Running And The Art Of Surrender

surrender

 

“Hey, how’s the running going?!” a friend inquired of me…..

I wanted to blab something like… “I’m training for a 100 miler next” or “I’ve got a couple marathons on the books”… heck I wanted to say I was doing the local 5K Bubblegum run… anything…something.

Instead my response was…. “it isn’t” and my blah, blah, blah that I’m still tethered by an ugly injury.

I shared with you, my lovely readers, in a post a few weeks back that my sports doctor told me ( again) it’s insertional Achilles tendonitis. I had been doing some (light) running and it got no better and no worse, and so like many runners  I had this ( stubborn) mentality, “if it’s not gonna get better, flip it, I’m running.”

But after seeing sports doc and his “no running” at the top of the list…

I had to take a hard look at some things. If I wanted to get old with running I had to surrender.

It’s funny, in the beginning, when one starts running, there is a surrender. You surrender to a call, a pull, to be on the road. You feel the desire to go longer and farther. The surrender of your body to push more…to reach deeper in yourself… in that surrender… you find yourself out there on the road.

In the dark early mornings. In the sunset runs. In the hot and cold. In joy and sorrow.

If you’re a runner, you know what I mean. It’s a surrender to yourself..an abandonment.

I guess I had an epiphany the other night.

Let’s call it the other side of surrender.  The “ok, I give in. I yield. I will do what I have to do. I surrender my plans, goals and visions…for now”.

I surrender.

Because if I want to grow old with running, and if I want to get out there and have another shot at a 50K, or train for another marathon, or work on kicking my speed up to drop my 5k time, I have to surrender to the time it takes to heal my body properly. I surrender to the fact it could be a long time until I can run again without the injury being an issue.

And with all that in mind… I will do what I need to do.. and I am. In fact, on some levels I can feel a difference already. And even though my heart longs to run, my body is being kept busy doing other things.

I’ve been spending a lot of time on my bike which gives me the miles and exhilaration I crave. That’s not a bad thing ’cause I want to do a duathlon someday ( a run, bike, run event).

I’m doing a lot more strength training and being careful to stay away from any activities that will irritate or cause it further stress. I’m icing, stretching, rolling my legs and feet a lot more.

Andddddd I’m super excited over my new cardio activity that’s coming to me….

I got a rowing machine (thank you amazing hubby who supports my athletic endeavors 🙂 rowing is a kick butt intense cardio workout that will fill in the gaps for me while I’m not running. It’s also non-impact/ stress on the tendons and joints so it will be perfect for me while I’m healing. I intend to spend some serious time on it.

When I get back on the road, my body will be strong for the task. Yes, I’ve already faced the frustration that it will almost be like starting over, but, if I’m at the point I can run, I will happily start building myself up again.

I did it once. I can do it again.

So for now, as hard as it is, I surrender to the process believing in the long run ( pun? 😉 it will all be worth it.

What about you happy reader? Have you ever had to come to a point of surrender in your life ? Was it worth it ?

embrace

 

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Running, Passion, And Vision

Running. I just feel like talking about running.

Maybe because I was out for about 4 miles yesterday morning and I was reminded how much I love it. And how much I miss it. And how irritated I am with this stupid injury that seems to hold me back from the potential I know that’s in me.

I’m not talking about my injury in this post.

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I want to just talk about the joy and freedom I have in the act of something so simple that we’re all born to do.

How do we lose the ability? the desire? the joy? of breaking into an open run, feeling our bodies surge under us as our legs kick in and the scenery goes flying by ?

When do we become to old, to tired, to lazy, to disinterested to run like kids ?

But then sometimes, later on, we stumble back upon it again.  We gingerly test out the legs and find out they are still capable of performing that task.

For myself and many others, once again, we find ourselves embracing the joy of running in sometimes an often child like way.

Just for the sheer joy and beauty of being able to do it.  

 

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To feel the wind and sun in your face or the bite of a cold morning .  To embrace being out in the dark for a long run or doing speed work that makes you feel just a little bit …crazy for doing it. The feel of your heart beating strongly and your lungs deeply taking in air, sweat forming on your body, the sound of your feet against the road.

To nail a 20 mile run…  and actually enjoy the tired ache of your body…. and the victorious feeling in your mind of accomplishing it.

