A friend of mine is giving up caffeine. May the Powers that Be bless her in her attempt because my nerves go into a tizzy at just the thought of such deprivation.
I went nearly a month without Excedrin (or the OTC equivallent thereof) because I had just kept forgetting to pick up more every time we went grocery shopping. I didn't mind because I've been in maintenance mode with my running since Thanksgiving. The second I started so much as to think about uping my mileage to prepare for a Half-Marathon trail race at the end of February, I started to drag. Only after picking up that little green miracle bottle of caffein-y, NSAID-y goodness did everything - from my brain down to my dorsi-flexors - seem to perk back up.
This does have me thinking a little about drugs, dependence, and performance. Studies have shown that a dose or two of caffeine might aid performance and recovery, so to that end I really don't worry that I enjoy my morning cup of joe and my post-workout dose of Excedrin (especially when I have to work at night). What I do wonder, however, is if I can get to that happy, feel-good, go-ahead-and-triple-seat-me-I-just-ran-10-miles-and-I-feel-fine place WITHOUT it.
I fear, the answer would be no. I have yet to even consider conducting such an experiment as my friend is doing right now, assuming that it would end with me drowning in a heap of perceived inadequacies and unfinished laundry. I know that along with helping me run harder and recover, my drug of choice is often the only thing that makes the difference between a productive day and a day when negotiating with a toddler the terms by which she may watch an episode of "Little Einsteins" renders me physically and mentally unable to complete any other task.
I'd be intrigued to find out what amount of self-medication is considered OK when taking into account the demands on a running, working mom. I honestly want to believe (and sincerely hope) that there really is nothing wrong with a couple white pills, or a nightly cocktail, or a Starbucks habit (as expensive as that may be). I take comfort in my routines and rituals and knowing that in a pinch, when my body screams at the thought of ironing my work shirt, let alone actually dragging my feet across the threshold of the restaurant, I have my one little thing that might make it all better. For 4 hours, anyway.
I suppose that you have to know that you can live without it, too. I did go without my happy pills for a month, after all. What's one more workout?
Just don't try to take away my coffee, if you enjoy having all 10 of your fingers.