Remember that thing you were TOTALLY obsessed with and swore you would love it forever … until you didn’t? I had two reminder of how this can happen recently, one related to running and one not – let me tell one of them and then give a few thoughts on dealing with the ebb and flow of life.
One of my ‘internet friends’ for many years had a heart attack years ago, and as part of coming back got into running more seriously than ever, and spent several years running quite a bit, eventually doing marathons and half marathons and so on.
Then he more or less ‘lost his running mojo’ as he wsa heading into a marathon, and within a few months had another heart attack. (funny, as I write this I am recognozing many similarities to what happened with my brother last year!). Coming back from this heart attack a couple of years ago, running just hasn’t been his thing – he is still keeping active but doesn’t really have any plans to do races.
So what did I have to say when we were emailing about this? Here are a few things I talked about:
1. Realize that ebb and flow is natural
As I said, most of us can look at things that were ‘our life’ for a certain period – maybe it was bodybuilding or cross-stitch or playing ukelele or fixing cars or whatever. And then either slowly or quickly we shifted into something else. Maybe we return to it … and maybe we don’t.
Those with older kids can look at how this happens over time, but for those without kids – look at your parents and maybe ask them about what they were into earlier in their life and how it changed.
Point is – life is not a constant straight-line path.
2. Don’t focus on a single thing
When talking to this friend, he was comparing himself to me and the fact that I have always been single-mindedly a runner. He was really nota huge runner except for a few years, and was always more into a variety of sports.
And that was my advice – so long as you are active – that is good, that is enough … and that is good enough. Surviving two heart attacks is not trivial (in the case of my brother, having him alive at all after last year is no small miracle), and the goal needs to be activity – ANY activity that works.
Another thing – it seems like there is some backlash building about the marathon as the ‘ultimate’ distance – that somehow EVERY runner should pursue the marathon distance, or that you aren’t a runner if you don’t do the marathon. Finally people see that there is a reason there are more than a dozen distance specialties in track, because everyone is different – some are joyous at half-marathon but miserable at full-marathon.
Why torture yourself rather than find the pursuit that is your joy?
3. Is It Physical?
My struggles between 2008 – 2012 were based on my thyroid dying, getting on medication and slowly normalizing. Unfortunately I gained loads of weight during that time, making getting back to running consistently a struggle.
At this point the systems that were keeping me down are now working with me to pump my metabolism into overdrive and fuel me through my days. But before then, I was struggling against my body – I was just lucky to have it diagnosed.
4. Are You Depressed?
I have linked to Ann’s Running Commentary, and she has detailed her struggles with depression – and how it has impacted her running and training and exercise in general. Depression has a huge impact on every aspect of your life.
And honestly when my thyroid was dying, it was around the same time I had gotten laid off, so I was unsure whether or not it was normal or if I was depressed. Turns out it was my thyroid … but unless you know it is physical, if you are feeling this way PLEASE meet with someone.
5. Sometime, You Just Have to Move On
Running is just one of the many forms of exercise available. Exercise is definitely important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but for people like my wife with joint issues who cannot run, there are other options such as elliptical or biking or walking or gym machines or yoga or karate/kickboxing … you get my point.
The point is that you should seek to exercise and keep up your activity for health, period. Anything above that – great.
My Other Story
I have been a computer gamer since it became ‘a thing’ – you can go back to the Apple ][+ (i.e. 1979) and Castle Wolfenstein as my first ‘gaming obsession’. And this past week I was playing the indie RPG ‘Eschalon Book III’. But for a period, it was a HUGE thing for me.
Last week I got an email from a friend I knew from my heaviest period of doing game reviews, and he had used Archive.org to seek out an old review. His comment was that he found it amazing that I was so prolific and yet wrote such indepth reviews. How prolific? My peak year I produced more than 225 game reviews across PC, Mac, DS and PSP.
It is hard to imagine that now – I probably do ~50 game reviews a year at this point, and most are 2-3 hour iPad games. Back then most of the games were full 10-20 hour ‘AAA’ games.
The question I have been asked before is HOW I did that – and the answer is simple: it became my singular hobby. As gaming ramped, reading stopped, running was less of a priority, I slept less, and never worked on my music playing or compositions. And as I wanted other things back in my life, gaming took a back seat. I still love playing computer games, but it is much less of a priority, and about a half-dozen things take precedent.
At some point in our lives, we all had something we loved that later became part of our past. I had high school teachers who thought I should pursue writing and music, but I was always going to be an engineer/statistician. But guess what – I still make music regularly and obviously love writing.
I will always be a runner – even if I have periods where running is more of a secondary pursuit than it is now. So if you are struggling – look to see if it is something medical, or if maybe you should look in another direction.
So what things have ebbed and flowed in YOUR life?