Embrace: Living Off the Clock

Even a broken clock is right twice a day

Image by slack12 via Flickr

Hello friends, and welcome to Monday evening.  After the weekend I had, it’s become to clear to me that in spite of the work I do toward maintaining a positive attitude and trying to keep on down the road of ED recovery, I still have a lot to learn.  Among those things: how to relax and go a little bit easier on myself.

Lately, everything has been a source of stress and frustration.  I’m stressed in the morning once I leave for work, I’m stressed throughout the day, and I’m stressed on my way home as I think about all the things I need to fit into a short space of time.  The things I love, like running, doing yoga, blogging, and spending time with Nat, get jumbled with everything else, transforming me into a tightly wound ball of anger and frustration.  I’m not able to get anything done for myself, and once you reach that point, it becomes nearly impossible to get anything done for anyone else.  It’s not the way I want my life to be.

Last week I wrote about how rigid I am when it comes to living by the clock; I’m so addicted that I hesitate to leave for a run without my Garmin, even though that thing sometimes annoys the living daylights out of me and can often contribute to a perfectly fine run becoming horrible just because my pace is different from what I thought it might be.  There’s value in knowing what time it is, but is  it really so important that I know exactly how much I’ve run, down to the hundredth of a mile?  Does my pace really matter so much that it should dictate whether I feel good about myself or not?  I think the answer to those two questions is the same, not to mention pretty obvious.

I got a really wonderful comment on yesterday’s post:

I just wanted to share my friend’s experience in case it turns out to help you. She also struggled with an eating disorder and is an avid runner. She said that she had to stop running except for fun — she doesn’t enter races, she doesn’t time herself or track her distances. She just gets up in the morning and goes for a run to feel the ground beneath her feet and to think about her day. She told me that running was very similar to her obsessions with food — she found that tracking time and speed, etc., was very unhealthy for her and kept her from fully recovering.

It made me realize that although I think running has helped my recovery in a lot of ways, the tracking aspect of it has often become stressful for me.  The mileage, the times, the paces…it all becomes one more way in which to evaluate myself and come up short.  And so even though I’m currently signed up for two races (and expensive ones that are hard to get into, no less), I’m going to challenge myself to embrace the idea of letting the numbers go.  I will still run the Marine Corps Marathon as well as the Philadelphia Half-Marathon, but I’ll do my best to train for both of them without my Garmin.

Now, there may be a few runs that end up in the category of exceptions, but that can’t be helped.  For the most part, I’ll rely on my knowledge of where the mile markers are so that I know that I’m doing enough mileage per week to be well-conditioned for these events.  But the focus will no longer be on my pace or the exact distance of my run.  Instead, I’m hoping that living off the clock will help me to learn how to focus on myself, and give my body what it needs.  Maybe it will be a huge disaster.  Who knows?  At least I will have tried.  I certainly don’t have anything to lose, and I might end up gaining an immeasurable amount.

Is there anything you think you could embrace that might help you eliminate a source of unnecessary stress in your life?

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5 comments

  1. Your post helped me today. I’ve been feeling pretty down because my running paces are extremely slow (infact I’m actually walking alot during my runs) compared to a couple of months ago when I was more intrenched in ED thoughts. I probably need to let go of the Garmin, as well as some kind of prescribed distance and just run when I feel like it. Its soooo hard. I’m with you on that. Its like losing a piece of me.

  2. Until a few months ago, I was a “yes” person to everyone around me. Then, I realized I was neglecting myself. I was so busy pleasing everyone else, comforting the friend on the phone for hours, going to events I did not really have any interest for simply because I did not want to be alone, that I did not have time to pursue what I loved, or to even discover what I love.
    By the end of the day, I was going to bed early, sad (I don’t eat when I am sad, I sleep).
    Then, I read an article about being more focused on my life. I made a list of priorities in every category (health, work, friends, family). You may think of this as overdoing, but I was surprised to find myself, what I wanted and what I love.
    So, to answer your question, I am embracing selfishness, or rather, to use a more apt word, I am embracing myself.

  3. I had similar obsessive behavior when I started running and tracking my progress. At one point my exercise, which was previously just to make me feel good, turned into a means to burns calories, and nothing else. I agree it might help you to take a step back and just run for fun. Don’t pressure yourself.

    Oh She Glows had a great post recently about coping with anxiety, one of which was to do less. I can’t agree with this more. You can’t do everything in life. Take time to get some R&R. I try to spend at least an evening or two a week just reading or watching movies – no “work.”

  4. That comment really resonated with me. This whole post does! I am going to agree with you that running has helped my recovery immensely. But I also have to admit that when I was first running, I had a lot more joy in the process. Then I got the Garmin and started ripping myself to shreds over pace all the time instead of running by feel. I quit using DailyMile for a while because I felt like there was a pressure to post my data there. Then I decided to use it again, but not ever post my pace, simply because that was causing me anxiety. I guess it doesn’t matter if I run a 9:00/mile one day and a 10:20 the next, as long as I felt good, right?

    I think when I can run again, I will just use my Suunto watch to keep track of the time of day while I’m out and just run by time & feel. (as opposed to pace & distance) I don’t have any real race plans coming up anyway. Other than coaching my Team Challenge group, which really doesn’t have the same training needs as a personal race would.

    Wow… ramble much, Jill?! Guess I’m using your blog’s comments to process! 🙂

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