Ode to a Not So Bad Run

3 miles is better than 2
14:12 is better than 14:30
45 degrees is better than 34
3 runs this week is better than 1
Feeling that little, tiny flower of empowerment
        rising in your gut through the ash of cynicism and self-doubt
                    is everything.

Recovery has made wax poetic. Not sure why. 

Today was better. My running was better. My emotions were better. My expectation that I might run again this week, that I can get past a “bad run” was better. Just knowing I can get through a bad run helps me get to the next one. 

I’m sure I have many more bad runs in my future. But I also believe they will be followed by better runs. And maybe out there… way, way out there… are some good runs. 

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Beach run

If I didn’t live near a beach, I most likely would never have started running.  Running gives me an excuse to go to the beach in February. 

I love running on boardwalk over pretty much any other surface. I love running in air that tastes salty. I love listening to the waves crash as I cool down and stretch. 

Driving home from NYC after work can take anywhere from 1.5 to 3 hrs, depending on which part of the city I’m coming from, how early I get out, and general traffic conditions. 

The beach is considerably colder than the mainland, and the sun sets very early in winter, so running on the beach is often a matter of timing and luck. 

Even though I was cleared to run for a while, I didn’t get going as fast as I could have/should have. It has been months since the weather conditions and my own sense of timing provided me with the opportunity or inclination. 

Today was the day, though. Weather was unseasonably warm, despite the fact that we are due for a blizzard tomorrow. I made it past the Queens border by 3, clearing my way to hit the beach before the sun went down. 

And so I ran… for sheer joy it seems. 

Cross Train

If I learned anything the past 6 months is that I can’t train by running alone. I need (according to my phys therapist, research, and pretty much anyone I speak to):

  • Alternate cardio (bike, elliptical, walking, etc)
  • Strength train (weights, core work, etc)
  • Stretching/roller

What is this thing?

So today I took a turn in the gym. 17 min on some weird machine I never saw before (like an elliptical but sideways??) and 16 min strength work (abs & legs). 

It is my least favorite thing to do, but I’m glad I did it. 

Wanted: Motivation

horseGetting “back on the horse” (so to speak) is harder than I expected. I will have a few good days followed by days of inertia.  Where did I find the time to run 25-35 miles each week? I barely have time to do a 20 minute run?

So I had a good couple of days, and then noticed that this weekend is Christmas Eve/Christmas Day.  (Of course I knew that, but realizing how this will effect my routines just sort of hit me.)

pie

Don’t be fooled… There will be pie!

I need (NEED) to keep things going. It is crucial to make my workouts part of my routine, even on days I have no routine. So I did something out of character – I invited a group of fb friends to do a fitbit challenge with me. I even gave them the real reasons why. I need to stay motivated in spite of all the holiday celebrations. I need to get my walking and my running in. I need to move my body. I need to eat as clean as possible.

I’m already planning how I’m going to get my steps in tomorrow. 20 min Run, followed by lots of shopping (which equals walking) and maybe walking to my sisters for Christmas Eve dinner, if I can convince my family to join my craziness. Sunday will be harder, but I’m hoping the friendly competition will get me to do what I need to do.

fall7times

Recovery is hard

Between one thing and another I’ve been barely moving the past 3+ months. It wasn’t just my injury: politics, work, and family have had an impact on my soul, and this my activity level. There was a week/ten day period that I ate like my boyfriend broke up with me (he didn’t; you guess which week).

I’ve lost a lot in that time — self esteem, stamina, identity — but I’m ready to get my fight back. Not just in fitness but all aspects of my life.

The past few days I’ve been re-reading my old workout journals to set new goals. I just need to remember that I can’t compare my progress with where I was pre-injury or I’ll just give up.

img_0120-1For example, I’m only supposed to run 20 min at a time, with 1-2 rest days in between. Today I thought I ran so much better than Tuesday only to find I actually ran only 0.1 miles farther in the same time. I was sooo disappointed till I logged on to my favorite fitness Facebook page and was reminded that this was 20 min more than I could do the past 3 months. Then I logged into twitter and saw how many ❤ my recent posts have gotten. So I was inspired to come back here.

I need smaller goals. I need shorter posts. I need to celebrate my successes.
Thanks for giving me a place to lean.

Best Run in Months

OK, to fair, it’s been my only real run in months.

seldenMy last real run was in August. I did a 6 mile hill run that completely undid me. Since then I’ve  kind of lost myself. I tried a number of programs (weights, biking, yoga), but not with any enthusiasm. I’ve been disconnected, easily frustrated, and a bit lost.  What was supposed to be 6 weeks of PT dragged into 12 weeks. I was pretty faithful about attending PT, but kind of slacked off between sessions, not keeping up on my end of the exercise.
The events of early November didn’t help my already sagging mood. Not to get political, but I have lost enthusiasm for pretty much everything.

depressedThe PT, which initially showed promise wasn’t really getting me where I needed to go. Plus the doctors couldn’t agree on the best way to move me forward. One said I definitely needed surgery and it was a wonder I could run at all. Another said those were old injuries, and if I ran a half marathon last year those mangled bones and tendons couldn’t be the problem now. I went the path of least resistance and got cortisone shots in my heel.

At first I didn’t think the shots helped. I still felt all the pains, just in different places, but I renewed my efforts to work on PT and by week 2 things seemed somewhat better. My therapist said we could try a cautious run on the treadmill in PT. That was Monday. She let me run for 1 min, walk for 2 min, run for 1 min, walk for 2 min, etc.  In all I did less than a half mile of running in 15 min. It was both agonizing and exhilarating.  My body felt free, but also in check. It was the best 15 minutes in weeks.