Maybe the thing I’ve loved about running is how you’re always competing against yourself and how you can always step up your game… just a little bit more……

Running has been good to me.

In the beginning, it was definitely helpful for weight loss. In time, it began to carve and chisel muscles in my body I had only formerly thought existed.

It became my time to think, roll creative ideas through my head, process life, let anger and frustration out, and sometimes, it allowed me to cry and grieve at some of the agony in my life.

Running became my passion.  I didn’t see it as a chore or something to be endured, but a gift and a privilege to be able to do it.

I laugh and love it when my friends tell me I’m crazy or nuts, or make all those silly runner jokes.

You  know why ? I LOVE doing stuff the majority of people around me aren’t doing.

As time went on and my distances grew from short 10K runs, to setting my eyes on a half marathon, then full marathons, it never entered my mind that, I , little old me, would be a distance runner.

Seriously????

Yet, one thing led to another. A bigger challenge. A new goal. A new opportunity to challenge myself to something beyond my comfort zone.

Needless to say when I set my sights on a 50K last year, that was an adventure that had many asking me if I had lost my mind.

And trust me, if I allowed myself to slow down to much and reallllllyyyy think about it… I too began to see the insanity of running that many miles. And not just that race, but all the training that led up to it, all those training miles under me to get to that point.

Things like that are best not looked that close in the eye.

That’s the deal when you’re a distance runner. You don’t think. You just do it.  You get out there, let your body settle into a rhythm and you just…. go.

And besides all those things… besides getting strong and healthy and fit and being called crazy… running makes me feel ridiculously…. alive…. powerful…..strong…. confident… and makes me feel like I can take the world on.

I don’t think that’s a  bad thing, do you ?

So my struggles right now… it’s hard… so hard being kept in check physically with a injury that just won’t….be gone..

And wrestling with my mind that knows what my body is capable of, has done, and wants to get back to doing again…. is well… sometimes torturous.

I miss it in the worst way.

But get this… I don’t give up easily. And my mind is plotting and planning and anticipating all it wants the body to get back out doing.

Goals. New adventures. New chances for my friends to tell me I’m crazy and insane. New opportunities to prove to myself I can do something bigger and a little more fierce.

In between times, I’m tearing up the road on my bike with long miles and lifting heavy things to keep strong… and keeping my eye on growing my running distances.

Passion. It’s a good thing to have in life, right ? We all need to be passionate about something… it makes our heart beat fast and invigorates us … hopefully it challenges us as well making us feel alive.

Tell me… what’s your passion? What makes your heart beat fast and makes you feel invincible ?

new goal

 

Running, Recovery, And Rebellion

Hello World =)

Ok so I really want to write fun, happy, feel good Christmasy stuff for you… and I will…. ’cause it’s the most wonderful time of year 😉  but I’m gonna share a little more about running and specifically my struggles these past few months about getting back on the road again.. and my recent stint doing some Airrosti treatments.

Perhaps my sharing might encourage some of you who are battling a sports injury and struggling or maybe I can  offer some helpful recovery ideas for you crazy athlete people out there.

I think the frustrating thing these past few months has been trying to nail down exactly what the issue is that’s plaguing me. Going to an Airrosti sports therapy place was kinda like my last ditch effort to see if I could miraculously get fixed.

I mean come on… they promise to help you be better in a couple treatments… it was hard to pass on trying it.

One thing I had heard before I walked in the door from people who had gone were that you could expect pain. Ok whatever… if it helps let’s do it.

After getting my history I was on the table with the nice sports doctor doing some crazy things to my feet and calves… and yes… there were moments of total pain that I honestly stopped talking and reverted to using breathing that I did during childbirth.

Yes. There were moments of pain that intense.

Fortunately, it was short lived 😛 After my time with the nice doctor I was ushered over to a sweet young lady who worked with me on stretching, foam rolling, and other foot and ankle exercises.

I’m a runner. I know the benefits of foam rolling. They just were taking me to different places with the whole rolling thing.  I was finding out about all these places in my body that need stretched and worked ( toe exercises???)

