When Life Gets in the Way + Always There!

Good morning!  Skye was suffering from a case of the Monday’s in the below picture.

Andrew has officially started his 12 hour shifts now and he even went running before his shift yesterday.  He really wants to find a way to keep up with his training while doing 3 12s a week… anyone reading have any tips for that?

I took yesterday off from running and might take another day or two off!

I’ve done a lot of back to back races (50 miler, marathon, half-marathon, 5k all within 7 weeks) + I have a lot of races up ahead and decided that my tight hamstrings and body just need a minute to breathe before starting up again!

My workout yesterday was chasing this little girl around:

IMG 5286

Regular visits to see Dr. Bennet (801-513-1078 for you Utah runners) are part of my plan to keep my body healthy and happy with all of the training.

Adjustment + muscle reactivation + thanks mom for keeping Skye away from the stairs at his office during my appointment:).   I have a very good feeling about 2019 and running!

IMG 5285

We are going crazy over how good the berries are lately.  It’s only a matter of time before we start buying a watermelon every 5 days at Costco.

IMG 5293

After school Brooke had cross-country and asked to dump my ice water on her head because it was so hot.  She is learning from my marathons to dump as much water as possible on yourself to stay nice and cool.

IMG 5317

Skye and Beretta played fetch for ten minutes straight last night.  Beretta brought the ball right back to Skye every time and dropped it at her feet.

IMG 5322

For dinner I decided to try out the TJ’s carnitas!

IMG 5332

I made super simple salads along with chips and salsa on the side.  It’s a win if I don’t have to cook the meat so we will probably buy this again.

IMG 5336

We finished off the night with some yoga.

IMG 5339

Andrew got home, ate dinner, showered and then we started The Office again for the 100th time.. A show that I never get sick of.

IMG 5340

Two last random things to talk about…

*Brooke made me this bowl for Mother’s Day with my mom at Color Me Mine.  It is the only bowl I am ever going to use again at home.  A lot of cereal will be consumed out of this bowl.

IMG 5274

*Skye suddenly has a million teeth.

IMG 5178

——————————————————————————————————–

The other day a reader left a comment about how frustrated she is with running right now.  She has a lot of life stress going on and it is causing her to slow down and the effort to feel harder and harder each day.  “I really think the amounts of stress in all the other facets of my life are really taking a toll…. I want to work hard and get some good workouts in, but physically, my body just isn’t on the same page.”  When I read that my heart sunk a little because I can completely understand how hard and frustrating that is so I thought I would share my experience with this.

Life stress absolutely 100% effects our running, you are not alone if you are experiencing this right now.

Life stress has caused me to drop out of two marathons (and many other race distances too) that I had been dreaming about and working so hard to do.

CIM 2013—> I had filed for divorce in August of that year and the stress of being a single mom and trying to do everything in my divorce the right way felt like I was wearing a 50 lb backpack on every run in October/November that year.  I was working with a coach at that point and was on track to have a killer race in December but no matter how fit my lungs/heart/legs were, life stress just took it all out of me and I decided to drop out of the race.  I had no drive to do the workouts any more and it’s really hard to run fast and cry at the same time.  I felt like a total failure for a little while because I wasn’t following through on something that I had committed to do but realized that all of the stress that I had going on was kind of like an injury.  I wasn’t going to run a race on an injury so why would I expect my body to perform well when the stress was hurting me big time too.

St. George 2015—>  My mom had had a stroke, I was in a terrible relationship, single mom stress = my body revolted by having major GI problems and I added another DNS to my list.  The stress was just too much and I couldn’t do the race physically or mentally.  At this point my paces that were once ‘easy’ felt like my tempo paces and the idea of running more than from my couch to my bed made me want to cry.  The stress was just too much.

Sometimes with life stress running does help us immensely but sometimes with crazy life stress it can just add to the stress which leaves us more frustrated and exhausted.

IMG 8068

My tips for if your stress levels are just way too high during your training:

*Drop out of the race you are training for.  There are a million different races out there.  There is no loss to dropping out (I guess if you are a pro runner then there are sponsorship problems you run into but for the rest of us, there is no loss).  During my divorce I needed running daily to help deal with the things I was going through BUT I did not need the stress of a race or a time on my plate so I said goodbye to the $103 (or however much I spent on it ha) and took that load off my back.

*Run without a watch.  If you want to keep running through life stress but the fact you are slowing down makes you sad= hide your watch for a while until you are feeling better and things are getting resolved in your world.  Don’t let those paces make you feel worse.  Give yourself the proper TLC you need right now and realize that life stress DOES cause us to slow down sometimes.  You probably aren’t sleeping very well right now if this is what you are going through and that also takes us down a notch with our training!  Maybe your appetite is affected when you are stressed which also doesn’t help matters… especially your training.

