I have rarely felt hopeless in my life. I can’t even remember when was the last time I felt hopeless.
When I first traveled to Seoul, I read a quote by a Korean actress in the newspaper on the flight: “When you feel down, there is nowhere else to go but the top.” I was very inspired by the quote. Since then, I have always motivated myself to feel hopeful about every situation, however difficult the situation may be. I am a driven person and I almost always try and achieve everything I have set out for myself, despite difficulties. I find that adversity is my best friend – I end up redeeming myself in adverse situations by standing up to them.
Currently though, I have been experiencing hopelessness. Every little thing I do – whether it is a goal I have accomplished or a milestone reached – I feel hopeless, as if nothing is going to change in my life and I will continue to rust and rot. I am not sure what is the source of this feeling. When I think over it, I feel it is the distance between me and my PhD thesis that is causing this state. For over a year now, I haven’t worked on my PhD thesis. Each day that passes by reminds me that I am moving farther and farther away from something I had set out to do which I haven’t accomplished. I feel a constant source of pressure inside me, the pressure to get out of my present situation and take charge of my life. But then, I feel hopeless because I feel I have no control over my life and that I am simply drifting from one day to another. I am not sure if this is what it means to feel hopeless. And if this is indeed hopelessness, I now realize what it means for another person to feel similarly.
Running to lose hopelessness: Over the past few months, when I have tried to wake up in the mornings to go for a run, I have felt hopeless. I go to the park and begin to feel that I don’t know how to run. Then I start, unsteadily, and pick up and feel happy about the fact that I haven’t lost touch with running. I feel calmer after a run. Next day again, I wake up in the morning and tell myself I don’t know how to run. And I fall back to sleep. I have been very erratic with running in the past few months.
I started running this season in the hope that I will lose some of the flab that I have developed over the last one year, and regain fitness. It hasn’t been a great start to this season. I have already missed training sessions. I also realize that the training schedules are now designed to be more challenging than they earlier were, perhaps because many of the runners are continuing from one programme to another. If I lose even a single day of training, then I have a lot of ground to cover and that may be bad for my weak muscles and knees.
I also set myself the goal to be a strong finisher by training this season. By this, I mean that I literally finish strong. Often, when I run, I pick up pace and motivation in the middle of the run. But, by the end of the run, I get tired. I am panting and my breathing is terrible. Resultantly, I end up walking most of the last leg of the runs and then somehow push myself to finish. I feel I end up doing this even when I start a new writing project. I get anxious, I tire myself out and then I don’t end up with a happy, strong finish. So I thought that trying to establish this as a goal may change my present mental and physical state. When I ran by myself on Tuesday, I started with the same feeling that I don’t know how to run. But by the last lap, I was actually pacing well. That made me feel good about myself.
This morning, I again woke up feeling hopeless. I felt I wouldn’t be able to be do the run. At the venue, Kaiwan announced that the 10k runners had a bonus of an extra kilometer. This meant I’d have to run 6 kms instead of 5. I was already feeling terrible and this announcement did not make me feel any better. I thought I’d barely be able to finish the run because I felt I was not in the physical state to move from 3k the week before to 6k this weekend. I had bad attendance in the past one week because I was stressed with trying to finish revising a research proposal. I was skipping runs because of the stress and anxiety. Overall, I was only miserable most of this week.
The run began. I kept telling myself that I will not be able to finish it. I ran with few breaks in the first three kilometers, perhaps because most of the run was downhill. I managed the first two uphills decently, but noticed that I wasn’t able to lift my feet off the ground much. Perhaps this is because of the glute problem that I have or it could be because of the amount of weight I have put on at my hips and thighs. Or, it could also be because of my bad breathing patterns which make me feel heavier each time I lift my feet off the ground. I don’t know the exact reasons. I’ll have to run more to find out.
On many days I avoid doing the runs because I feel very uncomfortable during the runs – I become anxious, I feel tension building up in my neck region and muscles, my face and ears become hot and my head is hot to touch. By the end of the run, I sometimes feel nauseous and I am gasping for breath. These are aspects that I am trying to improve by running and trying to accomplish the goal of finishing strong.
In the second half of the run, I was terrible. I walked the first uphill and then I walked every uphill I came along, instead of making the effort to run. It wasn’t a strong finish, even though I completed the distance. At the end of the run, I did not end up feeling happy. I continued to feel hopeless. But one thing that did occur to me when I was doing the foot drills was that perhaps this is a good time to lose all the handles that I have on life – everything I have learnt now needs to be unlearned so that I can let go and start afresh. I am not sure to what extent I will be able to accomplish this unlearning. It requires letting go of ego, living in the moment and being introspective only when necessary.
For now, I have this much to log. Let’s see if I can motivate myself to run tomorrow.