Friday, 30 November 2012

The twilight zone

The first thing that went through my mind when I woke up this morning was:

I can breathe. Through my nose.

And, man, did that freezing wind taste good as I inhaled greedily. Because, for the first time in over a week, I was healthy. Not ”I think I might be healthy enough to go for an easy jog”-healthy, but full-on, interval-ready healthy. So, as I took my first tentative steps by the river, trying to spot the sun that was snoozing low on the horizon even though midday was approaching, I was filled with pure joy. Finally.

This sleepy sun was casting no more than a pale light over the city, but it was a strange light. The thin coat of snow on pavements and roofs reflected shades of pink and orange, and it made me feel like I was enveloped in a warm blanket – which was in sharp contrast with the sub-zero, blue-lips temperature that turned my wind-induced tears into little ice diamonds on my cheeks.

My legs were eager to cover some serious distance. I decided to run around the bridges, a round of 12 km. As I left the first bridge, I turned my back to the wind and started flying. I was running faster than I'm usually comfortable with, yet I didn't feel tired or out of breath. I was in the Zone. With some relaxing, easy listening tunes in my ears by the likes of Nirvana, Trent Reznor and Prodigy I flew. Until I ran over the other bridge and turned back towards home again. 

The first gulp of frozen headwind hit me like a punch to the lungs. The shock made me lose some speed momentarily and I struggled to pick it up again. Then I chickened out and thought boring, cowardly thoughts, like how I've been ill and shouldn't push it, how my throat is sensitive for cold wind and I didn't have my Lungplus with me, that kind of stuff. And settled for an easier pace. Chicken.

There is rarely a run that's more fun, more fulfilling, more appreciated than the first one after you've been ill or injured.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Confidence and performance in sport

I've been catching up on my sport psychology studies, which had been put on the back-burner so that I'd have time for my photo assignments. When you can't exercise, you can read about other people exercising. A poor substitute is still a substitute.

This week's chapter was about confidence and how it (or its absence) can have an impact on performance. There's that old Henry Ford saying circulating around the blogosphere that summarizes it pretty well: Whether you think you can't or that you can't, you're right. All other things being equal, confidence leads to better performance. If you're well prepared and motivated, to believe in yourself and your abilities can give you that extra edge you need to reach your goals. The reason for that is that you fight harder when you believe that you can succeed. You persevere even when the odds are against you.

The sport psychology bible

Conversely, if you lack confidence, you put in less effort. You're going to lose anyway, so why even try? And the less you try, the more likely you are to lose. The more you lose, the less you're going to believe that you stand any chance of succeeding next time. You end up in a vicious circle of self-fulfilling prophecies.

Imagine yourself running a marathon. Running marathons is tough, both physically and mentally. So what happens if you've trained for it, but lack the confidence that you will make it? When tiredness kicks in, you just want to quit, because you can't see yourself crossing that finish line anyway. But if you're confident in your abilities, you stick with it despite your tiredness, because you believe that you will make it.

So what gives us confidence? Being well-trained is, of course, necessary. No one can win on confidence alone. Having a strategy gives us an advantage before a competition. Liking the way we look (if we see ourselves as strong and healthy, for instance) helps. So does having a support network around us that believes in us. Acting like we're confident and thinking like it too has also been shown to help. These are just some of the things that can make us feel confident, no matter what the task.

The key to building up confidence is to not be over-confident. Know yourself and your limits. Set up goals you know you can achieve with some effort, goals that get progressively harder as you become stronger. Each step on the road towards reaching our goals is a success, so we should draw confidence from them too, and not just from the end result.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Back to the drawing board

I flew too close to the sun. I thought I was healthy enough to start exercising again, and now here I am nursing a clogged nose. A glogged dose and a head full of sand. How many more trees have to be slaughtered to quench my nose's thirst for tissues? How many more coffee beans have to be sacrificed on the altar of headache relief? How many more prepubescent fruits and vegetables have to be forcefully enlisted in my war against the common cold? Screw global warming. I am the real environmental menace.

So it's back to the drawing board for me. I have to revise my plans for the near future to allow for more rest, which just might be more beneficial to me than short runs and TRX-sessions. Now, as I continue on my quest to destroy the planet single-handedly just by being ill, I'm off to deplete the Earth's milk resources. Milk that is enriched with vitamin D, which a very wise lady told me is essential for us Northern Sweden inhabitants who don't get as much of it as we need during the dark winter months.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Those Days

Dear Diary. I'm writing this under the influence. I've drunk half a glass of wine. A half-glass that I truly deserve, as it has been one of Those Days. Those Days when you put the food scale in the fridge instead of the cupboard. When your nose keeps running even though you keep telling it you're not sick any more. When the cat pees on the door mat, the last carpet or carpet-like thing left in the flat after he's peed everywhere else, including the sofa and the bed. Those Days warrant a glass of wine. If for no other reason than to forget that someone so adorable can be such an arse.