In the past few weeks I’ve learned more about the inner workings of my body ( muscles, fascia, tendons etc) than I ever knew. Y0ur muscles are all sorta wrapped up in this fascia stuff and it can get knotty and tight and bind to your muscles…. that’s the fun stuff they were working out… and teaching me how to really work, stretch and manipulate it at home.

I’ve never thought much about my feet running. I know they take a pounding and I put them through a lot but until I got injured, I honestly never thought about it.

Ahhh…. what you learn to appreciate.

Anyway, after they finished working on me, I got taped up, and actually it felt pretty amazing. The tape acts as a gentle support to the joints while allowing for freedom of movement. Not nearly as constricting as an ace bandage 😉

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KT tape is like a constant soft hug. Can I have someone always do it for me ?

 

I got some great tips….

For example, instead of the bag of peas I was using for icing, they told me about ice cups. Literally, little Styrofoam cups you fill and freeze,  then cut the bottom half of cup off after frozen ( the upper part you leave on and as your insulation 😉 I then rub this on my feet, heels wherever I need iced. It’s a little messy but feels amazing.

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Peas.. aren’t just for eating anymore 😉

 

of course other things to get in those tight places… a lacrosse ball can really be worked into the arches of your feet. I use it while I’m getting ready in the morning just rolling my feet out on it.  And a rolling pin isn’t just for making cookies baby… you can roll out areas that are harder to get to with a traditional roller.

A resistance band is great for small movement exercises. Ahhh it’s way harder working small little muscles than things like your glutes or quads!

Yet, as mentioned I’ve learned a lot about key roles these muscles play in my running and they need specific strength training too.

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Some simple tools to work small tight areas on your body

 

Now rolling…. specifically foam rolling. Nothing feels better on tight muscles. I was quickly informed that they would be getting me off foam and onto a pvc pipe for rolling… that my muscles would adapt to foam and not the get benefits they need from rolling. I laughed and informed them that was gonna hurt.

That’s pipe people! No give to it at all….

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Top: my standard foam roller. Bottom: my new roller. Yes, it’s PVC pipe.

 

 

I was informed when you play hard, you gotta work at keeping everything maintained well. Intellectually, I know that, but like I said this was such an education for me to the inner workings of my body beyond what I knew. She tells me, “you know, like your car? How you maintain and do stuff to it to keep it running well?” as an athlete you need to remember you need to do these things to your body to keep doing what you’re doing”

Just when you think you knew a lot… and were doing all the things you were supposed to… you learn more!

Ah… yes… I understand… but I just wanna be over and done with this.

At one session when the doctor was working on me and we were talking all things running and he was asking me about what got me into distance running and I was sharing a bit of my story and then I told him….

“well, I ran a marathon, two half marathons, and a 50K within three months the first part of this year. I’d rather know I accomplished that and invested myself into the discipline of training and running them than doing nothing and wondering if I could. I’d much rather take some knocks from hitting goals than sitting around doing nothing.”

He agreed.  When you play hard, it’s almost inevitable at some point you’ll get whacked with an injury.

I guess that’s where the rebellion comes in . I want to be back out there. I want to be pushing distances again and intentionally training for races. I’m not patient when it comes to this thing called a recovery process.

The treatments helped, yes. I learned a lot to use in the future for specific running recovery.

Am I over my issue? No. It antagonizes me, flaring up and then settling down again.

It makes me feel rebellious. It makes me want to fight back even more, to get stronger, to be able to do more.

Determined and head strong aren’t bad things when they motivate you to do what needs to be done to get back doing what you love full speed.

I’ve slowly and carefully worked myself up to 5.50 miles with my next goal being over 10K.

Close so close.  From there I will set another small goal.

I’m learning I can’t just sail in from my run, do a  little stretching and scamper off, but to take time to stretch my muscles  really well from the workout they just went through. I’m learning to set aside time to ice my heels ( they kept stressing over and over how good icing is for injuries)

I have my sights set on a spring half marathon….I’m hopeful…. =)

Tell me… in the ways of treatment do you get frequent sports massages? Have you tried Airrosti before ? What things do you to stay sane and get through a total recovery process ?

Making An Impact

I love new reading material almost as much as I love getting my hands on new music. There’s something about diving into an untouched book or magazine that I love.

Geez. I’m a nerd.

