This evening I thought it would be interesting to track down as much data from previous runs that I could find and compile them onto my “Running Journal” spreadsheet. It would be neat to see how well I was running ten years ago, I thought. I remembered that I used to use Runkeeper for my runs, and managed to log in and, much to my surprise, discovered that Runkeeper does, in fact, keep you runs!
But what I thought would be fun turned into me watching the run data align with my depression. Which is not fun. The data begins in 2012, which is about when I started to get into fitness stuff in general. Weight lifting and all that. Back then, I lifted weights way more than I ran, so I didn’t have a lot of data — only 22 runs in 2012 and 30 in 2013, minus the two or three runs I did that were completely garbled by Runkeeper’s GPS.
These were the years I was in grad school. I didn’t have a job, didn’t need a job due to Obama’s “training unemployment,” and thus could spend my days in class or bettering myself. Which I did. The small amount of runs in 2012/13 paled in comparison to my lifting schedule.
I graduated in 2013 and then did some temp jobs for a bit, until getting hired at the law firm where I currently work. Gone were the carefree days of plays and rehearsal and weight lifting classes. Now I had a Big Boy job, a 9-to-5 if you will, even though no job is 9-5 anymore.
Maybe this is related, or maybe it’s not, but for some reason in 2014 my mental health took a nose dive. To this day I am picking up the pieces of whatever shattered my brain in May of that year, and then ground the pieces into gravel in August, when Robin Williams killed himself. And you can see it in the running data, where I went from 30 runs in 2013 to eight. And one of those is probably a walk. Eight/seven runs that abruptly ended in August.
2015 is worse: seven runs, all of them part of a couch-to-5k program I attempted in October. My motivation was in the toilet. It looks like 2016 was going to be different; I began in January, dropped off a month, but then got my ass in gear in February as I was running the Shamrock Run that year (my 3rd go). I then did a Zombies, Run virtual 5k a couple of weeks later. But after that, it dropped off, and after May there were no other runs that year. It didn’t help that we were kicked out of the home we rented because the owner was going to sell it. In a daze I rented a cheap apartment out next to Gresham, way on the east side of Portland, which … was not a good idea.
For some insane reason I decided to run the Shamrock Run in 2017 and 2018. But that apartment on 174th destroyed my spirit. It’s one of those things that I knew but didn’t know at the same time; the feeling of living alone for the first time in my life was nice, but the fact that I was so far away from my friends and nature was soul-sucking. I missed walking among trees. My house before wasn’t in the forest or anything, but the neighborhood was nice enough. This new apartment was surrounded by concrete and bland buildings and gang activity and it was just not great.
The good news is that I was still getting steps in. Frequently at work on my lunch breaks I would go for a walk, and then the walks to the train and to home were helpful too. At this point, my exercise data is limited to Google Fit, which kept track of my steps. Runkeeper was out in 2015, and Zombies Run was largely abandoned with the 5th Shamrock Run.
Then came the pandemic, and I guess that was all I need to slide into some kind of bottom. Not rock bottom (I’m thankful that I don’t think I’ve ever hit that point), but a new low which included barely moving and having copious amounts of food delivered to me via DoorDash. My weight had already been increasing steadily since 2019 but it ballooned to its highest point at that point in my life — 307lbs. This weight didn’t last long, however, as this is also when my neighbor started being psychotic (literally, meth induced psychosis) and targeted me as someone who was doing something bad to him, which caused me to stop eating and lose around 20lbs in two weeks. Not a diet program I recommend!
Fortunately, I was able to break my lease early and leave ASAP, moving to my current and infinitely better apartment in June of 2021. Immediately my step count jumped from 22,000 in May to 60,000. I even started running again, restarting once again the couch-to-5k program, which I did for a few weeks until getting plantar fasciitis from being too sedentary and heavy. I relegated myself to walking for the rest of the year.
My weight ballooned up again at the end of 2021 and into 2022, reaching a new PR or 308 in late August. August was also the month that I decided to really invest in walking; I walked everywhere, all the time. I was ramping up all through the year, but went from 70k steps in July to 123k steps in August. And then, two months later, I was starting to run again. Last month, I had 210k steps; this month I am at 204k and still have six days to go.
What did I learn from this? I guess I learned that it’s hard to see depression when you’re in it. For many years I was in a heavy brain fog (I honestly think I was missing some key vitamins then) and it was only after the depression that I could look back on it, but I couldn’t, also, because I didn’t remember it. But the data never lies, and will tell you the truth, whether you like it or not.
I learned that I am still here. I still went for runs. I still tried, until I didn’t, but even then, I did. I kept myself afloat, despite the sadness and the dark days. I’m doing it now. I am making up for those four years in east Portland. I am moving and progressing.
I also learned that I have NEVER gotten below a 10 min/mi pace and barely got below an 11min pace and that is driving me nuts.