I once knew this girl who had a secret addiction and sometimes suffered from insomnia.
It affected every single other part of her life.
No matter how tired she was, or how much she tried, she couldn’t get to sleep.
She looked at possible triggers which might bring it on and she tried to eliminate them.
It seemed that the thing she loved doing: running long, ended up making her restless and her mind over active.
A few days after the run, she’d be physically fine if a bit tired from the run.
But unable to sleep for hundreds and thousands of thoughts.
She’d lie there for hours and wonder why she couldn’t sleep.
She read all about how to deal with it, so she’d get up and do relaxing activities like read or listen to music.
She’d quit alcohol already and stayed away from caffeine after 1pm.
She generally lived a good, happy and successful life.
But when it happened, lack of sleep was getting to her.
She’d be at work, tired from not sleeping the night before.
Unable to focus, frustrated and upset that she couldn’t just get on with her job.
She longed for an afternoon nap, but couldn’t take one.
She put off exercise in favour of relaxing activities to help her to wind down.
But she couldn’t function normally.
That long run and the buzz around it did something to her.
Switched a button and made her a different person.
She tried not to let it happen, but it still happened.
For days after her long run, she couldn’t sleep.
For hours on end, thinking about this and that.
Her running, she thought, brought all of this on.
Would she have to stop running?
Running was what she did: short runs, fast runs, hill runs, marathons, long run training, social fun runs.
Now it was like running was her guilty pleasure that she shouldn’t do anymore.
She felt like a secret alcoholic with drink.
She was addicted to something that might be having a detrimental effect on her.
‘Running is good for you.’
But when she ran long or intensely it was like she stayed awake for days. Like the hormones produced were too much for her brain.
Her body recovered well, but her mind became too active and unable to do the basics.
Unable to sleep and do everyday things without distraction.
Frustrated, angry, emotional and unable to focus on the day job.
She was unable to focus on one thing or person at a time.
Unbalanced and wondering why she couldn’t just get on and do things.
She tried to be careful and changed what she did.
She cut out long and intense runs.
She tried not to run at night, she took care of herself.
She focused on other things like strength training for a change.
She stopped entering events,
Thinking the buzz from them was too much.
She started focussing less on her own running,
And started helping others to get the running bug instead.
But like an addict she keeps going back for more.
She knows it seems to be bad for her, but she knows she CAN do it.
Every now and then she builds up her running and feels amazing.
Endorphins flying high, feeling amazing… then she crashes (again).
The good feelings turn into unsettledness and frustration,
With far too many ideas buzzing around in her head.
She gets hit by an all mighty self inflicted mental hangover.
It’s hard to understand, hard to handle and its hard to manage.
Life goes out of the window.
She tries to control her emotions.
Trying not to be upset that one thing she loves, she maybe can’t or shouldn’t do.
Take care of yourself they all say, I’m trying she says.
She knows she has to stop it: Stop her addiction: Stop running long.
But she doesn’t think she wants to.
She wants to be free to run like she knows she can, like everyone else can.
She wants to be free and able to do what she wants.
It feels like she’s got an invisible injury.
That no one can see and that no one has ever heard of.
It feels a bit like she’s making it all up, making a mountain out of a mole hill.
But it’s very real, and it happens to her.
Even though she knows she shouldn’t run long like she lets herself sometimes, she keeps it mostly to herself.
Running along with a smile on her face, not letting people know that running might be bad for her.
Trying to change things so she doesn’t get the hangover,
Hoping one day she can just run long and not have it affect everything else.
The girl, of course, is me.
Always trying to improve and always trying to get a balance between what I want to do and what I know is good for me (and what isn’t good for me!).