Saturday, February 9, 2013

The 5th Emotion

I am not, by any means, an expert on emotions. I am, however, well read and a very careful observer. Based on volumes of literature and years of experience, I'm pretty sure that there are only 4 emotions: Happy, sad, frustrated, and hungry. In most instances, the latter is widely accepted as the driving force for the other 3.

(Aside: Some journals also list a sub-emotion, known as horny. It is believed to be a concurrence state of happy and frustrated. Recently, testing protocols during those experiments has been called into question. Whereas scientists agree that horniness exists, as evidenced in countless You-Tube videos of spring break (of which I have NOT seen, just for the record) (please don't ask me how I know about those videos that I have not seen) (keep in mind that I am, like I said, well read) the question is whether or not the condition is an actual emotion or simply a character trait controlled mainly by the Y chromosome. Others believe that they have found the horny gene on the X chromosome with a magnifying gene on the Y, using that hypothesis to explain why males are more... Anyway, the debate is very polarized and consensus is not expected any time soon. End Aside.)

Early Friday morning, I awoke earlier than usual with a funky pain in my chest. I am, for all intents and purposes, not very old in terms of expected heart problems. Not wanting to rule it out, I took my pulse. It was sitting happily in the upper 40s. No beats were skipped. Using that highly sophisticated system of diagnostics, I quickly ruled out heart attack, stroke, and knife to the thorax as possible causes of my chest discomfort.

Now that my interests were piqued, sleep was not about to return. I got up and did some research. My first order of business, for some reason, was to look at my training log. Training can be an incredibly powerful tool, but it can be destructive as well. I didn't like what the log was telling me.

I'll note that the Banter-in-Law and I have been recently having a pseudo- run competition for a couple of weeks now. I'm not sure who's winning, mostly because I don't have a copy of the rule book. Despite repeated attempts to order one from Amazon, I have failed miserably at obtaining a clear description if the winner is declared by the sum of miles over the duration of the competition period or if the winner of this week gets a point and the miles are zeroed at the beginning of a week.

To further complicate matters, the BIL and I disagree as to when the week actually starts. I posit that the week starts on Monday since Saturday and Sunday are commonly referred to as 'the weekend' and training blocks are combined efforts on these days. The BIL is quite Gregorian in his definition and prefers to allow the common wall calendar to control on what day his week starts. Even the Bible states that the week starts on Monday but this evidence means nothing to the BIL. Again, debates like these are highly polarized and rarely is a consensus formed. Which is why I need a copy of the official rule book. Which is why I have a complaint email out to Amazon customer service.

Regardless of how you interpret the rules, the competition is pretty close. I believe that our weekly mileage over the past couple of weeks is similar. In the head-to-head competition, I have won just as many weeks as I have lost. Things are heating up, unless you are looking at my weather forecast.

This past week has been a little different. Not only have I been trying to run more, I'm taking the overachiever line of adding more bike trainer time. Ideally, I'd be getting in simple saddle time. Since I'm doing my work on the trainer, simple saddle time sucks and I've replaced cruising with intervals. And when doing intervals, the Ego Gene takes over and I have to go hard. And, over the course of 3 weeks, I went from 3 rides to 4 rides and now to 5 rides this week.

On top of that, I've been running 7-8 times a week. This is more running as I have ever done in a week's time in both frequency and mileage. One day, about 10 days ago, it was 'warm' outside (40s) and I went hard. My legs were still smarting a couple days later. On Tuesday of this week, I did my usual trainer ride in the morning. It was tough. I canceled a run due to muscle soreness and replaced it with a glass of wine and Big Bang Theory reruns. On Wednesday, I did my a.m. ride and a nice afternoon tempo run. On Thursday, I was scheduled for an easy short run but replaced it with a date with the Wife.

When I looked at the log on Friday morning, it's clear that my brain has subconsciously come to the conclusion that I will only be getting in 6 runs this week and losing about 8-10 miles as compared to last week. This was a hard pill to swallow. After hitting PubMed, I came across a study found in the Journal of Obscure Medicine that lists, what scientists believe, is an actual 5th emotion: Guilt.

Guilt is triggered by the release of guilt-inducing hormones that flood the brain and body. Hypersensitivity to the environment is common in patients suspected of guilt. Here's the worst part about guilt- it creates an additive, negative cycle pattern of thought. Once you start to feel guilty about something, you think about it more often. Which leads to more guilt. Which leads to more thinking. Then, you start to feel guilty about feeling guilty. Thus, the cycle is amplified.

Even in the JOOM, they list that in most test subjects, guilt lies in direct conflict with logic. This was certainly my case. Logically speaking, it was a good idea in taking time off. My legs recovered well. I was able to hit my targets during my bike rides. My subsequent runs were smooth and comfortable. Six runs with 30+ miles is still darn good. I had a great date with the Wife. There was nothing to feel guilty about. But, like most emotions, there really is no point in arguing.

After learning about this new emotion, of which it is clear I am capable of having, I needed a solution to my problem. I needed to stop feeling guilty. I did what anyone else in my situation would do. I went for a run. And, just to make sure, I tacked on a couple of additional miles from the original plan. I didn't erase the guilt completely, but it did lessen the blow. I slept well of Friday night.

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