Because we’re still in the beginning phases of this blog, I thought I’d introduce a concept that Michael and I have been thinking about: Workout Wednesday! Workout Wednesdays will be more about Michael and I, and less about my dog Cooper. Don’t worry though, the pup will still be involved! On Wednesdays though, we’ll be discussing our workouts (and sometimes our diets) from the past week. There are so many ways to get your burn on, and maybe this will motivate us to try new things, because honestly, who wants to hear “I ran and Michael lifted heavy things” every single Wednesday? Boring! Even though I do run some fun races, like Hell Run
most of the time when I run it looks like this
Like I said, Boring. Even though it doesn’t look like I’m having fun (and sometimes I truly hate my life choices) I do love running and I love what it does for me. Not only does it allow me to drink ridiculous amounts of chocolate milk, it stabilizes my mood and settles my mind more than I ever thought possible. How do I know this?
Because I took a week off of running.
My foot started hurting last Monday, which is always scary for a runner. I self diagnosed myself with an abductor hallucis injury and ended up taking seven days off to try to heal, which activated my panic mode. Less than three weeks out from an 8 mile race and less that four from my second half marathon I though I would take a week off? Please. I resigned myself to the fact that I could be limping though the races, and that I may even need to scrap the half – opting out of Ski to Sea, the 8 miler, is neither physically nor emotionally possible. As a part of an 8 person relay race it would be disrespectful to my teammates to quit on them now, and I personally can’t even imagine the idea of not doing S2S. It’s more than a race…
Either way, I took a week off of all physical exercise (except for soccer, where I got the crap beat out of me by a bearded dude – a story for another post) and while my foot healed, my mind began to turn on me.
Studies show that regular exercise increases brain levels of serotonin and dopamine (don’t believe me? here’s some heavy reading http://web1.ulb.ac.be/facs/ism/docs/Neurotransmission.pdf) which are the two major chemicals that play a role in clinical depression. Lower levels of dopamine and serotonin in be brain have been linked to depression, in which an individual may feel easily agitated, lethargic, and a sense of hopelessness (you want sources? jeesh, y’all have trust issues! http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-symptoms-and-types). So, it makes sense that when a person stops exercising, her body experiences a decrease in dopamine and serotonin and it begins to feel like depression.
During my rest week, especially as the number of days since my last run grew, that overwhelming sense of hopelessness began to descend on me. I was irritable and pouty, and I obsessively worried about every stressor in our lives. I was on the verge of tears for maybe 40% of the weekend. Not only was it not fun being me, I was not fun to be around (ask Michael).
Thankfully, I went on a run with my dog Cooper on Monday, and everything seemed to brighten! The birds began chirping again, the sky didn’t seem so dark, and food tasted good again. I’ve been taking it easy, so as not to exacerbate my abductor hallucis injury, but running and then using the stationary bike at the gym have helped pull me out of that scary funk. God help us all if I ever break my leg!
P.S. If you feel you may be suffering from depression, please see your doctor. I am not a doctor, so please don’t think “oh if I run everything will be fine!” Every person is different, and what works for me may not work for you.
P.P.S. This is what Michael and Cooper looked like after Hell Run, and after a scrubby shower 🙂