Cat shaming.

Those Days might include a lot of activities, like doing the laundry, doing the dishes (twice) and cooking, but one activity they definitely do not include are training. In fact, I haven't trained in five days. Who wouldn't take to drinking under the circumstances?

But I've decided that tomorrow is going to be one of those Other Days. Those Other Days when you wake up healthy, happy and full of energy. When you bike down to the gym to torture your core muscles and then run some intervals in the evening. When everything else goes well too, because when you get to train, Those Days don't come around so often.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Mind power

No question about it. The mind is a beautiful thing, capable of giving us wonderful dreams, playing pranks on us, moving mountains for us and hiding things from us. It is a largely uncharted area. Full of mysteries. Full of dangers.

Knowing how strong the power of suggestion can be, I tried convincing myself that I wasn't really ill. I even went for a walk today, desperate for the light of day (however grey and weak it might be this time of year) after spending the whole morning studying. I even managed to convince myself that I felt better afterwards, and maybe I really did feel better, until a few hours later, when I had to cancel Friday's core session because I really didn't feel better at all.

Then I somehow developed amazing psychic skills, managing to convince Potential Employer no 1 to invite me to an interview just by sending out my super strong vibes to him/her. I then tried to repeat the feat with Potential Employer no 2 (a.k.a the Employer I Really, Really Want To Work For), staring at my phone, willing it to ring and checking my email 582438975 times to see if he'd chosen that route instead. But it was all in vain. My powers were all spent. The phone hasn't rung (yet. I'm staying positive here). And my throat still hurts.

The mind is truly a dangerous thing. Its synapses are the birthplace of denial, anger, sorrow. The fountain of psychosis, depression, phobias. The doctor Frankenstein to the monster under your bed. But it is also a marvellous thing, when it leads us to believe we can run further, jump higher, move that mountain. So I'll just keep staring at the phone, because I'm right for that job and that job is right for me, dammit, and if I concentrate hard enough, my vibes will reach Potential Employer no 2 and make him offer me the job on the spot.

Next stop: using my incredible psychic skills to guess the winning lottery numbers.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Headlamp premier. Sort of.

Time for a short break. Yesterday I discovered, to my great horror, that I had somehow completely missed the fact that I had 4 (!) assignments to turn in for my photography courses, and I have been frantically trying to turn a yellow slide red all morning. Painting blades of grass at pixel level can induce a Parkinsons attack in my right hand, and slide pixels that I've already painted red turn yellow again. Yes, I was that kid in school that couldn't paint within the lines. No fine motor skills to speak of.

Photoshop can be monotonous work sometimes but it's still fun, in a meditative way. Kind of like knitting (I would say if I knew how to knit). Good thing the course leaders are generous with their deadlines. Although I do like to turn in my assignments on time.

Last night I skipped training with AIK and ran with J instead. They were going to run intervals and I wasn't sure if my body was up to it, after the 30 km two days previously. We jogged by the river, me with the headlamp on my forehead, planning in all seriousness to run around all bridges, a total of 14 km. Yeah. I skipped intervals so that I would take it easy, if you're CRAZY and by taking it easy you mean 14 km. It didn't matter though, because after 5 km my knee started feeling weird. As you probably know, I won't stop if I'm not absolutely sure there's something wrong, so I pushed on for a few hundred meters until I was sure. We walked for a minute or so, and then my knee was good to go. But I had revised my plan. 14 km would be too much this evening, and my headlamp premier would have to wait. I kept to the lit parts of the river path and ran a couple of faster kilometres instead, to a total of 10. A golden star for my wisdom in the matter.

This morning I woke up with the feeling that I had swallowed half a litre of snot in my throat. I'm so sorry to gross you out, you guys, but there is no other way to describe that unmistakable feeling that you're about to get the flu. So I did what any sane person would do: I put on my Kinvara and ran to the gym, trained TRX for 40 minutes followed by half an hour at the machines, then ran home again. Ah, denial, my old friend, we meet again.

