’t really enjoy running all that much until after college. I was a seasonal runner for the longest time. I would run only during the summer, and it was never consistent. About a year and a half ago, I really started getting into running. June 18th 2016 I ran my first half-marathon ever. I ran two more after that. And thus year, I have three more scheduled in the books. I finally call myself a runner. And not even a seasonal runner – I have ran in all of the seasons. The hottest it’s been was around 90 and the coldest has been around 15 degrees F. I’ve rain in pouring rain and snow. Not going to lie, I felt pretty bad ass running in the snow.

runRunning has become such a lifeline for me. And, to be honest, I really wish I would have started running sooner. Because running releases endorphins, it just makes me feel like a rockstar when I’m done running. And that will happen to everyone. I really believe it will. Now, don’t let running fool you. It is very much so a mental game. I can’t tell you how many times I have said “WHY AM I DOING THIS?” or “I HATE RUNNING” while I was running. But I have never once been done with a run and said “well that wasn’t worth it.” Because it’s worth it every single time. It’s almost like an addiction at this point. A healthy addiction. Now if that isn’t an oxymoron!

Running or any other form of exercise has been proven time and time again to help reduce stress levels and help lower your depression. The endorphins that get released while exercising interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain.

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If anyone is looking to start running, just know that it is never too late! I’ve read about so many 90 year olds, yes ninety, that still run – some of whom didn’t even start to pick up running until well after retirement. I encourage people to try the Couch to 5K app. It’s amazing. It helped me get started with running. You can find their website here for more information: http://www.c25k.com/ It’s a free app as well, so there’s nothing to lose!

When you run, you win the day.

Love always,
Megan
#CaffeinatedOpinions

P.S. My current half-marathon PR is 2:46:33. I have a half-marathon coming up May 13th that I’m shooting to shave off 10 minutes. Big goal for me!

 

 

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Thank you everyone for reading!

Feel free to submit your questions HERE (not in the comments)

New Shoes, Sweaty Shirt, No Problem

Getting back into running has been challenging. I was doing well for about a month before I went in to have a sleep study. I was so focused. I was running stairs in my house every night to make sure I hit at least 10k steps every single day. I did a Fitbit challenge group with my friends that I usually won. My running partner kicked my ass, even though most of it was virtually since our schedules didn’t always match up.

And then my sleep study…

I’ve had issues sleeping since I could remember. Back in high school, I could run on 3-4 hours of sleep. The thing is, back then, I would get 3-4 hours consecutively. Now… Not so much. It goes something like this:

Bed at 10pm
Restless until1045pm
Up at midnight. So restless I get up, walk around my house, avoid looking at my phone since the bright light shocks me from half awake to wide awake.
Back to bed at 100.
Wake up at 130.

…..I think you get the point. I wake up at 530am for the day. I cannot tell you the last time I felt rested. I would get a total of maybe 3-4 hours of sleep, but without it being consecutive, I started becoming more tired and hazy than I ever thought was possible.

After my many many restless nights, and many years later, I finally caved and went to do a sleep study. This has been on my bucket list for years, so I finally just caved and booked an appointment.

Diagnosis will take a while to fully find out. But here’s where I’m at: I have Restless Leg Syndrome. And possibly an acute form of insomnia. (Honestly, neither of these I’m shocked by.) Here’s the tricky part we need to figure out: RLS is caused often (not always) by anemia. I’ve been border-line anemic my entire life. I donated plasma in college (because beer money…). My iron count was hit and miss for donating, but I’d say I was fine to donate 75% of the time. Donating blood though? That’s another story. I had never been able to.

In June, I made a diet change which incorporated some OTC iron pills and mostly spinach salads for lunch. I donated blood through work for the first time that month. So my RLS couldn’t be because of that then right? Well it still could be …

For two weeks, my doctor gave me some guidelines to follow and keep a sleep log. No strenuous exercise after 6, no alcohol at all and no caffeine after noon. The alcohol and caffiene rule I can handle, but no running for two weeks?? I don’t get home from work until 630pm and running before work was out of the question because of my long commute.

Ugh. Fine. It was only two weeks. She needed a baseline to see if these three things could be affecting me. And then the two weeks after that (which I’m currently doing now) I could do what I wanted. And we will be comparing the two weeks to see if there is a difference.

In the meantime, I had to get a blood test taken so they could do a full synopsis to see if my iron levels are too low. If my iron levels are too low, she will give me slow-releasing iron tablets. Seems like an easy fix right? Except it can take THREE MONTHS to fully tell if RLS is caused by anemia. If I need iron pills and after three months, I’m still having issues, they will do an overnight study. On the flip side, if my iron levels come back normal, then we will do an overnight study right away. At this point, its too hard to tell of my insomniac symptoms are just secondary to RLS or if I have both.

Needless to say, this will be a long journey to figure this out. But I’m ready to face it.

Back to running:

Since I was not able to run for two weeks, every morning before work, I did 30 squats. The second week I increased to 45. I needed to do soooomething.

Monday I went running in my new running shoes (which I ordered the DAY BEFORE my sleep study so I was torchered for two weeks staring at a box of perfect new shoes I couldn’t use). I was determined to run 3 miles. I got a mile in and the sky drastically changed. I thought I was going to get stuck in a bad storm, so I turned around and went home. I finished 1.75 miles in 18:39. My first mile was in 10:07. My best time ever. I was so so proud of myself!! I can’t help but think squats had something to do with this. And those shoes. Amazingly comfortable. My feet don’t even hurt today.

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Because I neglected to stretch after my run on Monday, my quads were quite sure yesterday. I did an ab workout, along with a bunch of stretches instead last night, and tonight I’m lacing up those shoes!