*Like I always say, running will ALWAYS be there for you when you are ready for it.  It isn’t going anywhere.  So if you need a break from it until your divorce finalizes or you are settled into your new job or your parents health gets better… then do it.  It is going to be ready for you when you are ready to be excited for your runs again.  There is zero point forcing yourself to do it if you don’t want to.  Come back to running when it adds joy to your life and take a break from it when it is making you even more frustrated and stressed than you already are.

*If taking a break from running is killing you then take a break from social media too and maybe that will help.  If seeing everyone on instagram is hard for you when they are rocking their workouts and you just want to run for fun or not run at all… then say goodbye for a bit.  No one will be offended, everyone will just be happy that you are taking care of YOU and doing what you need to do to get through a hard time.  Just because a person’s running is going amazing right now doesn’t mean that they haven’t experienced similar things to you in the past but it is hard to see that on social media.  Take a step back if you need to!

*You are not alone.  You are not weak.  You are not failing.  Life stress takes a toll on every human out there and the sooner you are able to take care of yourself and get it fixed, the sooner you will be back running like normal… I think forcing ourselves to push through it without going easy on ourselves is only going to cause the problem to go on for longer!

*Talk to other runners about it and I’m sure they will share their experiences with this and it can help you realize you aren’t alone.

*Talk to yourself about this problem like you would talk to your best friend.  If your best friend came to you and told you all of the hard things they were dealing with and then told you they were frustrated with themselves for not rocking their workouts…  You would hug them, cry with them and tell them to give them self some grace.  Do the same for you.

Good luck and I’m always here if you need someone to talk to!  Take care of yourself and take it a mile/day at a time!

——————————————————————————————————–

Has life stress ever caused you to stop running? To drop out of a race?  Did you decide to take a break or just run for fun?  Give me the details so people realize they aren’t alone!

What is your next race?  I would love to hear about it!

Those of you that work 12 hour shifts how do you keep up with your training?  Focus on your days off or get in a run before or after your shift?

How often do you take a complete rest day from running and cross-training?

You May Also Like

73 comments

Reply

Life stress didn’t stop me from running, but I definitely felt it last year. We were dealing with some financial issues—house paid off, yet bank said there was a lien on it from an old mortgage company and we had to go to hell and back and hire a lawyer to get the lien removed—it’s totally a REAL THING. It’s funny because THE DAY that the lien was removed was THE DAY of my marathon last fall. So, I was racing a little lighter that day, but the weight of the situation was felt during training.

My next race?! I’m not sure! I’m kind of like you right now–spring season is over, and I’m enjoying lighter running, letting niggles heal and rest, and getting strong in other ways like with more strength and yoga. I’m debating my fall marathon–Erie, Richmond again, or Indy!

I don’t take a COMPLETE rest day very often. Usually I go to yoga on off days from running. I am definitely not against complete rest days though :) :) :)

THIRTEEN MORE DAYS OF SCHOOL!!!!!!!! WOOT WOOT WOOT WOOT! lol I’m getting there!!!!!

Reply

Oh Jen, that must have been incredibly stressful. I am so so sorry. I am so glad that on race day the loads were lifted! Oh do the Indy marathon… after doing the half there I’m convinced that is the fastest course ever. YOU ARE SO CLOSE!!!

Reply

I’m definitely in the life stress taking a toll on my running boat! What’s helping me is just running for time not miles. Keeping a scripture in hand ( literally,like copied out) helps keep my focus off my frustration. Also I like to think that each mile/minute/ workout is like a dollar in the bank. Even the ratty old taped up ones still spend. 🌞

Reply

THESE. TIPS. ARE. PERFECT. Absolutely perfect. I am so sorry that you are dealing with so much. You are handling it so well and please let me know how you are doing as you are going through all of this. You are in my prayers!

Reply

AMAZING advice!!!!!!

Reply

Thank you Melissa. I hope you have a wonderful day!

Reply

Janae – you’re always so encouraging and hopeful! I am recovering from a sciatica flare up just now so no running for me for a time. I think it may be somewhat stress induced/related. Skye’s teeth are too cute, Andrew is really working hard and doing well :) have a great day!

Reply

Chris, I am so sorry that you had that flare up and I 100% think that crazy stress contributes to our injuries (our minds and bodies are so connected). Good luck and enjoy that me time! Thinking about you!

Reply

I’m so glad you wrote about this, because I think it’s such an important topic. Mental fatigue can affect running just as much as physical injury, but sometimes we try to push way too hard past it . . . which just makes it worse. I’ve not had to take extended time off from running because of stress, but there have been weeks where I just haven’t run because I’ve known it would cause stress instead of relieving it. I try to go for walks (I love walking), or do a short strength-training workout–I find that much less stressful mentally than running can be when I’m in that time of life. I think giving myself these breaks has allowed me to return to running faster.

My next race is a 10k in the fall! I’ve not actually raced that distance before, even though I’ve run training for longer races . . . I’m excited but not totally sure of what to expect out of myself!

Reply

Yes exactly, we forget that mental fatigue needs the TLC that we would give to an injury! I love what you said about giving yourself those breaks helping you to return to running faster again!