Shockingly, exercising for nearly 2 hours didn't make things better. So now I'm sipping some peppermint tea wrapped up in some warm clothes. Nothing to do but prey that it's all just in my head. And keep painting pixels.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Varuträsk - there and back again

The kaleidoscope of colours on the morning horizon would give way to a monotone grey sky later that day, but I didn't know that when I went down to the basement to get my Mirage. They lay almost forgotten in a box, unused since Göteborgs Varvet last May. Today was the day I thought I would be needing them again. Today my feet would be needing some help, which I doubted my Kinvara could offer. Today I was going to run 30K.

I wandered around the hallways of Skellefteå's hockey stadium, trying to find the team's head office. I was carrying three bags with me: one containing my camera and a fleece in case I had to drop out, one with my winter coat and a pair of warm trousers and one with a change of clothes and shower paraphernalia for after the run. We were going to run from Skellefteå to Varuträsk, a village around 15km outside the city, where the annual Christmas market was taking place. Once there, we would take an hour-long break to eat and have a look at the goods on display, hence the coat and trousers which would hitch-hike their way there in a car. Then we would run back the same way.

The ground was frozen and all 16 of us ran stiffly, bracing ourselves for a fall. But northerners are tough folk and learn to negotiate icy surfaces before they can even walk. No one slipped. No one fell. People chatted and laughed all the way to Varuträsk, as we left the city and got surrounded by mist and fir trees. 

The long line of parked cars along the road informed us that we were getting close. The Christmas market takes place outside an old mine. Our support vehicle was there waiting for us with our clothes in the trunk, and we went into one of the buildings to put them on. We then split up to look around and to get something to eat. 

The others feasted on hot moose soup (eaten with a wooden spoon, which apparently created a problem for some, when it stuck to their tongues) but I -not keen on moose meat, what with being a vegetarian and all- had brought a peanut butter and banana sandwich which would hopefully give me the energy surplus I'd need on the way back.

It didn't. While I sat there and ate, my body temperature slowly dropped and I shivered so much that I probably burned off any calories I might have consumed. When it was finally time to head back, it only took five minutes before I was warmed up again and had to take my gloves off, but the damage was done. My legs felt fine but I didn't. Maybe it was psychological, but I had to struggle to keep moving forward, and I was certain I'd have to drop out. Then my stubbornness kicked in and I used my old reliable trick of counting backwards. I had run a half marathon! Not even 10 km left! It's nothing! I can run 10 km in my sleep! 

It worked. I forced myself to look around instead of at my feet, trying to take in the view, and talked to people. Time accelerated. Only 5 km left, and the long uphill slope was nothing I couldn't handle. We were running on city pavements now, we were getting close, and the insane runner in me hoped we'd get to the nice, even number of 30 before the run ended. With the hockey arena in sight, I glanced at my Garmin and was happy to see that we would, indeed, pass the 30 km mark. The runner in front of me picked up her pace, the guy by my side followed suit and suddenly there I was, increasing my speed to keep up with them while running up the final hill up to the stadium.

A warm shower later, we were sitting down to eat a root vegetable soup that one of the runners had made and fresh bread that another had baked. As we enjoyed the delicious food on the table, stories were told, races were remembered and Christmas songs were sung. All body parts that have been injured at one time or another were content and silent, and I had just run 30 km. The future looked bright on this dreary November day.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Energy thieves and givers

I wrote in my previous post that I am an introvert. Whereas it's something that I've pretty much always known, I've only just realised its implications a couple of months ago, while talking to J about it one day. I mean, it's not generally something that people discuss, nor do wall flowers take up so much space in society that they warrant so much attention (it would be kind of an oxymoron). I didn't really understand what being an introvert did to a person before that realisation. Understanding it now was a revelation, especially when it came to my work life.

We introverts are not hermits, but we do prefer our social interactions in small doses. Not too often and not with too many people at the same time. Extroverts thrive on socialising. But if by some twist of fate or misguided choice we end up socialising too much, we end up tired. Very tired. And wanting to hide for a while.

I bet they can't find me here!

This happened to me today. I worked in an environment with too many people, and too many social interactions, which was so intense for little ol' introvert me, that I came home with a headache and so completely drained of energy that I just wanted to have a lie down for a little while, maybe for a couple of years or so. Such intense days are energy thieves and leave me exhausted. They push me to assume a role that is unnatural to me; keeping up the charade empties all my energy depots. Just think about how tiresome it would be for you to write with your left hand (if you're right-handed) or your right hand (if you're left-handed). Do it for a whole work day and at the end of it I swear you wouldn't be able to even lift a finger. That's how my head feels after pretending to be an extrovert for a day. Now imagine you have the wrong kind of job, the kind that forces you to write with your ”wrong” hand, day after day, month after month, year after year...well, you get the picture.

