Experienced runners know it. It comes on slowly, it creeps up gently in you, sometimes your body has found a reason not to want to function as it did before: the runner’s low is here.
And suddenly nothing works anymore.
The great passion of running becomes a problem because it simply doesn’t exist anymore.
1000 reasons can play a role in this. Injuries, illnesses, operations, or simply a mental low. The pandemic has paralyzed many, it has done something to all of us, more or less. Germany has become fatter, on average each of us has gained five to seven kilos.
Pulmonary embolism was a ‘killer’
I would never have thought that this “hole” could reach me one day. And yet it came. In my case, unfortunately, with an announcement. A pulmonary embolism in August 2021, it came out of nowhere. And she was heavy. So heavy that I couldn’t walk anymore. And didn’t want to either. The impact was just too intense, both physically and mentally.
When your life is suddenly in danger, a lot changes. At least that’s how it was for me. I struggled to get back to running, I didn’t have any fun doing it. Every step felt somehow wrong. But something inside me said: keep going, your good form before the embolism saved your life, doctors said. And so I kind of kept going. Regular, but far from normal. It was reason alone that helped me a little.
With Corona came the second precipitation
Just walking slowly out of the first valley, my body stopped me again. The corona infection caught up with me too. Doctors would certainly classify it as a mild course, I felt miserable for myself.
Extreme heart rate fluctuations made it impossible for me to run. I was just getting back into the flow a bit, and a lousy virus threw me back. The lesson learned from August 2021 was: take it slow. don’t whip yourself I also had and still have great respect for Long-Covid. Above all, I urgently wanted to avoid the risk of heart muscle inflammation.
So I prescribed myself some formative training. And that started 14 days after the illness with walks. Something inside me said over the months: You mustn’t stop. Keep walking. Run free like ten years ago when you ran free from the valley of kilos and cigarettes. I remembered that the first few months of 2012 were terribly difficult. Only iron discipline and unconditional will led to lasting success.
How I made my breakthrough
I was particularly annoyed that I was able to completely throw my January 2022 goal overboard of running every day. A whole year long. My own streak running challenge was actually necessary for my psyche to completely leave the pulmonary embolism behind me. To forget their physical and mental effects. Just the fact that Corona took that away from me was a challenge.
Again, the setback had put me in a situation where I completely lacked the motivation and the fun of running. And again my inner voice told me: keep going! Don’t stop. One day there will come a point when things will work again. And as if by itself. And so I ran on. Without desire. It was a must. No more. The breakthrough came two days ago.
My dog gave me the most important moment of running
On that day I made the decision to take the somewhat older livestock guardian Bilbo along with my two young dogs who love to run. He pushed his way into the door frame to signal me: I want to go with you! You take me with you, kindly! I will forever be grateful to him for this sign. During my twelve kilometers I kept looking at him. While the puppies romped wildly, Bilbo ran beside me, enjoying the wind and sun, accompanying me step by step. I could see on his face how good it was for him. Running and being by my side
His protective and positive energy could literally be felt throughout my body. And suddenly, halfway there, he came. The moment I had waited for so long. He was just there. The true happiness of a runner flowed through me, I increased my speed and stopped. It felt like “it’s finally alright” as Bilbo nuzzled my leg. He sat down. I petted him for a full ten minutes, and walked back with him side by side. It will probably remain the most important running moment in ten years. More important than crossing the finish line in a marathon. Bilbo was the trigger for my inner comeback. And I’m so looking forward to this afternoon’s run. Whatever hole you’re stuck in, please keep running. Even if it’s hard. I’ll send Bilbo to you in my mind! That’s how it works.
This is our running columnist Mike Kleiss
Mike Kleiß has been doing sports since he was a child. “Those who exercise achieve more” is his motto in life. Running was always his favorite subject. For seven years he has been running between 15 and 20 kilometers almost every day, often in marathons and sometimes in ultra marathons.
So far, our columnist has published two books on running. He is the founder and managing director of the communications agency GOODWILLRUN. Mike Kleiss lives with his family in Hamburg and Cologne.
Here he shares his experiences as a runner to motivate others to jog.