AHHH I am so excited for you. I totally understand, those shorter distances are a different world but you are going to rock it! Have a beautiful day Kristin!

Reply

I am on a break from running now – sort of. Each morning I either have meetings or am going door to door campaigning, and ditto in the evenings. All my spare minutes are trying to figure out how to use all the greens from my 2 CSAs, and logging all my door to door progress into my spreadsheet. If there is a random day off I will go on a run, but I don’t want to get up early and squeeze it in because I am already getting 20K steps on only about 6 hours of sleep – August 1 get here soon!

My brother in law does the night shift as an emergency room nurse. He tries to work his three twelves in a row when possible, and often picks up a fourth or fifth to cover for someone on vacation. He gets home at 7:30 a.m., sleeps till around 2 or 3, then goes in a ride or a run, then hangs out a bit and makes his “lunch” before heading back to work at 6:30 p.m.

Reply

You have SO much going on Tonya and I am so excited for what happens with the election. I am cheering for you big time. Thank you so much for sharing what your brother-in-law does. I’m not sure how we are going to handle when Andrew is asked to do night shifts in the future. I hope you have a wonderful day Tonya!

Reply

Ha! We, too, are eating all the Costco berries. My co-worker was like, “How can you possibly eat all those berries before they go bad?” And I was like, “You’re such a lightweight.” :)

I appreciate your candid examples of how you had to adjust your expectations based on your stress levels/life situation at the time. Real-life examples (i.e. – personal narratives) are easier for me to recall, so your experiences encourage me now and are more likely to stick with me and encourage me again in the future. :) Thanks.

Reply

Haha that is even a question? Ours are gone after two days!
Oh thank you Marilyn! I hope you have a wonderful day and please keep in touch!

Reply

Hi Janae,
I really enjoyed this post!
First, stress, mental health and running are such important topics to talk openly about! I really like the advice that you gave. Running has gotten me through some incredibly stressful times ( marriage issues, toxic work situations, overextending myself). I had to have someone tell me to be kind to myself, realize what running is doing to serve me at that moment. Running takes on different roles in our lives that shift often; therapy, hobby, goal, social outlet.

Second, if I am on a training plan I try to shift my shorter run days to my longer work days and get it done before my shift starts. It is so satisfying to complete and shift and know your training is done as well.

11 mile trail race this weekend and my first relay June 8th! Playing with the idea of going for marathon #2 this fall to mark my 40th birthday!
Have a great one!

Reply

Thank you so much Jenny! Oh I love what you said about running taking on different roles in our lives… so so true. You are rocking your training with your work right night… amazing. AHHH good luck this weekend and your relay is so soon. I love the idea of going for marathon #2 to celebrate your 40th wahoo. You too!

Reply

When I work 12 hour shifts, I do my shorter runs for the first 2 days before work (too exhausted by the end) and use the third day as a day off. It is a lot to fit in a run into an already loooong day but it makes me feel like I got to do something for myself when I spend the rest of the day taking care of others

Reply

Oh I love this plan… this sounds perfect for Andrew. Thank you for doing what you do Kiersten and taking care of so many people. I hope you have a beautiful day!

Reply

I really needed to see this right now. I recently missed a race (one of my favorites) because my dog had a medical emergency the morning of the race. On top of worrying about my dog, I felt guilty for feeling sad about missing my race and for “wasting” the $50 race fee. I have a few trail races on my radar for the next few months, but haven’t registered for anything. My dog is 16 and she’s having more and more bad days. I would rather wait until the last minute to sign up for a race right now than pay the fee and worry I will have to skip it because she’s bad that day. I miss racing (and having definite race plans on my schedule), but I know that racing will be there long after I have said goodbye to my dog.

Reply

Alma, thank you for sharing your experience and I am truly so so sorry about what you have been going through with your dog. I think you made the right choice… big time. You are so right, racing will be there when you need it in the future and right now you are doing your best to take care of your sweet dog. Thinking about you and please keep me updated with how you are doing.

Reply

Thank you so much for this post today. I couldn’t identify why I have been struggling in my training so much lately. Putting it all together this morning and no longer feeling alone. I’m going to try some of your tips to finish out this school year ( I’m a teacher with a really tough year this year) and then get back on the training track.

Reply

You are definitely NOT alone Tracie. Yes yes yes… give yourself some grace and get through this incredibly difficult school year and when you are ready, running will be too. Thinking about you!

Reply

You’re absolutely not alone! I wish I had this post back in February or March when I was in a huge running slump. I made it through to the other side and I know you’ll be back to your old running self before you know it :) Hopefully your school year ends soon too so you can recharge a little over the summer!

Reply

I have seen a lot of discussions on this forum: https://forum.slowtwitch.com/forum/Slowtwitch_Forums_C1/Triathlon_Forum_F1/
about non traditional work schedules and training. Never really read them, and it’s a triathlon forum, but there might be some good ideas there if you use the search box on the right-hand side.

