Feeling Mentally Exhausted by Flora Athlete Ambassador, Mario Mendoza
I’m grateful with how the year has gone. My family has stayed healthy, I was able to set two treadmill world records earlier in the year, and jump into an actual race recently. I have always been a very positive person, even during difficult times. This year with a pandemic started out no differently. We can do this, we can get through this together, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
But then it finally hit me. I think it was the combination of the bad wildfires we got at the end of summer and the overload of despair stories that I hear constantly from the people I work with. I hit that day in the fall just feeling completely done. I noticed my runs were not going well, I lost motivation to train, and just felt pretty drained most days of the week. I scheduled some labs thinking I’d find the culprit in the blood values. Turns out I’m actually very healthy right now. I have the highest scores of iron, hematocrit, and hemoglobin I’ve ever had (thanks Floradix).
Then I realized I’m actually experiencing mental exhaustion. I first noticed it with my inability to focus on my hard runs. My mind would wander to all of the issues happening and the problems I needed to solve. I couldn’t focus on the simplicity of the run, even when I was breathing hard and wanting to set some personal records. I’d get tired quicker than normal and just could not dig deep. Research shows that mental and physical exhaustion actually decreases endurance. It’s amazing how synchronized the mind, body, soul need to be to perform well. Being in a ministry job that requires constant giving, I found myself in a place I’ve never been before.
I know that not taking care of my mental health can lead to some really serious problems. So the first aspect of it for me was making my wife aware that I needed to find more rest for my mind. That I also needed to not take everyone’s burdens on my shoulders and not expect to meet everyone’s needs. I know I still have a ways to go, and things I need to cut out until I feel like myself again. But it feels a lot better to be addressing a problem instead of expecting it to take care of itself.
I’ve been more careful with making sure I am sleeping well and taking my Sleep-Essence. I know that is not the full puzzle but it certainly helps create progress. I hope I can finish out the year well with another race or event, but I am putting health as a priority and turning this around. I wish everyone the best and hope we all feel safe enough to ask for help when we need it.
Mario Mendoza was born American but grew up in a Mexican culture with immigrant parents. His passion is to build community between the two cultures. Five-time USA Trail National Champion, four-time USA Trail Runner of the Year, three-time top American runner at Trail World Championships, the platform he feels the most alive in is mountain running. A runner, a pastor, a speaker, but most of all a husband, Mario loves to connect the lessons and stories from endurance racing in the mountains to the race that every person is running in life.