I can't help comparing this energy deficit-producing situation to going for a run, something that most people would consider tiresome. I remember how full of energy I felt after my run yesterday, despite the fact that I was aching in my whole body before it. How it put a smile on my face and how it made me feel ready for whatever the rest of the day threw at me. I ran alone. Coincidence?

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Simple creature

Aaah. One of the things I love about running is the hot shower afterwards. Defrosting. Replacing sweaty running clothes with clean, warm ones. Smelling nice. If I were one of those people who oversimplify human behaviour by reducing it to Pavlov dog-like responses to stimuli, I'd say that the prospect of that hot shower makes me drool while I'm out in the cold putting kilometres behind me. That it makes me run a little faster. But I'm not one of those people. Humans are way more complicated than that. As if the idea of a hot shower would make me drool! Now, throw in a good pasta salad for lunch in the mix, on the other hand, and icicles will form down my chin.

It's only Wednesday and I was already feeling exhausted after my Pilates session early this morning. My back has been aching in a dull, annoying manner that doesn't get better by resting. I wondered if I should skip today's planned run to save my legs for Saturday's long run to Varuträsk with AIK. At the same time I wanted to go out for an easy jog. I was inspired by Ingmarie's post yesterday about taking it easy from time to time and just doing what you feel like. So I decided to skip tonight's training with AIK and head out on my own. I took my Garmin with me but resolved not to look at it until I was back home.

Said and done. I let my legs set a comfortable pace that didn't feel tiresome and drifted across bridges and cycle paths. The frozen ground was slippery and I couldn't relax as much as I would have liked to, but it gave me a chance to practice a relaxation method I learned about in my Sports Psychology class. I tensed my shoulders, counted to five, relaxed. This relaxation method (devised by Edmund Jacobson in 1938) is supposed to help you identify areas of your body that might hold a lot of tension, and to show you how to relax them. My shoulders were such an area, and following this method helped a bit. Only tiredness remained.

I loved running on my own. Although I have been enjoying training with AIK and appreciating the benefits of organised sessions -especially intervals-, I had missed the spontaneity and freedom of heading out when I felt like it and letting my thoughts wander without worrying about speed (and I am an introvert, after all - there's only so much social activity I can participate in before I need to take a break). The only thing I worried about was how my legs were going to like it, seeing as they could hardly keep up at Pilates. I hadn't needed to worry. My tiredness was gone. My legs loved it and I spoiled them by giving them a proper stretch when I got home. As a bonus, my back felt better than it had in days. Running: the miracle cure for all ailments.

A couple of days' rest lies ahead. And then I'm rewarding myself for my patience with a 32-km run on Saturday.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Survival of the stubbornest

I wanted to go for a proper long run yesterday morning, and I did. I could have given up but I didn't. I was determined to see it through.

It's not a secret that I'm not in as good a shape as I was around this time last year. In fact, it is the exact weekend that Ultra Intervals took place. Back then, I was able to run a grand total of 80 km in the course of one day. You can read about it here. But that was then. This year around, 20 km leaves me tired in my bones. And that's ok. That's the life of a runner with an ambition to run an ultra again some day. I have to accept that injuries and setbacks will be my constant companions on this particular path. I will have to celebrate the victories, no matter how small they are.

20 km was such a small victory. A good thing about injuries is that you get a chance to set a new PIPR (Post Injury Personal Record) pretty much every month. And you're just as happy each time.

AIK's Saturday long runs take place on trails. I wasn't sure what to expect, as trails for me usually mean uneven breathing, intense concentration on the ground, hard work. The environment more than makes up for it, of course, but I must admit that I like the steady rhythm of road running.

The two guys behind me bringing up the rear were very cheerful, chatting and laughing, and I admired their ability to do all that and breathe at the same time. It was hard enough to watch where I was going, what with the single track being littered by stones and roots and ice patches, but they didn't seem to have a problem with it. I was struggling, and we'd only covered a kilometre or two. I need to work on my trail running skills.

But my body takes a while before it wakes up. I've gotten to know its idiosyncrasies after all these years of running and I know that the first 5 kilometres are the hardest. Then it finally gets what it is I'm asking it to do and -usually- obliges. So it was this time too. Small, frequent steps, lifting my knees high, wiping the wind-induced tears away from my eyes did the trick and I managed to not stumble a single time. I even chatted a little with my fellow runners.