Totally agree with your advice about not letting races stress you out so much that you break – I had a bad time of things a couple of years ago (nothing awful but I did wind up pulling out of a race with a panic attack) and I spent a few weeks just doing what I felt like doing. Sometimes I biked easy, sometimes I ran kind of fast, sometimes I went to group swims, whatever. I did find that doing some kind of training first thing in the morning, even if it was just a 30 min easy run, was critical to keeping my days stable and sane. In the end, I didn’t even backtrack much on fitness, but if I hadn’t taken the pressure off for race-training, it would have been bad news down the road.

Reply

Oh I will check out that forum Victoria, thank you so much! Oh Victoria, I didn’t know you had a panic attack during a race! I think you did the right thing for you as you got through the situation. Thank you so much for sharing. I hope you have a wonderful day!

Reply

This was such a great post, Janae! I don’t think you hear very much in the running world about how much life stress can affect running performance and motivation, and your tips for dealing with it are so great. I had plans to run my second marathon this year (that race is literally this coming weekend), but between lots of crazy winter weather, lots of work stress, and dealing with depression in the first few months of 2019, I just didn’t have it in me and I dropped back to the half marathon – and for awhile I wasn’t even sure if that was going to happen. I threw any training plans out the window, focused on just getting out for a run when I could, and spent time on other hobbies that relieved stress and brought me joy. Eventually once the weather improved and work stress eased a bit, my running mojo started to come back (slowly but surely!).

Running has been an outlet for me at other stressful times in my life, but early this year I think I just needed a little break from heavy training. I’m running that half marathon this weekend (it will be my 10th half too!), and I have zero regrets that I’m not doing the full, because I know backing off of training was the right call. I’m just grateful that I’m finally excited about more fun running times ahead! I don’t have any other races scheduled other than this weekend – my desire to run that second marathon is still haunting me, but this might be my year to just enjoy running some shorter distances and have fun.

Reply

Noelle, I am so so sorry that you were struggling with depression at the beginning of this year. You made the right choice, that is for sure. I am so glad you did what you needed to do to take care of yourself, thank you for sharing. Please let me know how this weekend goes… I’m cheering for you big time! Have a wonderful day!

Reply

It’s not stress that keeps me from running, but anxiety! I only get anxiety when big relationship conversations are about to happen. I’m so anxious that I physically cannot run a lot, but I could easily go and do weights and be fine. I think it’s the fact that running requires you to breathe strong, and the anxiety just weakens that ability. So when those mornings happen, I just stick to a workout that doesn’t put added (breathing) stress on me, but I can still get a sweat in and feel good. Or I honestly will just stop running and walk for the remainder of the workout.

Reply

Thank you for bringing anxiety up! So so so true. You handle it so well Allie and thank you for sharing your experience. You are amazing!

Reply

Oh goodness, she is not alone. A few years ago something came up in my life that I hadn’t seen coming at all. Maybe in hindsight, but at the time I felt like I’d been hit by a truck. There had been a Runner’s world running streak that went from Memorial Day to Fourth of July and I was a few weeks into it. So when I got this news and didn’t know what to do, I remembered I hadn’t run yet and went for a run. I spent every day after that starting my morning by strapping my son into the stroller with his breakfast and running for an hour or so. I started to go to al-anon meetings after that and one of the things they say is, “do the next right thing.” Like when you are so overwhelmed and everything feels like it needs addressed, you can’t solve all of the problems on your mind so just do the one thing in front of you like make the bed or get your kid his breakfast- or go for a run. I had so much anxiety, fear, sadness, that if I didn’t start the day by physically tiring myself out, I was almost paralyzed by my thoughts. I didn’t have any goals, kept running for almost a year on that streak and I’m 100% certain that it helped me get through that time. Conversely, after I had my daughter the same problem emerged and that time running felt so overwhelming that I was dreading it. Dreading it. And I couldn’t understand because it had always helped me in the past to feel more like myself. But I just hated it all of a sudden so I stopped. I knew getting some movement was important so I would force myself to do something most days, but not running. I started again a few months later and worked back into it.

I think every person and situation is different and there’s a balance to be found between doing what we know is good for us during the hard times, like getting fresh air and exercise, and forcing ourselves to be even more miserable by doing something we used to love that now brings us no joy. Why associate something you love with a horrible time in your life? I agree with what you said that running will always be there for us when we are ready to come back to it. Those hard seasons are overwhelming but telling yourself that it won’t last forever (because it won’t) and just getting through it one day at a time however you need to is the right thing. It always feels so lonely when things are hard. But there are always lots of people all over that are in the middle of their own struggle AND there are just as many (more!) that are on the other side. I sure hope she finds someone to talk with. The loneliness with life stress was always the worst for me. Good luck to you if you see this!! I hope you feel some peace soon :)

Reply

Jenny, I am so thrilled that streak was exactly what you needed to get through those huge life challenges. And then after you had your daughter, I am so glad you listened to what you needed and took the break. It’s amazing how stress can hit us in different ways and how different things can help. Thank you for sharing your experiences and your encouragement for others. I hope you have a beautiful day today!

