Do you ever have a week of running that just plain sucks? A week that feels like your running is getting worse? Like your body is shutting down on you? A week when you’re tired and annoyed and you say “WHY DOES THIS 5K FEEL LIKE A DAMN MARATHON?!“
That was last week for me. Let’s just take a moment to say it was a big week for everyone. The US election dragged on and I think it’s safe to say that we all had a bad case of the runs and this time I’m not only talking about running. In Ottawa it was snowing Monday and 20 degrees Thursday. Alex Trebek died. IT WAS A LOT. Seeing as it was such a challenging week I was excited to get out there. Running is such a mental escape for me. It’s the only time when my brain can shut off for a second and stop worrying about something that happened 5 years ago or something that’s going to happen 5 years down the road. It’s a little vacation from reality and that’s what made this week so damn annoying.
When I needed running the most, my body started getting sassy. It was on the fritz like a toaster that’s been working perfectly and then starts burning everything for no damn reason. It felt like every single muscle in my lower body was taking turns to mess with me. Most significantly, my foot. I found out I had plantar fasciitis (heel pain) about 6 years ago when I was working at a restaurant that MADE YOU WEAR HEELS TO WORK. Pretty sure that’s illegal. After I stopped working there it went away but guess what? IT’S BACK BAYBEEEE! (more on this in a future blog…)
I went for 3 runs this week, which is much less than usual. A 5k, 6k and another 5k. Each run started out the same. I’d take it nice and easy and then immediately get a cramp. Then my leg would hurt. Then my foot. Then my leggings (which never fall down) would start falling down. My shoe laces (which I always double knot) would come untied. My headphones died. My hat blew off. I WAS BOMBING THESE RUNS AND I WAS BOMBING THEM HARD.
I’ve run dozens of 5k’s before, why do they all of the sudden suck?! I’ve run this same path by the canal. Worn these same shoes, leggings, hats and headphones. Listened to the same Ru Paul playlist and had some of the best runs ever! I feel like I was getting GOOD. Like I was on a roll! What the heck happened? And then, it hit me…
When I started doing stand-up comedy 76 years ago, I went through the same thing. My first few sets were rocky and by few I mean lots and by rocky I mean bad. But I didn’t care. I was new. So I kept chugging along. Eventually I had a good set. WOW did it ever feel good. I started tweaking that set and it got better and better. I felt like I was finally getting the hang of stand-up. I had cracked the case! Well, imagine my surprise when those same jokes started to fall flat. The set I had been doing wasn’t popping like it used to. How? And why?!
Comedy, like running, is not a math equation. The results are always going to be different because of so many internal and external factors. We’re not joke machines or running machines. We’re humans who are all dealing with our own mental and physical bullshit while existed with millions of other bags of flesh trying to do the same damn thing. It’s exhausting!
What I’m trying to say is, cut yourself some slack. Realize that sometimes you need to get worse to get better. It might feel like you’re moving in reverse, especially at the beginning. Once you’ve achieved these milestones like your first great 5k or your first killer 5 minute set of course you’re going to feel good! Because it’s the first one! But now your standards have changed. You’re no longer an 18 year old doing her first open mic or 32 year old going for her first run with nothing to lose. You’ve had a taste of victory and want more. You’re someone to be taken seriously because you’re serious about your craft.
SO MUCH PRESSURE. Our need to improve is often what stops us from improving. We get so caught up with the “right” way to do things instead of allowing ourselves to play. PLAY! Have some fucking fun with it and don’t be so serious. I have to remind myself of this. And guess what? These shit weeks are when growth happens. I’ve been yapping about how crap my runs were but let’s look at the positives.
- I ended every run better than I started. Without cramps or without my pants falling down.
- I realized that if I aggressively lip sync to Celine Dion while running it’s going to fuck up my breathing but also, it was kinda fun.
- I did more yoga this week, went for more walks and was consistent with my physio exercises.
- I was able to escape for a bit. Running activates your right brain, the artistic, creative side. It was on my last “shitty” run that I started to think about the parallels between running and comedy thus birthing the theme of this post.
So what I initially thought was a bad week of running wasn’t so bad after all. No, I didn’t kill every set but that’s OK. Running, like comedy, is never easy. It might seem easier at times and that’s because you get more comfortable. However, as you demand more of yourself, you’re going to get uncomfortable. Sit with that. You get better. You grow. Your standards and expectations change and that’s a good thing. I have no idea what kind of runs I’ll have this week but I’m excited to find out! It’s my birthday on Saturday and I’m going to Ontario wine country so hopefully the title of my next blog post won’t be “I got smashed on red wine and ran through a vineyard”. Come to think of it, that’s not a bad idea…
Gotta go! I’ve got the runs!
RIP ALEX TREBEK
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