For as long as I can remember, I have dealt with stress by working out. I’ve never been a stress eater, for which I am grateful. But a good workout was always what helped me to push through the stress. This has served me well over the years.
This new kind of stress is different. I can feel it affecting my runs. It has an impact on my motivation to get my workouts in. I’ve dealt with this stress in a completely opposite fashion than I have in the past.
When I was a few months into my running program three years ago my brother was arrested and my world fell apart. The stress was astronomical. And it pushed me towards my workouts. The anger drove me through my runs when my legs and lungs begged me to stop.
Not so with my father’s illness. For the first time in my life, stress has not driven me to a workout. For the most part I just want to curl up with a blanket in my recliner and push the world away while I come to grips with my father’s impending death. I get started on my workout and feel like I just can’t do it. I put in a half-hearted effort so that I can get home. But this is a time when I need my workouts more than ever before. The thousands (literally) of miles that I’ve spent in my car over the last few months driving to and from my parents have left my hips tight and sore, my legs and back stiff.
I need my workouts. I need to be able to put out of my mind the dark circles I see around my mother’s eyes. I need to be able to put out of my mind the look of hopelessness on my father’s face. I need to be able to release the tension that I feel trying to coordinate care for my parents. I need to run! And I need my runs to clear my mind like they have in the past. I need that solace that running has provided for me.
This is such a different type of stress than anything I’ve ever had to deal with. I need to get it figured out.