Once we got back to the start, my Garmin showed an underwhelming 12 km. It felt like more, because it had been so intense, but it wasn't. I asked if anyone wanted to run further, and one of them did. We headed up to Vitberget, picking up some speed. This higher speed revealed the truth about how tired I really was. My Body Combat-battered legs felt more like two particularly large anchors rather than motors that propelled me forwards, yet the fact that I had asked for this myself meant that I couldn't quit. I couldn't let my club friend down. Plus, I don't quit. Not unless I'm injured. Maybe that's why I get injured.

When we got back to the parking lot, I had another 5 km in the pot, and was still short 3 km. I looked around me. My running companion had said goodbye and was now driving away. The roads and pavements were covered in slushy ice. The sky was grey. I couldn't see a reason to run in this particular place any more, so I drove home, parked the car and ran the remaining 3 km around our neighbourhood, on pavements and roads that were just as grey and frozen. But at least I was almost home. My legs appreciated the lower speed that I had to keep so as not to slip and fall, and they started sending me signals that they were willing to take me as far as I asked them to. My tiredness was almost forgotten. Still, after 20 km I was back home and satisfied. The test had gone well, I had survived the technical trail and I had set a new PIPR - yet again.

Friday, 9 November 2012

What's a girl to do?

I have this vague memory that I promised myself and the whole Internet a couple of weeks ago that I would take it easy with running for a while and focus on building up some strength in my whole body. I seem to recall actually setting a (rather arbitrary) limit of 30 km per week that I wouldn't cross until this maintenance/strengthening phase was over. I make grand promises like that quite often. I'm the bloody queen of grand promises. Usually when I'm injured and can't run. Strange coincidence.

Then my foot got better and I joined AIK. Now it's Friday, I have my long run ahead of me tomorrow and 27 km already behind me this week. What's a girl to do? I mean, I'd love to keep my promise but the 3 kilometres left in my running account is hardly a long run?

Unless you're Usain Bolt. Or a cat.

Cats and long distance running (and citrus fruit) don't mix

No offence to either Bolt or cats, but this particular long distance runner needs at least 20 km on those runs. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to be able to add 27+20 and find out that it is a teensy weensy bit over my weekly limit. But I feel good. In fact, I feel great. No pain or discomfort anywhere. I guess falling asleep on the sofa at 8 last night and then sleeping until 7 this morning did wonders for my recovery. In fact, the more observant among you might have noticed I never actually specified how long this maintenance/strengthening phase would last.

What's that? I always get injured just when it feels like my training is going better than ever, you say? Quick, let's change the subject!

*crickets chirping*

...aaand I got nothing. All I can think about is how the club has a run planned next weekend, to a Christmas market 16 km from here, and how badly I want to participate. They're going to stop for moose burgers (never mind that I can't eat them because I'm a vegetarian)! And look at all the Christmas tree ornaments for sale! And sip on mulled wine! And then run another 16 km home! It's going to cost me my weekly kilometre allowance but what's a girl to do? THIS IS MY IDEA OF FUN.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012


Kids! Don't do drugs. 13 km under a dark, crispy clear Monday evening sky is better than any drug. Not that I've ever tried drugs, but the endorphin-induced euphoria after a tough fartlek / technique session together with Skellefteå's running club was so overwhelming that I can't imagine many things that are better than that. Not even chocolate.

I guess that means it's official, now that I've outed myself. I've joined a running club. Meaning I can't come up with excuses not to do my interval training any more. The coach will be watching.

Sometimes I enjoy running by myself. Maybe I have things on my mind that I need to process. Maybe I just want to run without pressure, at my own pace. Other times I need to be reminded that I'm not alone, that there are other runners out there who get injured, have dreams and love running, just like me. Oh how I missed the company of my running buddies on a long run.

That is why I ran to meet with Skellefteå AIK just before 7 last night. I started chatting with one of the 12 runners waiting there, and I immediately felt welcome. I had my first invitation to join a lunch-hour run 2 minutes later. There was no ice to be broken here. Not even under our feet.

Coach Kenth explained what we would be doing and we set out on an easy jog to get warmed up. People joked about things, teased each other, seemed to have known each other for years. I felt at home, even though I didn't even know these people. It was the sense of belonging in the great family of runners, having something so simple in common. Then, things got serious. After doing some technique drills, we formed a long queue and jogged on. The last person in the queue then sprinted past the rest of us to become the first person. So we continued for a while, and I gave it my all each time it was my turn. Light on my feet, arms swinging back and forth, eyes focused on the head of this jogging snake. A mix of exhilaration and tiredness settled in my bones, and when coach Kenth announced that we would be running back, I felt relieved and proud of myself. I left the group a couple of kilometres before we got back and ran home instead, as I had already exceeded the 10km-mark that I had planned to run.

