I still remember the first time I ran on a treadmill. It was only about two minutes or so but it was like I had been given a great gift. It was only two minutes but it was two minutes of pure pleasure. Even though I had 80 pounds to go in my weight loss journey it felt like I already reached my target. Over the next two years, I ran four marathons, quit smoking, formed new friendships. My whole life was open to me. All because of running. And then something happened. Running was slowly losing its appeal to me.
I didn't even notice it at first. I just remember being tired all the time. The miles were becoming harder and harder. While I still ran the same mileage it always seemed to take more effort. I thought it was a just a phase that all runners go through at one time. Maybe it was the stress of moving a new apartment. Living alone again for the first time since college. Or maybe it was the junk food or alcohol. So for over four months, I lived as cleanly as possible and nothing changed. My physicals always came back normal so maybe it was a mental issue. This went on for almost three years. About two weeks ago I went out on a run on a beautiful spring day and all I could manage was 3 miles. By the end, I had to slowly walk back to my car. It was at that time I thought I should maybe see counseling. It was three years of misery and I had enough. I remember thinking how this was all so stupid. There is nothing that major going in my life to warrant this. What was I doing before that I'm not doing now?
Just then I remembered how I used to have a great smoothie before each run. But the answer couldn't be that simple. I've been running on an empty stomach for over two years in a vain attempt to lose that last bit of weight. So the next day I tried it. Ate peanut butter and jelly sandwich a couple of hours before my run. When I got on the treadmill I was convinced it couldn't possibly work. It was only four miles but something was definitely different. The next day I had a cantaloupe and protein smoothie. Treadmill time just flew by. The day after I had my first runners high in years. A couple of days after I was in happy tears after my run. It was the first time I had felt normal in years. I had no idea the right food could have that much of a dramatic impact on my performance. It felt like I had been given a new lease on life.
Running has always been more than just a way to stay healthy. It was my stress reliever, my happy drug. And as the challenges in my life increased I didn't have that to fall back on anymore. My physical and mental health suffered accordingly. Now it's time to start healing again.
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