The 4th Stage of Loss: Despair

I’m just going to go out and say it, because I don’t know what else will help, and because in a moment of desperation, I even admitted it to my boss yesterday: This lack of running is beginning to severely depress me.

Bam. Catharsis. All better, right?

I woke up on Thursday morning and (as always) all I wanted was to run. But, for those of you who are joining us now, I’m coming back from injury and, as amazing as my body feels right now, this morning, at this very moment, I made a promise – to myself and all of you (oh, accountability) — that I would not run. And so I won’t.

Damn. Problem unsolved.

I should be fair. Maybe, it’s not only the running –I haven’t quite felt like myself lately, my emotions hitting extreme highs and even more extreme lows more frequently than I’d like. But maybe it is the running, or lack of it. Or, perhaps more accurately, it’s my inability to determine what I should and should not be doing and when I’ll be back to normal. 

(This is me, really, really normal and not at all awkward.)

Based on my current effort to run short distances every other day, Wednesday was a run day. With 3 miles on my plate, I set off toward the bottom of Central Park, the plan being to run to the entrance — where I’d usually cross the threshold into my favorite place on earth — and then, almost masochistically, to turn around and head on back home.

If you recall yesterday, I jokingly, but seriously, mentioned that runners tend to do this to themselves. My itch to even peer in to Central Park needed to be scratched, but what I wound up doing was merely spreading the disease. The moment I feasted my eyes on the literally greener pastures within, all I began thinking was, well, what if I were to do just one lap of the lower loop? Then I came to my senses, and I turned myself around.

As fate would have it, I veered east toward Park Avenue and took its wide, businessmen and women-clad sidewalks back home to my apartment just below Grand Central Station. Usually, I’d do some form of weights or yoga, but to be honest, I was too mentally drained to lift another finger. All I really wanted was to cry.

As Noah put it, I went to work on Wednesday forecasting an 80 percent chance of tears. I did my best to restrain myself all day, simply going through the motions without stirring any sources of sadness or stress. It worked, and by the end of the day, I actually think I managed to work out all of my frustrations. Between mulling over my thoughts, 2 glasses of wine and an amazing dinner at Pylos to celebrate a wonderful triumph in Noah’s life, and this amazing coconut popsicle from Big Gay Ice Cream, I think I managed to transition from the fourth stage of loss — depression and despair — to the fifth and final stage: acceptance.

Something else I did: I made an appointment with a sports medicine doctor. Unfortunately, when you want to see the best, you have to wait the longest. Right now, my appointment is for September 7th, the day after I go to a general practitioner to have blood work done to find out why I’m constantly getting sick (I mean, really, 2 sore throats in 2 weeks, and 3 fevers since January, is a bit too much). I plan on calling everyday for the next week to check for cancellations, but if that doesn’t work, I honestly can’t promise right now that I’ll actually follow through with this appointment; that’ll really depend on how I feel while running over the next couple of weeks.

For now, I have 2 general goals for this weekend.

  1. Run. A 5-mile run. If I can do this on Saturday without any pain, I can foresee myself perking up even just a little bit. These 3 milers are just too brief to actually determine whether or not I’m back to myself and whether or not those small twinges I feel are something to actually be worried about.
  2. Escape. To get out of the city. After fleeing Manhattan every weekend in July, I was beyond excited to spend a few weekends back home. Now, after 2 weekends in a row in Manhattan, I desperately need fresh, non-urban air and the sight of trees. (Again, Central Park was my outlet during these moments of claustrophobia, but I’m unable to actually spend any significant amount of time there for now.)

I’m tired. I’m overwhelmed. And I’m beyond sad that my physical and mental release feels so far out of my reach. Hopefully this weekend will do wonders for both entities, and I can return on Monday with good news, fun stories, happy thoughts and a whole new and much-needed positive outlook on everything.

Over and out.