And that is the greatest (and only?) danger of joining a group like this. It is so much fun that you might forget yourself and run further than you had planned. Already I am trying to figure out how I can fit even more running into my busy training schedule. I mean, those lunch-hour sessions won't run themselves...

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Guerillas in the mist

I woke up with a horrible headache and the feeling that I was getting ill. I had crawled into bed with a headache after falling asleep on the sofa early last night and it obviously didn't help to sleep for 9 hours. After a hot cup of coffee, I slowly started to feel better. I had a longer run planned for today which I really didn't want to have to cancel. It's not like I've been spoiled with thousands of kilometres this year so that I can take some time off. Time off is more of the rule than the exception lately.

A couple of hours later I was still very tired, but the headache was gone. J and I drove to the misty Vitberget to run a hilly 10K on muddy terrain, and I hoped that my Body Combat-tired legs would be willing to continue on home afterwards.

The hilly 10K went slowly. The snow had melted, leaving only small treacherous patches of ice, which blended in nicely among the grey rock at places. I slipped on such a patch, legs going in one direction and arms in the opposite direction, barely managing to maintain my balance. The hills were not steep, but then again they were endless. They just went on upwards forever. Yes, that's right. Vitberget is as high as Everest. Higher even.

Once we were back at the car, I left J and kept running homewards. My legs were willing. My brain was even more so, believing that it was downhill all the way home. It wasn't, but somehow I still found the strength to keep going, running past houses, traffic lights, bridges. A layer of mist concealed the horizon, hanging low above the river and the fishermen in their boats waiting for the salmon to bite.

While I ran, I thought a lot about how one of the things I've missed the most since I got injured last March is the sense of purpose I had had with my training before that. Don't get me wrong. I run primarily because it's fun. I enjoy the activity in itself. But up to that point I had had a goal, namely to become a better ultrarunner, to build a strong body that could take that kind of punishment and come out the other side unscathed. After my success in Skövde, I truly believed I was well on my way to reach that goal. Now, I'm not sure I can run an ultra again. I'm not even sure it's worth it any more. And that is the greatest loss these last injuries have entailed: the sense that there is a point with what I'm doing. Still, the embers of the ultra bonfire that used to burn bright in my heart are still glowing. I miss those long runs you spend a whole day on. I miss the challenge. I miss the camaraderie. I miss the coffee breaks. Maybe one day soon I'll dare to dream again.

17 kilometres is nothing I take for granted these days. I'm thankful I can run this far without pain anywhere in my body. But is it the beginning of something bigger?

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Empty head

When you are as old and wise as I am, your head is so full of knowledge and information that it just hasn't got space for anything new.

Ok, so that's not strictly true, but it's as good a theory as any as to why I've been intensely reviewing my notes for my Sport Psychology test since early this morning without actually taking in any new information. Why my brain feels like a colander instead of a sponge, letting all the precious drops of knowledge slip away into the drain. Maybe a more accurate theory would be that my brain cells are slowly dying of old age and I get stupider by the day. Not wiser. Yeah, I think I'll stick with the first theory. For my self-esteem's sake.

What I'd like to be doing instead of getting a headache and computer-drowsy eyes is to go for a run. Yesterday's planned 10 km were dramatically reduced to a mere 5 due to ground conditions being extremely irritating. Slush turned my Kinvara-shod toes into icicles and I almost had to stop every time I had to turn a corner so that I wouldn't go off skating sideways on my thigh instead. 

Can't it just get here already? And stay? 

I don't know how many runners I've seen carelessly running past my window while I've been studying. 10? 20? 100? Where were all these fair-weather joggers yesterday, huh? Why are they all outside now when I'm stuck inside? Is the ground bare today? What's the weather like, by the way? I've been in here so long, I've forgotten what day it is. What year it is. What the sun looks like. What weather is. My brain is as mushy as the slush outside. Attempting to get some semblance of alertness in it by drinking strong hazelnut coffee and munching on a home baked cookie (ok, two) was undeniably one of my better ideas. It might not actually work but boy does that cookie (cookies) taste good.

One chapter left to go over and repeat. And I'm trying to remember that there is life (and running) after studying.