Overdosing on Trail Running

I should have known just by looking at my calendar. The month of June was nuts! The overlapping activities and trips away matched a celebrity partying on speed. Only this was the running-addict version, and we’re talking endorphins, not party drugs. Here’s what insanity looks like, in case you need a reminder like I apparently do:

  • 1 week running around in northern California, over 100 miles and 1 all nighter run pacing at Western States.
  • 3 days at home in BC to do laundry with infected blisters, accidentally kept running lots and biking.
  • drove through the night to seattle to take a flight to Denver, then slept on a sidewalk and hitch-hiked the state as a great way to rest before running at huge altitude every day for a week in Colorado.
  • came home from Colorado and a few days later, despite feeling decidedly exhausted even in short flat runs, took off again to the BC Rockies to run the Trailstoke 60k in Revelstoke.
  • Trailstoke performance shouted to tell me I was way off normal energy and wellness, so I got a blood test. Damnit. Iron deficient!
  • Stupidity won out. I wanted to win this battle with the stupid iron issue trying to get in my way, and I thought the best way to overcome a low was to push past it. Ran another 100 miler week despite just learning about iron deficiency. Whoops!
  • STOP!!!

Angry Camel

At the end of that 100 mile week, the signs were undeniable when I went to do an epic all day adventure run. I struggled to walk up hills that were normally enjoyable to run, and I had to stop for pizza and bubble tea as though I was dying, after less than my normal commute run home. Finally, I became open to the messages my body was trying to tell me. I had overdosed, big time! And for a long time, I had been misinterpreting everything, thinking it would be great training to push when times were hard. But what I had failed to recognize, is there is a difference between hard times to deny and push through, and hard times to accept, listen to, and act with. I think normal athletic pain is the kind that we can choose to deny and to push through. But when the feelings signify the onset of a bigger health issue, it’s definitely time to stop. The two can be difficult to distinguish, and it’s key to get it right. Listening to friends would have been a great start!

I’m finally on the rest and chill plan, but I sometimes suffer from pretty bad relapses. (I totally get what it must be like for celebrities who got onto the party drug path.) Like last weekend, I wanted to run all the way around Wonderland trail, even though all my friends told me that was a stupid idea given my iron problems. Thankfully, logistical issues meant I had to stop at 30 miles. And even after that, I ended up getting mild heat stroke for my behaviour. I think I have all the relapses out of my system now and with two weeks until Cascade Crest, my first hundred miler, there’s no more screwing around with recovery.

Trail running brings us so much joy, but just like party drugs, sometimes we can overdose on an amazing lifestyle.

sunset in CO

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