Legs bouncing. Fingers tap-tap-tapping, then running through hair. Teeth tugging at lips. Sighing heavily. Unease in the pit of the stomach, tension in the shoulders, one thought in the brain:
I. Need. To. Run.
For the past week, I’ve been disastrously sick. Cold chills, stuffy head, body aches, and exhaustion are just a few of the things I’ve battled with tissues and tea from my bed during the beautiful hours when I’m not dragging myself through the winter slush to get to class. (It’s been fun. A blast. Best week ever.)
And thanks to this illness, I’ve been living every endorphin junkie’s nightmare:
I haven’t been able to run.
In a week.
This is only the second time since falling in love with the sport that I’ve had a full week off. The first time was over the summer during a family vacation to the beach where I couldn’t complain too much because, hello, I was at the beach. I also kept plenty active on that trip with miles of walking every day, so being away from my beloved Mizunos wasn’t as heartbreaking as it could have been. As it is, say, right now.
And as this is my first real experience with run deprivation, I’ve started to notice some symptoms very different from those the mystery bug that landed me in this sweat-free prison has given me.
- Sit down, antsy. Despite having very little energy to do anything besides type, eat, and sleep, being without running has left me downright fidgety. My feet are tapping, legs bouncing, and hands playing more than ever, not to mention the fact that I can’t seem to sit still for more than three minutes at a time without readjusting. I don’t have any energy, and yet I have so much energy. How does that work?
- Stress levels: maximum. Don’t even think of giving me an extra task right now, because I’ll probably start crying and you’ll have to comfort me and it will be very awkward for the both of us. Running is my go-to stress reliever. It keeps me sane and level-headed. With that taken away from me, there’s nothing to stop the rising tide of anxiety.
- Twenty-four hours are so long. Like, so long. What do non-runners do with them all? Without a couple of hours devoted to running and all its trappings—getting ready, traveling to the gym and back, actually running, stretching, taking a shower…—I suddenly have more time than I know how to fill. Is it bedtime yet?
- Focus? What’s that? Remember the thing about running keeping me sane? Yeah, it also keeps me sharp. It gives me an outlet not only for all of the physical energy pulling me apart, but for all of the mental energy as well. It’s true what they say about physical exercise being good for the mind, and I’m sorely in need of a brain boost.
- Excuse us; me, myself, and I need a minute. Running is the ultimate me-time. It’s a chance for me to put in my headphones, tune out the world, and hang out in my head for a while. When I run, I have a chance to get in touch with myself. For as long as I’m putting one foot in front of the other, I don’t have to focus on any responsibilities. I can just be. Without that, I’m left on-edge and listless, a bad combination.
Thankfully, I should be back on my feet soon, and I can’t wait. To all of the runners who experience much longer or much more serious breaks, hats off to you. I don’t think I could last another day like this.
What can I say? If running’s a drug, then I’m an addict. (And I’m dying for a fix.)
Image courtesy of Timothy Takemoto on Flickr.