  • Has being unable to run for an extended period of time ever made you sad or depressed?
  • Give me your positive running stories from this week! While the topic of running may be off limits for my boyfriend (who is training for a marathon and running all the time and loving it — ugh), I’d love to hear from you. Send good stories this way!
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18 thoughts on “The 4th Stage of Loss: Despair

  1. YES! When I was injured after the marathon last year, the month of no running that followed was absolutely horrible! Thankfully, I found Soul Cycle to be a huge relief during that time but the endorphins really aren’t the same as running! Now I’m barely running, and I don’t really know why.

    • I need SoulCycle to lower their prices like, maybe, 97 percent? I can totally see how that’d be a great outlet though! I did Physique 57 last week and LOVED it.

  2. Never under estimate how much running is dealing with your stress levels (even when we don’t realise it at the time!) I’m currently reduced to just walking on the treddy…..not because frozen shoulder is a legit injury for getting out of running but because I’m seriously unfit again and haven’t run for ages. It’s seriously impacting on my ability to cope with every day ups and downs…..and much as I hate to admit it, it would seem I was much happier mood wise when training for the marathon. Hope you can find an interim substitute, even if it’s just going out in the sun for a walk to plan some new running routes, and that you feel a bit more glittery again soon 🙂

    • Thanks a ton for your happy, inspiring words. Hoping that your walks turn to jogs and your jogs to runs and your runs to training for something that is meaningful to you soon.

  3. YES it sucks not to be able to run. BUT…

    I am a little bit jealous of you. Right now, you have the opportunity to try all sorts of different cross-training exercises that you might otherwise put off for a run. Get out there and do some Zumba! Hit up a Boot Camp class! Go enjoy some of those big-city workout centers that those of us in Kansas can’t take advantage of. Try a CrossFit class, or an aerial Yoga class (that’s always sounded intriguing to me).

    I know that as runners, we run for more than just fitness. But, as I tell my first graders, when we try new things we learn from those experiences and have a lot more fun.

    Just some thoughts 🙂

    • I have been! And it’s been great. I’ve been checking out TONS of yoga in the city and even tried Physique 57 last week. It’s great. But even being adventurous gets old fast…I’m ready for Central Park again. Hopefully after this weekend. I’d like to think that I’ve been pretty level headed, at least on the outside, for not being able to run very much for nearly 3 weeks now, which is SO much longer than I anticipated! Sending some big city props your way — check out Exhale’s Core Fusion videos on YouTube (just did 3) for a bit of Manhattan in Kansas 🙂

  4. Did you just have your primary doctor refer you to a sports medicine one? If you don’t want to wait that long, try zocdoc.com. I was able to get a same-day appointment earlier this week.

    • I have a specific doctor that I want to see — a NYC guru of running docs — so there’s nothing I can do but wait. I tend to be pretty leery of all physicians, so who I see is as important as when it happens.

  5. It’s not that I had an injury that kept me from running, but I had a period of time from about February until the beginning of July when I Just didn’t run or do anything physical whatsoever. I think it started the day after I found out I wouldn’t be hiking Kilimanjaro anymore for the summer (I had been training up until this point). I basically just stopped going back to the gym, then got nervous about going back after letting time pass, and then got “busy” to just avoid the gym was there, and then I finally got depressed from literally not doing anything physical in months. One beautiful morning I woke up and went for a run around Hyde Park (I was in London at the time) and it was a pretty incredible feeling. I think it helped return me to my normal self again, and it motivated me to get moving and to see what I had been missing!

    i hope you can get back to running soon, or at least just being outdoors and enjoying the weather until then!

    • Thanks for sharing your story. It helps to know that there are a million reasons why someone is unable to or unmotivated to lift a finger, but that it always comes back. I’ve been spending as much time outdoors as possible, even if it’s only 1 mile. Hope you’re back up and running – literally and metaphorically – now!

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  8. sorry i’m late to the game here, but I’m so glad from your most recent posts you’re doing better and thankful for this story. Escaping from the city is GREAT to help dodge that feeling of sadness, especially since you’re breaking out of your routine. hope you keep feeling better!!

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