Reply

Hi Jenny, I was scanning these comments hoping someone would say something about addiction. Thank you so much for sharing. At first, running was my outlet and escape from dealing with the anxiety of the addict in my life and I had a killer training cycle but then it caught up with me by the next cycle and I kept getting sick and my race was a mess. I like that you said running was different for you in each challenging situation you faced because that’s how I felt from one season to the next. I also find comfort in the slogan about doing the next right thing. Gives such focus and guidance. And I have also told myself to “keep showing up” even if it’s just a slow jog because I know it’s good for me, mentally, and this season won’t last forever. I love running and want to let it be there for me and not force performance.

Reply

I know it’s more common and I probably know more people also in this situation than I would ever guess, but it still feels like something that I cannot talk about (I had a little anxiety submitting my comment) with almost everyone. I feel really alone a lot and just want to feel like myself and a part of that was running which made it hard to lose that for a time. Right now I’m not running because of an injury (hoping to try again in the next few days and ease back into it) and it’s so clear to me how it impacts my mood. I do other stuff but something about just being outside and going wherever I feel like and sprinting up and down some hills is what I miss. I’ll be thinking of you. Take care :)

Reply

I’m a nurse and work 3 12s as well. I try to run before work at at least one of the days. It’s hard sometimes to find the motivation to get up at 4 am for a treadmill run before work but it’s a great feeling when it’s done and you don’t have to worry about it the rest of the day becaue I am way too tired to run after work. I think having that time to take care of myself makes me a better nurse. However, it makes it really hard for my eyes to stay open much past 8:30 in the evenings :)

Reply

Such a great post Janae!! It’s so important to take care of ourselves, mentally as well as physically! We all need to be kind to ourselves and give ourselves some grace.
I’m sort of on a running break now. No races on the calendar, so I am running how I feel, doing lots of cross training, and mixing things up a bit. I really think it’s helping me! Physically and mentally! And, it has reminded me that I really like to be out running 😊
Thank you for great advice!

Reply

Running through life stress is what got me through my divorce. I ran through anger, and my workouts took my mind off the sad parts. During my runs, I was able to let go, let God, and just run. You’re so right…it’s impossible to run and cry at the same time. Yet It was so therapeutic for me.
I work 12’s and I love to get a workout in before my shift. It helps me mentally prep for whatever the day may bring. While I was working years of night shift, I loved getting up and running before going to work at 6:45pm. Since being on day shift, it is definitely a challenge to get out of bed to run before work, but I love the peaceful mornings and running while the sun is coming up. I do know that if I run before work in the morning, those are my easy miles. My body isn’t as warmed up, my mind is still waking up, and I don’t always have the time for a lot of miles. On the other hand, after some shifts as an ER nurse, I need to run after a rough shift. I run better in the evening, and I’m usually well fueled and motivated to move. Someone mentioned earlier, as nurses we need to take care of ourselves to be better nurses.

Reply

At some point in our running careers we have used running for stress-relief, energy, clarity etc. So when life gets stressful it naturally happens that we turned to something that has helped in the past. However, I have learned that every stressful situation has to be approached independently. Sometimes running all the miles was my saving grace, and other times it was the worst idea ever……..(lesson learned from forcing the junk miles only to create more mental and physical fatigue)
Listen to your body, don’t judge, trust it will get you right back out there when the time is right.

Reply

Thanks for sharing! In 2015 I took almost a whole year off from racing. I had done one race and decided I was so mentally burned out I didn’t want to race. I was in a then new relationship with my now partner and I just wanted to be able to spend time doing stuff like camping adventuring sleeping in like a normal human haha. Eventually my desire to run and race did come back. It definitely comes in ebbs and flows and I am ok with that. Running will always be part of my life.

Have a great day Janae!

Reply

How impressive that Skye kept at it for 10 minutes with Beretta–that’s quite a bit of time for a toddler to stay into the same task :)
That bowl–awesome!!!
Life stress has definitely caused me to take a break from running/training goals periodically. There were times that my family role was just so consuming that “having” to run certain distances or paces or frequency added to the stress. If I did get out to run, it was just sort of stream-of-consciousness running to be away from everything and think through stuff. Tears happened. I tried yoga during one break from running, though I would often start to feel emotional and anxious during savasana at the end, holding back tears. It could be very helpful for others, depending on how they respond to yoga, and I’m OK with it now ;) During another running break, I would run with my daughter’s Girls on the Run group, which was usually just listening to them during their self-esteem/confidence lesson, then encouraging them to keep a steady pace and keep going during the running portion. This is long already, but someone I follow on IG started a “more than nothing” theme–even if you can’t devote the time, energy, motivation, etc., to specific training, just move your body and do more than nothing.
I love all your advice about getting through the tough times. Although they feel overwhelming, those times really don’t last forever, and there will be other, better, more joyful times.

