Saturday, August 29, 2015

It's not JUST about running..... Thank god.

A couple of weeks ago I got an email from someone asking to speak with me for an article… for the CHICAGO TRIBUNE! Once my brain got over the initial shock and I began to process this idea, I of course emailed back and said SURE!

Then I became paralyzed with fear

Then I started practicing what I would say (I had no idea what I would say)

Then I started to get sick with nerves

Then I took a deep breath and said, “meh, I’ll just give it a shot and try not to make a total ass of myself”

When I finally got on the phone with her, she immediately freaked me out more when it became obvious that the article wasn’t necessarily about running. It was more about failing…. Gracefully. She said that she read the Runner’s World article I was in and really liked my attitude.

Oh crap. I can talk about running until my head falls off, but nonrunning stuff? Uh oh. It turned out she was delightful to talk to and it wasn’t worthy of my millions of panic attacks. And it helped me remember that it’s not all about running all the time.

Running is something I LOVE! It’s my meditation, a struggle to overcome, a routine, it’s my friend, my enemy, and it’s brought some absolutely wonderful people into my life. But it’s not always about running. Working through my current health issues has made it clear as a bell that there’s more to me and my life than running. Thank god.

I think there is a fear in every obsessive compulsive runner’s mind of, “what would happen if I couldn’t run?” I’ve entertained the topic briefly; however, recently I had to look that topic directly in the face. And it’s been good and bad.  Good because I’ve done projects I never had time to do! We finally put flooring in that room that we ripped up the carpet in 4-5 years ago! I sorted through my clothing and books! I started working on meditation to deal with my horrible stress management skills. I found out I LOVE walking. And I’ve found that I can be completely satisfied with a 4 mile run even if it is at a 15 minute mile pace. I think I got so blinded by ultras and MORE MILES ALL THE TIME that I forgot how lovely a 4 mile run can feel. It’s been bad because I hate not knowing when I’ll be better. I can’t stand the fact that I’m not doing a fall race because Fall races are straight up magic. I feel completely disconnected from the running community that I love so much. Because, well I can’t really run much.

I've been forced to find out what I do when I’m not running all the time. Frankly, it turns out I sit on the couch a LOT. I’m working on that. Running has taught me a million life lessons, but I’m so thankful to realize that I don’t have to be running 30+ miles a week to appreciate them. This article in the Tribune helped remind me that there is more to me than running and it’s not ALL about running all the time. I guess this opportunity came at just the right time.

Read it here:

Thursday, August 13, 2015

It's always something....

For three weeks I’ve done nothing but walking. My doctor had begrudgingly given me permission to go to an eight hour race I had signed up for as long as I was smart about it. I realized that was not a possibility (you know, being smart) and even decided not to go to THAT! He was thrilled by my grown up decision. And as the mandatory three weeks of only walking came to a close and I started to get nervous.

Is three weeks enough?

How do I know if it isn’t working?

How do I try to be a sensible runner? (turns out that people that run ultras don’t tend to have a good gauge on sensible)

Will I remember how to run?

I came up with a game plan or at least something that resembled a game plan. A few years ago I started running by the Maffetone rules. Don’t know about it? Check out this link:

It’s what I used while training for my first 50k. It was one of the most excruciating (you will NEVER run up a hill) things I’ve been through. But, I felt GOOD after my runs, I saw marked improvement, and I ran with more comfort and confidence. That was a couple of years ago. I went back and took the test again to figure my Maffetone heartrate. With my new age and shiny new injury history, I was horrified at my low low low low low did I mention low target heartrate. Forget hills, will I be able to run at all on my runs while trying to keep my heartrate THIS low?

Reality check… I have to be SMART when I start running again. If a heartrate alarm (that I actually listen to) keeps me in check, then I need to do it! ARGH! LOGIC! I really don’t want to screw up the progress I’ve made because my dumb brain wants to go back to the dumb habits of ignoring my body’s signs (or red alerts as the case was). So, low heartrate it is!

And today, with my heartrate alarm set, I set out with my pup for three miles expecting to do a little running and a lot of walking. And the weirdest thing happened….

The running that I did was super fun and duh, of course I didn’t forget how to run. What kind of dork has that thought? Oops. But the weird thing is…

I immediately started to mourn the loss of my morning walks.

What? Who would have expected that? Tell a runner not to run and they will make up a thousand reasons why it’s ok that they run. And typically they will ignore doctor’s orders and run anyway. I did when my doc said no running for 3 weeks. But, when I committed to walking, I realized, I really like it! I’ve been walking with one of my dogs in the wee hours of the morning. And I’ve been stargazing and sunrise walking and really enjoying the stillness of the predawn hours. When I ran today it was so different! I couldn’t just crane my neck back to look at the stars and all of the sudden I remembered I need to be wearing a headlamp if I’m moving faster and everything seemed so different!

Where does that leave me? Well, I’d say that I suppose I should try to find a way to enjoy both things (I mean aside from the fact that I’ll still be walking a TON during my runs).

Did the run go ok? I think so, but I’ll have to try to pay attention to how I feel in the next few days to get a real handle on it. Baby steps….. Slow baby steps…. At a low heartrate.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Want Answers? Be careful what you wish for....

Has it really been that long?

I started running in 2007 and once I started, I never stopped. I think that the longest I took off from running was after my first marathon when my coach FORCED me to take two weeks off to recover.

And here we are….

I finally went to a doctor that listened to me and I finally got some answers. Turns out all the symptoms I have been dealing with are a thing (validation!). I’m hypothyroid, anemic, and I’m low on LOADS of nutrients. So we’re working on putting Humpty Dumpty back together again. And in the meantime I was given a few rules (he would probably want me to call them guidelines)

1.       No weightlifting for an as yet to be determined amount of time.

2.       No gluten 

3.       Only one cup of high quality coffee a day (ugh, I really love coffee).

4.       No running for three weeks.

What? No what for three weeks? But but but but…. But he’s right. Give my body a bit of time to actually heal and let the stuff we are doing work instead of bullying through it some more.

The next question, of course, was… can I walk? He said yes. And then the next question was…. But like how LONG can I walk because I’m a person that runs for ten hours at a time for fun. Of course, he laughed, shook his head, and said…. An hour.

Welp, there you go. I was entering unknown territory. Because what the F do I do when I don’t run all the time? And then I had a friend put it into perspective

“OH this is great because you can take some time off without feeling guilty. You won’t have to worry about stupid crap like… oh I should be running. Or oh the schedule says I have to do this so I better get out there even though I feel like crap and it’s 110 degrees with the heat index”.

Is it that attitude that got me into this mess? I don’t know. But I’m making it a goal to make the best of this vacation from running. Last weekend, instead of a long run, I went for a walk with a friend and her four month old baby! My husband and I ordered the flooring for that room we ripped the carpet out of at least three years ago. My kitchen counter is clean like more than once every two weeks! I’m reading a book! And I don’t feel guilty when I’m tired at the end of the day and all I want to do is lay on the couch with my dogs. I just do it.

Of course I’m already plotting my comeback. But my comeback involves things like listening to what my body is actually saying. I guess I’ll see how this all plays out, but for right now, Persistent Runner has become Persistent Rester/Walker/Relaxer.