This past Wednesday, I was at a place I get to a time or two throughout a training cycle. I call it, The Void.
The Void: base level tiredness and a lack of emotion, able to complete basic tasks but not wiling to over-extend my abilities, may be accompanied by soreness or sickness but not enough to compromise training, often accompanied by either extra or lack of sleep
The Void is not a bad thing, at least in my experience. If you have read the book Once A Runner (which I lent to my friend at the moment but I would reference) the author explains this feeling in a very articulate way. He speaks about the fatigue to engage with life, the build up of mileage, and the subsequent yearning to just train and strip away most other things.
Quite honestly, that sounds ideal right now. Actually, I am coming out of the sickness I’ve had the past 5 days and am more engaged and passionate in my life outside of running, but I also wouldn’t say no to stripping away it all and just focusing on training.
Wednesday was an accumulation of a lingering head cold, bigger mileage this week and a lack of sleep due to said cold. The bags under my eyes were big enough for a European vacation and I just felt really disconnected. I wasn’t present at my job, all I could think about was my next training run and I was simply existing at work until I could go back to what I wanted to be doing.
Running still lights me up. I am happy I didn’t miss a day of training due to the head cold (ironically, I felt best while running) and once I got a few nights sleep, I feel like my old self again. I do not think I am out of The Void yet, and I might be here for a while, but at this point I have recovered enough to begin to care about other things again.
I know this mood might return, and because I felt so disconnected this time, I have decided to set myself up for success next time. What this means for me is making sure I have all the things I need so I do not have to go shopping, get groceries, do anything else that seems to take a lot of effort.
I bought a few of my staples in bulk and will continue to eat the past-sell-by date things and old bread from work. I have all my toiletries and things so I don’t need a last minute shampoo or run out of stuff. I order my books through the library and make sure I have them. It’s these small, simple things that can get overwhelming when you work a busy job like I do and also maintain healthy running.
It’s not that these tasks are hard, they’re not. They’re just annoying to think about “another thing I have to do” when I want my weekends to consist of nothing. I’d rather have nothing on the schedule for weekends except running and napping or reading at this point in training because it makes me happy.
There, I said it. Running and living my life this way makes me happy. I enjoy the simple pleasure of missing out. Even watching my friend’s beautiful trail running Instagrams or amazing recipes I could cook, I’m at a point in life where I don’t feel like I’m missing out. I know what I enjoy and I do it.
The Void will come and go based on my stress load, but I know what I need to do to give myself the best chance to succeed.
The mileage can come, and I’ll be ready, as ready as I can be.