Reply

I love this post so, so much. I had that stress/burnout last year before my awful Boston and I cut out social media. I didn’t get back on for over a year. It helped me a ton to cut out the noise and comparison and just get back to my ‘why.’ I learned to live running again and, as a bonus, started crushing my PRs!! I don’t do social media running like I used to, I learned that I need to keep that more to myself.
You are such a good influence in this crazy social media world, I’m so grateful you opening talk about when it’s ok to step back. After all, this is supposed to be fun!
Any plans to try and do CIM again ever? It’s my goal race this year. 😬😊

Reply

I really needed this post today — my work situation is so emotionally draining and physically exhausting that I simply do not have the energy to go on even short runs. I’ve felt like a complete failure because of it for a while now. Maybe I’ll try to just let myself cope with the rest of my life and get that in order with a good conscience instead of trying to force my body to do something it can’t do right now.

Reply

I So needed this post. It’s like you read my mind! Marital and financial issues have made a huge impact in my running workouts. I’ve decided to use my first marathon in September as a way to prove to myself that I can do hard things! I have to tell myself that every time I walk out the door to run. My sister and I are training together and that has been a huge motivator to keep with it. Thank you for your daily blog and tips/tricks. You’re an amazing mama and human.

Reply

Hi Janae! Sorry I haven’t said hi in awhile.. I’ve had a lot of life stress as well. I am following your advice of not timing my runs. Something else that’s helping me is going to group classes. Sometimes with stress we isolate ourselves (at least I do) and having the group there really lifts my spirits.
When is your next race?

Reply

What a fantastic post, Janae! Thank you!! None of us are alone in this, though it can certainly feel that way.

I have had life stressors (parent health issues) that have affected my training to the extent I down-graded and ultimately DNS a couple of big races. On the other hand, when an unexpected breakup happened, running is what got me through. I did two a day runs (never had before) and ran some of my fastest times, even winning my age group twice. That same period inspired me to train for and run my first marathon (2nd in my age group for that one) and it was probably the best thing I could have done for myself then (I’m not sure I recognized it at the time, though).

You are absolutely right that running will be there, in the way that you need it to be, when you need it to be! Thanks again for the tips as multiple life stressors have knocked me off course (pun intended) with my training and I’m working to get it back. Cheers!

Reply

I am a Emergency nurse and work three 12 hour shifts as well. Throughout my career my exercise pattern has varied but I’m happiest and fittest when I work out regularly prior to work. Right now my routine is to get up at 3:50 and most days head to the garage where I have workout area set up. Depending on my fitness goals my early morning workouts change. Right now I’m focused on improving my overall body fitness so I use work days to help achieve that. Once a week I do a CrossFit type WOD with strength reps after a short 8 minute treadmill warmup and follow it with core work. One other day I try to do a circuit routine with a little more cardio. The third day I either head to the gym for a swim, spin on my bike on the trainer, or run on the treadmill. I probably stick to about 80-90% working out before work. If I stay up later to hang out with family or friends, I forego with workout. I find I always feel amazing working after exercise despite getting up at such a gross hour.

Working out after work for me is never an option because I’m always tired and STARVING. The biggest piece of advice I can give Andrew is to be flexible. An odd work schedule is not typical and it won’t fit with what any groups or any training plans are doing. It can be frustrating with a big goal like a marathon at times especially if 4 or more days get strung together. So learn to roll with it and you’ll love it.

Reply

This is super great advice! When your body is slowing down or whatever, it is often its way of telling you to be easy on yourself!

Injury has plagued me this year :( I had a stress fracture in July, torn tendons in Feb, and now I’m dealing with more torn tendons and possible chronic instability. However, I have to look at it like now is the perfect time to work on strength training and cycling.

Reply

When I work 12-13 hour shifts, I pack clothes to run from the hospital or somewhere nearby without going home first. If I go home, it could be another hour before I get out the door (if I make it at all)! It’s hard to convince myself to do it after long shifts, but it usually ends up being a good way to decompress. Just don’t forget to pack a pre-run snack because dinner ends up being a bit later!
The morning is also great, but I know that is hard when shifts start at 5 or 6 AM!

Reply

The picture of Skye playing fetch with Beretta is adorable!

As one of your older readers, I can tell you that peri-menopause has been the worst thing to happen to my running! Hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, and roller coaster emotions have all added up to a ton of stress and awful running. There have been days when I felt like I was running through quick sand. It’s been several years since I’ve done any races because I can’t seem to get a long enough string of quality training in. But I won’t give up completely. I had my annual physical this month and my health is great. My primary care doctor retired and his son took over. It was pretty awesome when he reviewed my bone density scan from last year and he said, “You have the bones of a teenager!” Thank you, running, for that! Slow motion is still motion. I’ve also added cycling and yoga to the mix and I think that has helped a lot. Cycling fills my need for speed and yoga just feels good!

I usually take at least one day a week off from training – typically Monday. On days when running feels awful I just downgrade to a walk and consider it active recovery.

