I understand now why, despite putting in months of effort and training, I may not be ready for a sub 2:00 half marathon... yet.
It turns out I'm pretty broken. WAS broken, that is.
Four years ago, right around the time I was training for my first half marathon, I stopped menstruating. I took a pregnancy test, breathed a sigh of relief when it came out negative, and otherwise didn't question it. As someone who is not planning on having children, I welcomed the disappearance of my monthly cycle. Headaches and cramps were a thing of the past. I saved a fortune on feminine products. And no more ruined trips to the beach. Lucky me, right?
I carried on my flippant attitude towards amenorrhea until I was at my annual check up with my Ob/Gyn later that year. She suggested performing some blood tests to check thyroid function, but my TSH levels came back normal. Her next recommendation?
"Stop running so much."
Yeah, right. As someone on the run, eat, repeat cycle, I wasn't ready to heed her advice. And my eating disorder was a very private battle at the time, not a secret I'd even let a doctor in on.
Over the following years, my period showed up, I don't know, maybe twice a year? It always caught me off guard. So when it came last December, I figured it was just another one of those random occurrences.
When it came again in January, I thought "Drag. You again?"
And when it came back for a third time in February, I gave it appropriate notice. Enough to bring it to the attention of a trusted mentor, who really put things in perspective for me.
A major organ system of mine had shut down completely - one that evolution depends on.
There was so much wrong with my body that furthering our species - the thing we're all wired to do (my choice to forgo motherhood aside) - was no longer a priority for it. That's kind of a big deal.
And I had brushed it off. For four years.
When I changed how I train back in November - from harder/faster/longer to the much gentler Maffetone Method - things started working the way they should again.
By running at a lower intensity, eating better, and paying greater attention to my stress levels, I'm definitely getting my health back.
But... given how long I was so broken for... I need to be patient and understand it may take me a little bit longer to get back to a place where I'm fully recovered enough to hit my sub 2:00 goal.
So to my running friends and female readers - I know we don't have the kind of relationship where we're like
But if you are experiencing anything like this, whether you want to have children or not, let's talk about it. Because I regret not listening to my body more fully a long time ago. If I did... how many sub 2:00 half marathons would I have today?
Today's Exercise: Another Breakthrough. But that's a story for tomorrow.