That was Monday… I rested and tested how my legs felt Tuesday and Wednesday, I did a morning run: A little further and a little faster.  As per my carefully planned out regime, I rested Thursday and woke super early this morning ready for my Friday run. I did 10 minutes straight running, nearly making the mile mark.  When my lovely GPS watch buzzed that my time was up, I almost wanted to pretend I didn’t notice, but I thought about all the months and months of PT and thought, “It isn’t worth it.”  I stopped and walked  the rest of the way home.

homerI have to say right now I’m concerned. My calf is pretty tight right now, tighter than it has been in months. Did I overdo it? Did I not stretch enough after? Am I being oversensitive and overthinking it? Maybe it’s sore because I haven’t run in 3 months??

Having said that, running this morning felt awesome. I got more done at work today than I have in weeks, and the people that needed me to clean up their messes didn’t piss me off nearly as much as usual. I even felt better about how I looked. I mean, that’s crazy right? But I was thinking about it. The past few weeks I’ve looked at myself in the mirror and all I could think is negative thoughts: I’m getting fat, I’m wrinkled, I’m out of shape, I look awful… All my body positivity work from the past 3 years has just deserted me.

i-ran-todayToday, I put on a pair of yoga pants and tight top and thought, “Wow, I look cute.”

Seriously…

 

I’d love to tell you want it means, but right now all I can say is I want to run tomorrow. I’m supposed to rest between runs, but really, how important is that?

(Just kidding: I’m doing stretches and PT exercises tomorrow. But I’m definitely running Sunday.)

Deciding Not To Run

maybite

Or burst into tears. Either/Or

Last week I was at a family function and someone asked (innocently) how my marathon training has been going.  I finally spoke the words I had been avoiding: “I’ve decided not to run this year.”  People expressed shock and support and generally tried to be helpful. Have you tried this? Have you done that? I responded with tears. I had to leave the party. I just couldn’t stop crying.

Up until that point I thought I had come to terms with the decision, but realized there was one part left: grieving.

I started noticing the pain in June.  At first it was uncomfortable, especially after a long run.  I’m increasing my  mileage, I thought — of course there is discomfort. That’s normal.

ebibinjuryBy July I was searching for answers. Between talking with other runners and self-diagnosing on the Internet I decided I had plantar fasciitis. I developed a laundry list of cures from creams, to braces, to foam rollers, to bottles of ice. I bought new shoes with expensive inserts. All of it helped a bit, but not enough.
And I kept running.

By August I tried “scaling back.” Running shorter distances. Keeping my mileage low. Taking more break days. But the pain was getting worse, and I wasn’t convinced it was plantar fasciitis andy more.  My calves were killing me, even when at rest. Sometimes my legs would seize in my sleep, waking me up.

“You’re 50 years old,” I thought. “Of course recovery is harder.” And I kept running, but the doubts were creeping in and the marathon date was looming bigger and bigger.

madrunnerAt the end of August I did a 6 mile hill run. I felt fantastic on the run, but the minute I stopped I knew I had gone too far.  For 3 days after I could barely walk. I stopped running for a week. It still hurt. After the second no-run week I  made an appointment with a doctor.

This week he delivered the news: What started as a bone spur caused a number of problems, including plantar fasciitis, pulled tendons, strained muscles, etc. By running through the pain, I had most likely altered my stride and affected everything.  The verdict:  We can likely fix this with meds, PT, & no running for at least 6 weeks.  No marathon in November, but no reason to think that we can’t get back to it at some point.

When I first had the pain, it didn’t even occur to me that not running the marathon was an option. Of course I would run. No matter what.

runinjury1The first time it occurred to me that not running was a possibility was when I couldn’t complete one of my long runs because of pain. I had missed running goals due to fatigue, illness, and general weariness, but this was different. The thought came into my head that I might be doing more damage than good by continuing my run. It was upsetting.

“What if I’m not ready by November?” I thought, but I kept the thought to myself.

Over the next few weeks the thought came back a few more times. I tried sharing it with a few people.  Most people’s responses could be summed up as “Of course you can! We have faith in you!” Others provided more advice, most of which I had already heard before. Their responses were genuinely meant as support, but I started to panic. What if I couldn’t run on faith and determination alone? What if I couldn’t will myself to finish? What if I hurt myself trying and couldn’t run again? What if….

Luckily for me, not everyone tried to blindly bolster me or fix me. My sister and my mother both heard what I was tentatively saying and actually listened. Care for your body, they told me. Don’t put one race above your love of running. They didn’t council quitting, but rather helped me look at the bigger picture. It was terrifying, heartbreaking, and necessary.

therapyYesterday I took the running magnets off the back of my car. BF didn’t understand. “But you earned them?” he protested. “Not running for a few weeks doesn’t take away what you have accomplished” Of course not, but right now it is too hard to look at them. I have to break up with running for a few weeks and looking at those bumper magnets just makes it more painful.  Instead, I need to focus on healing, on finding new ways to stay fit and active and healthy.

 

 

5 Stages of (Running) Grief

Doctor’s orders: 6 more weeks no running.  This was a long time coming (too long). But deciding definitively not to run the marathon is much more traumatic than I expected. I’m still grieving.

Denial – I’m not really hurt. Running is supposed to hurt. That’s just normal pain; I can run through it.

toughAnger – Seriously? Why me! I don’t care what my body is trying to tell me. I can run through this and stop telling me what to do. Stupid body.

Bargaining – I can fix this. Read everything on the Internet and talk to every person I know. Try every “remedy” so that I can justify still running.

Depression – I don’t want to do anything. I don’t want to talk to anyone about running. In fact, I may never run again.
Acceptance – I’ll let you know when I get there.