My Own Worst Enemy

Written by Ann Brennan

I am my own worst enemy and always have been. I think it comes with the confidence I have that if something needs to be done I can surely do it. But, maybe confidence is the wrong word. Maybe being my own worse enemy comes with the knowledge I gained as a child that if something needs to be done, I have to do it. The knowledge that I was the only one I could count on.

Over the years, having married an incredibly selfless man, I could have let go of this. I could have allowed him to take more of the load, but I think some things are just so ingrained in our being that they are hard impossible to shed.

So, I work. I do. I move. I am.

After my second daughter was born I allowed this belief that I was the only one who could take care of things to drown me in depression. Instead of telling my boss and my co-workers that they would just need to figure things out while I was on maternity leave, I went back to work only ten days after the birth of my daughter. Almost a year later, I finally realized the mistake I had made but only after weeks of insomnia and months of depression.

Over the sixteen years since my daughter’s birth I would have told you that I had learned to let go and let others help me but I don’t think that is quite true. Instead, I have just not found the same opportunities for stress that were there when I worked a job I hated and was trying to raise two children under the age of three. Things have just been easier for me since that time in my life.

But I didn’t see that. I began once again to believe that I was Wonder Woman. I could do it all. The twenty weeks of training leading up to Ironman were such a high point in my life that I began to believe I was unstoppable and although I knew there would be a low after the race, that I would experience the inevitable post-race blues, I began to believe that I could avoid them by continuing to be Wonder Woman.

My plan, the plan that I developed, was to take a week off of training, rest and recover during that week and jump right back on the bandwagon, this time focusing on working faster and harder. This plan was flawed to begin with. After twenty weeks of training I needed more rest and recovery. I needed time to get my life back in order, not just physically but my home, my family and my work. In the month leading up to Ironman I had begun to let things slide – in my home, in my work and in my volunteer activities. Those things had begun to pile up and instead of resting that first week, I began to take care of those things the minute I arrived back in Maryland.

Then exactly a week after the race I began to train again. I began to push harder and worse still, I began to restrict my food intake to try to drop weight. I began to push myself too hard and too fast and finally discovered that I am not Wonder Woman. I am not unstoppable, because my body is the boss. My body knows how to stop me. Last week, with a sore throat, headache and fatigue I was forced to take a step back and admit that I am my own worse enemy.

For a week now, I have not exercised. But that doesn’t mean I have rested. Instead, I have taken care of my house, my kids, my work and I yet I wondered why I am still so tired. But this morning as I began to wake up I realized that I am ready to give in. I am ready to let today be a rest day, a real rest day. I am ready to listen to my body and let someone else be in charge a little. This fatigue will go away. The workouts will be there waiting and I will still be on track to accomplish my goals.

I am not Wonder Woman but I am Ann Brennan, a mom, a wife and an Ironman. I deserve a little rest and recovery. I have earned it and at last, with a little prodding from my body, I am taking it.

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About Ann Brennan

Ann Brennan is first and foremost a mom of three beautiful children. She is the managing editor of Beyond Limits Magazine and the creator of Ann’s Running Commentary. In 2012, Ann took Ann’s Running Commentary to new levels – first with a segment on the RunRunLive Podcast, chronicling her journey to her first Ironman and second, with a new channel on YouTube. Currently Ann is working on a non-fiction book series and working hard every day to remind people to get up, get active and get out there.
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6 Responses to My Own Worst Enemy

  1. Barb says:

    Minus the Ironman :) this same thing happened to me last month. Fever, sore throat (turns out to be strep) and more yet I kept pushing and running and doing. Finally after feeling like I’d been run over by a train I gave in. I went to the doctor. I spent a couple days resting, napping, ignoring the tasks that take up my day. I felt guilty at first and then realized I should have slowed down earlier. It’s hard to admit that we need rest, real rest. You have more than earned it and I’m glad you’re embracing it. You’ll be stronger for it (and not just physically).

  2. I’m (too) good at taking time off after a big race. The Ironman is a REALLY big race! You deserve your off season. When I ran the Vermont 100 a few years ago, I was happy to take it easy. And STILL I was surprised just how long it took before my body really recovered fully: a couple of months before my legs wanted to do anything fast or long. So, you shouldn’t feel bad about it if it takes longer than you think it should.

  3. rice1077 says:

    I ran my first trail 50k almost 2 years ago. I had run my 1st marathon 3 months earlier, moved, and gotten the flu during that time. A week after the 50k, I got up and planned to run 15. I got about 2 miles in and realized it was not happening. I was not enjoying myself and it just plain sucked. So I walked back to the car and went home. Me & my husband went to brunch something we hadn’t done in months. It was the best brunch ever.

  4. Great post Ann!! Although the stories are slightly different, there are parts of your story that most of us can identify with. I’ve never done the ultra long stuff that you’ve done, but after running marathons and riding century rides, I don’t allow myself rest. I tell myself that I’ll just ride easy, I won’t go as far and I won’t worry about pace. But then I find I start getting depressed, concerned, angry because I can’t ride faster or farther. For a bunch of supposedly smart people, sometimes … not so much. Rest up and you’ll be back out there in no time!

  5. MichelleO says:

    Great post. Like the first poster, minus the IronMan, I have been overwhelmed with sickness and life in general. I took a week and gave myself permission to not think about running, cleaning, volunteering and doing only what was required for work. I started back today, running a little slower, being a little more productive and picking up one dirty shirt. Recognizing that we are not Superman or Superwoman may be the most powerful super power!

  6. abbi says:

    So many of us can relate to this!

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