Reply

Nurse schedules can be tough on training! I think it depends what shift he is on (day vs. night) and how he groups them (3 in a row, 2 and 1, etc). I only work once a week these days, but when I was full time I would go straight from work to the gym/running after day shifts. On night shifts, I would workout the first day in the morning, then take a nap before work. The following night shift days, if I had the energy, I would workout when I got up that day (I always grouped my shifts). I give myself some definite leeway on post night shift days though-night shift sucks all your energy out. Then I focus on it more on my days off. He will get in his groove-I’m sure his shifts are all over the place during orientation and training. It will get easier once he is on his own schedule.

Reply

Great advice on the life stress and running! I have “suffered” from that at various times and it can be so hard. But, I want to run forever, so I try and keep that perspective. I am a full time working (single parent) mom so running, is obviously not my full time job (even though it sometimes has that appeal, ha!). I hope your reader will be able to heed your advice, take a step back, breath, and give themself the TLC the mind and body needs!

Reply

Awesome post Janae!! I especially liked when you said, “talk to yourself like you would talk to your best friend”.
We are so much harder on ourselves than we would be with family or friends.

Reply

Those berries look amazing! One way I’m getting my berry fix is by mixing them up with chia seeds to make a jam and adding it to oatmeal…. sooooo good!!!!
Stress hasn’t stopped me from running but pregnancy has so it was pretty easy to listen to Dr’s orders for the health and safety of the babe.
I am experiencing some lack of joy in the thought of racing right now so I’m just not racing. It is hard when my friends ask me to join them in a race, but in then end I have to do what’s best for me and right now that is cheering them on from the sidelines either in person or via social media or joining them on a training run. I’m finding more pleasure running for fun and creating my workouts week by week and sometimes day by day. I feel like I need the endorphins, to remain stress free/help me handle stress so I make sure to set aside time at least 5x/week for me to get my fix.
I don’t work 12 hrs shifts but I do work out of the home so I get my workout in before work so I can focus on the kiddos when I get home. It was hard at first but laying out clothes, nutrition etc the night before and not hitting snooze help me stay on track.
Lately I’ve been taking complete rest days 1-2 days/week on the weekend when everyone is home. Any more than that I get stiff and achy and any less than that I get worn down.
Have a great day!

Reply

15000% agree with you here! I am currently in the middle of a self-determined 3 month break from running. I tried to use running to help with a deeply stressful situation over the past few years, but it left my body feeling wrecked, and then I was mad at myself for not making progress. I finally acknowledged that running wasn’t helping me, and that I was hurting myself physically by trying to force it to.

Once I gave myself permission to take a break, I was surprised by how relieved I was – body, mind, and spirit. Yes, when I start again in July (the BEST month to start running 😉) I will have lost a lot of fitness, but I’m hopeful it will be much more fun.

Reply

When I was working shifts I would make sure to get in my workouts before work, otherwise I would be too tired when I was done work for the day.

I love your tips for running while going through tough stuff. So much of it can also apply to other workouts too. Sometimes workouts were just another thing on my to do list that were stressing me out, and other times I was so grateful for having a way to deal with stress. I think it really depends on the person and the situation.

Reply

I had been strugggling with running. I trained harder than I ever had in 2017 for the NYC marathon and after that I think I was burned out. I struggled to find my place with running in 2018. With that came weight gain and loss of confidence in my athletic ability. This year after I decided enough was enough I decided to take a huge step back from running. I was supposed to run the Berlin and MCM this year and decided not to. I started working with a personal trainer and lifting weights 4 times and week and I have never been happier. I currently have no training plan or a race on my schedule and it is a beautiful thing and it has saved my sanity. I’ve realized that not running as much right now doesn’t mean that I’m not a runner; I just found a new outlet to stay active and healthy.

Reply

Thanks for this post. My husband passed away suddenly last Fall at 38 years old. We have 2 young sons, 7 and 10 years old. This year has been terrible. I am still running but nothing like I used to. I only run about 3 days a week and slow but it still feels good to get out there. But, I do miss racing, running with friends etc. I hope that one day I will have the flexibility and desire to run like I used to. But, either way, this post was timely and needed today.
Congrats on all of your great races this Spring!

Reply

Oh my goodness Jess. I am so incredibly sorry. I am crying for you. I’m always here if you need someone to email with (or if you live in Utah then I would love to come visit you). Praying for you and your two sweet sons.

Reply

Thanks, Janae.

Reply

I work 12 hours shifts as a nurse! I usually focus more on my days I’m not working to get the longer/harder miles in, and try to run super easy before/after only 1 of my 3 shifts during the week! This still allowed for 5 out of 7 days of running and allows time to cross train or take the other work days off! Hope this help! (:

Reply

I can totally relate to the life-stress + running = rough. When I had my son and couldn’t run for months, getting back to running was one of my biggest desires…but between total lack of sleep and lingering back problems it was rough. You are totally right though, running waited for me and was there when I was ready and able to get back to it. Sometimes I deliberately don’t pick a race to train for and just focus on running whatever feels good and try to focus on that as my “me” time.

