So where did I leave off… That’s right- Spring track of last year- my freshman year! The season ended and I was still feeling determined and competitive; very ready for cross country. One big mistake I made, however, was not taking an actual break from running. I took a couple days off here and there but I really did not want to take a solid week or two off from running because I loved running so much and also knew I would feel very guilty from lack of exercise.
Continuously training, I set goals for myself. I wanted to run low 8 minute miles on each of my runs, I didn’t want to take any breaks: not even for stoplights. Summer training is for getting that mileage in and getting ready to go for cross country, not for putting unnecessary pressure and stress on yourself like I did! BIG mistake, I think.
Even when I was in Hawaii, visiting my grandma, I was stressing myself out about just simple easy runs. I remember breaking down on an extra hot day and just stopping in the middle of my run many times. This was the beginning of what I called my “running rut”.
picture of Hawaii- I miss it a lot
Throughout my “running rut” I lacked the motivation and drive I once had to run. I still ran but I found it so difficult not to stop many times during the run. I think part of the reason that I was having such a hard time was because I had stressed myself out so much about running that I just sort of… (for lack of a better term) cracked?
Later in the summer, I would rely on running with my friend to get me to go out on runs and not stop a billion times. However, I was always struggling to keep up and feeling exhausted.
At the end of the summer, I went to Bennett Running Camp, which was a lot of fun and a great experience, but I struggled on every run. I just felt utterly exhausted and the hills were such a challenge (which they should be- but I was running extremely slow as well). Little did I know, I was most likely iron deficient.
Iron deficiency anemia is when you don’t get enough iron in your body and it can cause fatigue that impairs the ability to do physical work in adults. When cross country started, I was anemic but I still kept up with the top group on “easy” runs (which were not easy at all for me). However, when we had our first scrimmage, I felt so tired and depleted of energy that in the moment of things, I stopped in the middle and cried. I felt so guilty that I had dropped out and it haunted me the rest of the season. 😦
When real races began, I was so shocked by the times I was running, for they were so much worse than my freshman year (like 24’s through 26’s). Races still hurt and I didn’t know what was wrong with me.
I felt myself losing hope towards the end of the season. Being one of the slowest girls on the team was hard to handle, because I had worked hard the whole summer and I had no idea what was happening to my performance. My teammates expressed concern, but believed I was having a mental struggle and also I told them that it was my stomach that hurt a lot, because I was getting stomach aches pretty much every run I went on.
lookin’ good, Sarah. haha jk
When winter track came, I hoped to turn things around. Sadly, things didn’t and I was still running slow times and getting even more dissapointed with myself (6:15 miles and 13:30 2 miles approx., and 2:45 800 which wasn’t too bad). My coach talked to me and told me that he believed I had anemia, but for some weird reason I didn’t think so and my mom didn’t want to take me to the doctor (she never wants to go to the doctor besides for checkups).
Spring arrived and with that, spring track! Once again, I was excited and hopeful that by some miracle, things would turn around. No such thing happened. I was still running slow times and they were just getting slower and slower (6:30 miles and almost 14 minute 2 miles). I was getting really upset and getting really worried about my health and such.
Late into the season, my friend recommend I take iron pills, and when I did so, within 2 weeks, I ran a 12:21 3200 and I was like Wow! Those iron pills were like magic I am so thankful for them and the way that they helped me so much.
Sadly, my season is over and I only had 2 races non-anemic this entire year. I feel like it was almost a waste of a year, but it is what it is, and I am so pumped for XC next year!!!! Wooohoooo!!!! Thanks for reading, guys!
P.S.: Soon I’m taking a 2 week break then starting XC training which I’ll tell you about when I figure out what exactly I’m doing! 🙂