That being said, the only magazine I subscribe to ( no surprise) is Runners World. It’s always loaded with info I find useful as well as amusing. I love reading about elite runners and soaking up what they do and implementing whatever might work for me.  Of course there’s always some inspirational runners story that makes me feel proud to be a part of the running community.

This month I’ve been reading with avid interest as it features “every day, ordinary” runners.  They had a big contest you could throw your name in the hat to be the cover person for this months edition.

I contemplated it. And didn’t.

Oh I have in the past, and was blown away when I was selected to be a part of the Dec 2012 “Runners Body” feature ( you can read that in another post) it was an amazing experience to work with a professional photographer and be photographed in such a way that showed the strength, power, and athleticism of my body.

Some of the winners selected for this months feature included cover winner who lost over 100 lbs. running and how her life has been changed, others who have overcome great odds, some run crazy numbers of races and miles, they have battled through diseases, abuse, and emotional trauma.  They train, teach, inspire and are these beautiful shining examples to the people they are around.

Running has been a sanctuary, a place of healing, hope, and strength for them. I read these stories and cry. I get inspired. I dream bigger.

That’s when I think…. “yeah, now I know why I don’t toss my name in to those competitions. I’m just so… ordinary.”

I haven’t done or experienced the things these people have gone through.

I mean, yeah, running let me drop the weight of a hefty toddler and I do relate to it being a place I go to for thinking, stress release, peace, and my personal escape.

But the thought came again… I’m just…so… ordinary.

However, as I thought on that and reflected on those stories, things started coming to my mind…

All the times people have messaged me, responded to this blog, or talked to me in person to tell me that I inspire them. To keep doing what I do because it motivates them to DO something…. to make changes, to get moving, to be strong, to make better food choices, to be the best “me” they can be etc.

When my crazy running posts have people wanting to go and try running. They ask about shoes, gear, and how to start. I share from my meager education on being a runner. I rejoice when they really start embracing it.

When someone tells me they finally signed up for  a race. Best feeling ever.

Or comments that if I can be out ( running, cycling, or whatever craziness) they too, can get out and do what they need to do. I remember a friend messaging me to tell me how she was struggling through her workout and she remembered seeing my post that I was doing 28 miles that morning. She said  “remembering you were out running, I told myself if you could do that, I could get my workout done!”

When I counsel/mentor/encourage someone and they “get it” and start on their health and fitness journey… and start walking that road of freedom…nothing feels better.

Like… nothing.

That’s when I realized…. I might not ever make it in a magazine by doing something “spectacular”  but I am making a difference in my personal world that I live in.

Being me… in all my odd, fun, weird, non-conforming, quirkiness doing what I do….does touch and impact lives. I don’t have to be anyone else or do what they’re doing.

I just need to be me and use the talents, gifts, and abilities that God has given me and that can make an impact in the world I operate in.

You too, my faithful 1.5 readers, never underestimate, the impact you have in your world.

You can inspire, encourage, build up, and challenge those around you =)

Tell me…. how do you inspire or encourage in your personal world ?

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On The Road Again, Sorta

Did the title of my blog just generate that old Willy Nelson song in your head ? It did mine. Please… please…make it go away….

Ok… on with business… I’m talking about… me… on the road…  running….finally… well sorta running. You gotta start somewhere and sometimes you gotta start small again, right ?

If you read a previous post of mine, “Not Running Sucks” you might remember me sharing I was sidelined with a diagnosis from my sports doc that I had insertional Achilles tendonitis. That’s a mouthful isn’t it ?

Ugh. My first running injury ever.

But hey, play hard, invest yourself into something 110%, getting hurt is a part of the game sometimes. In my opinion, it beats sitting on the sidelines, right ??

So I got the instructions from doctor… meds, icing, rolling the heck outta my calves/Achilles/hammies, modified exercise (no running) but I did get to spend a lot of time on my bike which was a second substitute for NOT running. On other days, boxing and strength training were my friends.

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No, I’m not cooking. These are runner recovery tools 😉

Overall, I guess you can say, I’ve been an “actively” recovering runner =)

Last Wed. I went in for my follow up with him to see how my 6 weeks had gone. Long story short, he gave me his blessing to hit the road this week. His words… “ok my ultra girl, we’re gonna start off short and sweet, no more than 1 1/2 – 2 miles to start”

*** the running gods were smiling down on me ***

Ok, I’ll take it, although secretly I had been thinking 3 miles would be a good first run back out….