Reply

Exercising with 12 hour shifts is soooo tough!! I usually would not exercise on those days and just focus on getting in activity on my days off. You walk and move so much as a nurse anyways that I would count that as my activity!! Once or twice if I was able to have a good nap overnight I ran in the morning before going to sleep for the day but that was rare!! Right now I aim to work out 3 days a week so I take 4 complete rest days a week. I am a super lazy person at heart and even though I’ve been in my current exercise routine for almost 1.5 years it still feels like a burden to me… what can I say, my natural instinct is to be a couch potato!! Lol

Reply

I needed this post today! I was berating myself to my husband this morning saying “I guess I just don’t work out anymore” because it’s been about a week since my last run. I suffered my second miscarriage on April 18th (my first loss was in January), and I think all of the stress of trying so hard to start our family caught up to me. I’m cleared to exercise and I know it would be good for me, but as you mentioned the idea of running right now makes me more tired than an actual workout used to! Running used to be the way I handled stress but I think this is a new level of hard for me right now. I know I’ll get back out there (maybe tomorrow!) but I needed this post today to understand it’s okay to just take it easy. Running will be there when I’m ready.

Also, my friend gave me a card that said, You can do hard things and that’s been my running motto thanks to you for so long, and I just felt it was such a great sign from God that all will be well. Thanks again!

Reply

Oh Kate. My heart is absolutely broken for you. I am so so sorry about what you have gone through this year. I am praying for you and will you please keep me updated with how you are doing. You can do hard things. I just want to give you a big hug.

Reply

what a good post!! thank you!

Reply

When my husband was going through chemo I ran to ease stress but didn’t train for a race. I ran when I could at whatever pace felt good. I didn’t time it, I didn’t set specific miles, I just wanted to clear my head and feel better for a little bit. It helped a lot to not have to hit a specific goal or workout.

I take 1 complete rest day. I stretch or walk a little but nothing that would be considered a workout.

Reply

Nina, thank you so much for sharing. I really appreciate you. You and your husband are amazing!

Reply

I TOTALLY agree that life stress can affect your running. I am a Real Estate lawyer and my work life is very stressful. Some days I get home and literally can’t get off the couch. I get so frustrated at myself for not being as good as those people who bash out their training and never seem to miss a session so I am so glad you’ve spoken about this topic.

I find it really hard to try and explain this to my coach and running friends and worry they will think I am just lazy. I am training for a 10k at the moment and the paces I found easy last year seem so out of reach right now. Tell me it gets easier?!

Reply

I am an RN and work 12 hour shifts. On days that I work, I find it very challenging when I am training for a specific race/distance to balance training with work and family. When you’re already gone for 14 hours, you don’t really want to be away from your family any longer! Plus, you have to fit in eating, sleeping, and showering between shifts. You really need to have an understanding family who supports your goals, because it is truly a sacrifice that the entire family makes. When I’m not training for anything in particular, I simply don’t run on days that I work because it’s just too hard to fit in. During training, I find that the only thing I am able to consistently fit in on work days is a quick 30-minute workout. I do either a short, easy recovery run; or a quick tempo run; or a strength session. When I work AM shift (7a-7:30p) I get up and work out BEFORE my shift — yes, this is very early but that way I work out while my family sleeps rather than missing their last awake hour before bedtime when I get off. When I work PM shift (7p-7:30a) I work out AFTER my shift, before showering and going to bed. The family is already gone to work and school when I get home in the mornings, and I get to see them in the evening before I leave for work. Good luck to Andrew and congrats on the new job! When I was a new RN someone told me it would take me an entire year before I felt like I actually knew what I was doing, and I found that to be true — tell him to take it easy on himself, he has a lifetime of learning ahead of him and a few errors in judgement are inevitable.

Reply

Do you follow nurserunner on Instagram. Both her and her husband work long shifts at a hospital and I am always amazed she fits in her runs. Her kids are older then yours

Reply

I just left working 5p-5a (but not as a nurse). I usually tried to get in a short run before work and then on my off days I would run longer. It was a struggle for me because I live(d) in Florida so Im running in the heat and I prefer running at the end of the day (but I hate running in the dark). But in the winter, the runs before work were awesome!
But if Andrew only works 3/ week, he could use work days as weight training days and four days for running.

Reply

You are such a kind, lovely and supportive woman. You really made me feel good as I am going through a hard time. Your post was very timely for me. Thank you.

Reply

I hope you are doing okay Fiona! I’m always here if you need to talk! You can do hard things!

Reply

I used to work 4, 12s. I tried to work out 5 days a week so I would get up early before work every other day and then make the other two days my rest days. Then on my days off I could do long runs. If I didn’t do it before I left for work though it didn’t happen- I was always way too tired after!

Leave a Reply to Andi Cancel Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *