Wednesday, May 18, 2011

5 Stages of Running Withdrawal

I accomplished a lot in the past 18 months. It’s been an exciting adventure and the next season of running is looking even better. Unfortunately training consistently for that long without a break has left me feeling a bit battered at times. Now that a nagging pain in my right shin has persisted for a month I figured it was finally time to rest. Marathon training starts back up again next month and I want to start out healthy.

I am currently on day four of my hiatus, the longest I have gone without running since February of 2010. In just that short amount of time I already discovered that quitting cold turkey results in withdrawal symptoms that put taper madness to shame. As it turns out, running is as physically addictive as heroine.

So I thought I would share my 5 Stages of Running Withdrawal.

1. Denial: Rest? Who needs rest? Not me. I can’t get injured, I’m invincible. This pain just means I need to switch shoes, or improve my form, or get a massage, or run trails instead of roads, stretch more, buy painkillers in bulk, get a foam roller, a stick, a brace, runner’s tape, stock up on that magic ointment they hide behind the counter in the Asian market, stroke my lucky rabbits foot, consult a witch doctor, surf through TV infomercials looking for miracle cures . . . .

2. Anger: I haven’t had a quality long run in a month and suddenly every phrase that exits my mouth is peppered with language so foul it would make a sailor blush. As a precaution, I started warning the highway patrol to clear the roads before I start my morning and evening commutes. There is also a sign posted outside my office door “Watch Out for Flying Equipment” as even the slightest malfunction is likely to be followed by a hysterical temper tantrum the likes of which would make two year olds stand and take notice.

3. Bargaining: I promised myself no running for at least a week. Oh, but WVR’s got that new track workout tonight, that really sounds like fun.  Maybe I’ll just go and see how I feel. And the Genuine Bistro run is tomorrow, I love that route (and the beer afterward), surely just a quick 5 mile run wouldn’t do any harm. I'll keep my pace over 10:00 minutes.  Well, maybe speed up just a bit for one mile, but no faster than 9:00, wait, its a coolest evening we've had in a while.  OK 2 miles at 8:30, no faster than that, I promise, unless I think I can catch up to the person ahead of me.  My alarm is set for 7:00 am, so why am I wide awake at 4:30? Since I’m up anyway, why don’t I just lace up my shoes and tell myself later it was a dream.

4. Depression: Sob.

5. Acceptance: is a myth. I want to run.


  1. I. Love. It.

    Right now I am at Stage 3, hoping to not get to Stage 4.

  2. That's to funny and true. I had #1 and #4 then couldn't take it anymore. And yes it is addictive like drugs.

  3. This post gave me goosebumps. It's kind of frightening just how addicting running is, and I can totally relate to #1. I hope I don't get any further than that though...

    Good luck healing up Bird, I hope you can resume your training pain free really really soon!

  4. Great post, Bird - and ohhhh, so true!

  5. Awww! Great writing Bird :) I hope heal right up and get back to running pain free.

  6. Thats for the Palm Bluff wrtie up. Made my way out there yesterday morning and duplicated your run.

  7. @anonymous - I enjoyed that trail. I hope you didn't make the same wrong turns that I did.

  8. Hello, finding your blog sort of helped me describe what I'm going through. I was a (high school) state Runner Fall season and hurt myself just as the official Spring season finally started. IT band, so it's taking a very long time, especially since 'stage 1' took me awhile to get through. skipped stage 3 lol.

    1. ITB problems can be frustrating but I'm sure if you give it some time you will recover quickly. I'm glad my blog was of some help. Good luck!