You know I took the full two miles, don’t you ? 😉

It felt nothing short of amazing slipping into my running gear that morning, putting on my shoes that I only wear for running, strapping on my Nike watch knowing I’d use it for my mileage and not just for time, and then going through routine stretches and warms ups before I took off.

I had already given myself instructions… 2 miles… add in walking… no pushing hard, easy, easy pace… listen to my body.

With my first step, my heart was singing.

Being out with the sun coming up, the road under my feet, the wind in my face ( even though it was a lovely humid Tx morning) feeling the familiar response of pulling a hill and my body responding and doing what I’ve trained it to do….. priceless.

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Messy, happy, sweaty runner girl. First run after 2 months off ? Delicious.

I returned from my 2 miles sweaty and feeling amazing…. thinking I could still continue on… but knowing I still need to be careful and let my body adapt and not stress it with to much.

My goals are small at this point. I want to add another 1.1 miles to those 2 so I can be in at least in the 5k zone again.  I have plans for that distance 😉 I also know my days running in a week will be few for awhile.

Right now, if I can do that, stay injury/pain free then that’s a major victory. I know I might have to adjust goals I had for end of year ( marathon) and I’m not even sure of a half at this point.

However, I DO have a new challenge on my radar screen and that’s all I need right now. ( I will share more about this later)

So, yeah, not running DOES suck. I hate not doing it. I miss it. ( someone… when I’m better… and knocking out a 20miler…remind me I said this haha 😉

I want to remind you, my faithful 1.5 readers, whatever obstacles you might be up against right now, you can always find another way to continue to get you to your goals.

Oh, and being a little stubborn, persistent, and hard headed don’t hurt either  =)

Anyone ? Anyone out there up against any obstacles they are working to overcome right now ?

Off Season

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We’re gonna talk sports stuff…..athletic(y) things…. you are forewarned.

I never understood, or totally got the whole “off season” thing. I  mean, I understood my favorite basketball games came to an end, or that football came to this great culmination in February that sometimes left grown men crying and gnashing their teeth and we entered the off season which meant the TV wasn’t blowing up with the current games.

After a season was over the athletes were off to Disneyland, right ? Easy, breezy do nothing for months? Not so fast….

Even when I got into running a few years ago, I heard about it, but never grasped it… or honestly thought much of it.

I mean… I run all year long… rain… sun…heat…cold…snow… (well maybe not snow …what’s snow ?? 😉

Enter this past year… and my running….. which has been the most intense since I started. I’ve crashed as ungracefully into off season as a fawn standing on new legs.

The term is defined by Webster’s in this way: a time of suspended or reduced activity; especially :  the time during which an athlete is not training or competing.

So, my training started last August with my goal for a December marathon. You may have read in an earlier post that I turned 50 last year and decided to run a 50K sometime in my 50th year… to celebrate…… haha and I found one this past March.

I slammed out the marathon in December, took it easy through that month, and had to commit fully by January that I was going to do the 50K.

My thinking was my training was already up there, might as well keep on towards the 50K.  Training ramped back up this time with Saturdays long runs getting longer, and ultimately one Saturday just a flat 5 hour run which put about 28 miles under me.

Then came March…. the culmination time for all my training…. two half marathons and a 50k to wrap the month and put the icing on the cake.

My mileage came slamming down like your speed when you see a cop.

I moved through April really letting my body just relax and focusing on other activities I enjoyed. And then this pesky heel issue that came up seemingly outta nowhere really helped me keep my mileage down to….nothing….

I did 3 miles Tuesday and 4 today… trying to keep it easy….it just felt so good to be back out there.

This is when I got it. For the first time in the 5 years I’ve been running I’ve really understood what it means to go into an off season.

My spring races are done.

I might do some shorter 5-10k during the summer but my next “real” race will be a December marathon.

Training will kick up for serious in August.

I love training.

I love planning out my runs and having them written on my running calendar. Perhaps I just love the absolute structure of it and the feeling I get writing those miles in after I do them. Not to mention, in a weird way, the feeling my body has after it’s worked really hard….

