I’ve reached an incredibly confusing crossroad as I take the first few steps into my training sabbatical. I remain a medical mystery, and in my best attempts to seek answers I’m faced with more questions. But, with limited memory of what exactly happened to cause me to “pass out,” I myself am out of answers. There is nothing more frustrating than being unable to describe an experience your body endured while you were out of consciousness. With my inability to answer questions and paint a clear image of what happened, I started to convince myself that maybe I’m just crazy. But, fortunately or unfortunately, physical evidence points to the contrary. All that has happened is too real and I’m not crazy.
Without definitive medical explanations for what happened and where to go from here, the only conclusions I’m faced with are the obvious. Any person with the least bit of common sense would see the correlation between what might be “passing out”, or a suggested altered level of consciousness, and my marathon training. Over the past two years without answers, it’s been easy for me to come to my own rationale labeling each incident as a fluke and moving on. In fact, I’ve gotten so good at rationalizing all of this that I even convinced my family that I was okay. Why? Because that’s what tough people do. When the going gets tough, we rise above it. We choose not to succumb to what makes us “weak” and just get stronger. How much I wish I could just ignore what happen a few days prior to the Cleveland Marathon and just keep going. But, I can’t. Having this happen a third time, I’m forced to face the ambiguity, the scarring memories (or lack thereof), and breakdown walls that I’ve built to not face reality. And so without any definitive medical answers, I’m choosing a different kind of “tough” mentality, sticking to common sense, and embarking on my first training sabbatical in my 4 year marathon training career.
It’s not easy to take a step back, considering this is the opportune time in my life to make the most of my running career. I know I have it in me to get really good, and have accomplished so much on my own over the past 4 years. I have the natural ability, drive, and heart to reach what some may say are lofty goals. I’m in such great shape right now, and have secretly believed that I’d be able to break 3 hours in the marathon at some point this year. But, that’s out of the question now. I’m not sure what to do with my running goals at this point, so I’m putting all of them on the back burner and am completely redirecting my focus. Calling this a training “sabbatical” implies that I’ll be back to marathon training at some point, but I’m still unsure if that is even a possibility or if I really even want to get back into it.
Having to step back from marathon training has really help me realize that running is NOT who I am; it’s what I do. I’ve inadvertently defined myself so much by what I do over the past few years, and in some respects have been out of touch with who I really am. However, what I do should not be discounted for its greatly impacting value on who I am. Running brings out some of the best (and worst…let’s be honest!) aspects of who I am. It has helped shape me into the woman I am today. I’m a loving, hardworking, overly analytical, stubborn perfectionist with the drive to do anything I put my mind to and always put others before myself. I focus on my passions, and get really good at the things I do. These attributes have made me a great and very successful runner and teacher…and will make me great at anything I put my mind to. So, I’m not cracking and crumbling because of this zig zag in my life journey. I’m embracing the diversion in my path, and trusting in God’s plan for me. But, I’m going to be honest, change is uncomfortable and certainly not easy…
I am still running, but only in controlled settings. I’m sticking to the treadmill, mainly because I have too much fear to run in a location not close to medical attention. Occasionally, I will run outside with my little brother and have intentions of running some 5ks this summer. But for the most part, when I’m craving the sunshine and outdoors (which is pretty much every day), I just take a walk. And it feels so good!
Although I won’t be training, I may hop into some ½ marathons and marathons this fall if I feel so compelled. I have the endurance to run any distance, but speed requires serious, dedicated training which I cannot commit to. That being said, jumping into long distance races will only happen if I can put aside my perfectionism. I’m going to guess that this will likely not happen. :-)
My main fitness focus for right now is to enjoy running and to stay in good shape….which is what my focus was before all of my marathon mania began in 2009! To be completely honest, it feels great to just reflect on my accomplishments and not be super rigid with my life style. Even if I get the “go ahead run” from 10 doctors this summer, I’m still sticking to my training sabbatical. If I ever truly want to become a better runner…or person for that matter…I need to take this time to redirect my focus. I’m stepping out of my shell and am serious about taking the next steps in the other areas of my life that I’ve neglected.
I think we all should take time in our lives to step back, smell the roses, and just take a walk… :-)