I won’t lie that it gets to be a high when I start putting some big volume miles in… which might explain the withdraw feelings I’ve had from it. I also love the lean hungry look I get from all those miles 😛

I know this time down is essential and necessary for my body to get stronger and stay healthy. It doesn’t mean I won’t be running it just means seriously reduced mileage. I do want to keep a good base long run of 12-13 miles so my mind stays in that zone. I feel that (for me ) it’s so mentally important to keep engaged with those numbers.

Here’s what I do know. Off season  doesn’t mean no training. It just means training differently, smarter, with a focus to build and strengthen my body to take on the rigors of fall training again.

I’ll be spending more time on my bike, lifting weights, boxing, doing body weight work and if I can apprehend one somewhere cheap, a rowing machine ( doesn’t that sound fun ?? 😉 oh yeah, and of course a few running days thrown in.

I will learn to embrace off season in a positive way and look for new ways to add to my training… which actually in the long run…. builds a overall better, stronger and more fit body.

Ok, my fearless 1.5 readers, anyone besides me have to come to terms with this idea ? Let me hear from you and how you handle it =) Do you have an off season ? Or do you just move through the year with your workouts ?

running gift
And a most precious one…..

50K’s, Color Runs and Mud

OK… this is my disclaimer to this post… it’s meant to be a fun thought process/commentary and not meant to offend anyone who enjoys the following events… ( you should be hearing this in like a…. Morgan Freeman voice 😉

I’m semi-squinting at the screen ’cause I had my eyes dilated today and it totally makes me feel awesome  jacks with my head the rest of the day/evening. I look like an owl for the next 24 hours….I’ll do my best to keep typos and such to a minimum 😉

I came into running all the wrong way.

I wasn’t a school track athlete. I wasn’t a trendy 20 something wanting to be cool and do the “jogging” thing in the 80’s.

The idea of running for the sole purpose of… running….. was a completely foreign concept to me.

But then as I’ve shared with you in other posts, it just kinda evolved, and then, one day…

I’m a runner.

I was a runner who was popping off 6-7 mile runs as the normal routine. I mean, isn’t that what you did ? I was happy in my new little running world oblivious of things like intervals, and tempo runs and hill repeats or being happy with negative splits (what was that ??)

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Hills anyone ?

THEN….. one day… a well meaning friend said…..

“You should run the Rock n Roll half marathon in November”

I laughed. I told her other people did it, not me.

And when I stopped laughing she said, “well, you’re already running over half the distance.”

That was June and by July I had committed and was officially registered for my first half marathon.

I trained myself and took it on in November. I couldn’t believe I actually ran 13.1 miles.

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Tired and scraggly after my very first half marathon in 2011. And I gave up running in these types of shorts a long time ago….

I’ve learned a lot since then. I follow a structured training plan now (thank you Hal Higdon) I’ve learned lots of running terms, become particular about what I like to run in, and learned how my body responds to various things.

I also learned this: most people start with a 5K as a first race…. not a half marathon… haha

Like I said….. I came into this running thing kicking and screaming    in not the most conventional way.

All this to say, I’ve taken what I do pretty seriously since I started. I’m intense and every run matters to me. I am horribly competitive with myself…. and hard on myself to.

When I sign up for a race, I’m serious about it. Yeah, I get the world won’t stop spinning based on my performance, I’m still kind of intense about it.

That competitive thang…..

Which brings me to these other “runs” that are cropping up faster than weeds in the spring time.

Color Runs, Foam, Neon, Music, Inflatables,  Zombies, Mud, Obstacles……

I’ve been invited to participate in them all. I haven’t….yet….

Why?

Can I breathe this out loud ?

I guess, that serious, competitive part of me is focused on running and so many of these seem like a big party.

Nothing wrong with that. People running happy in costumes, snapping selfies, no worries about PR’s or negative splits. Running is in addition to other stuff going on.

This is what I decided one day. I fall into the “serious” runner category…. not the play category.

I mean someday I’d like to do a Tough Mudder or Spartan runs… that let’s  your total athletic self  get used…. but then I think… what if I injured myself in mud…or on a barb wire fence 😉 it would mess me up running.

See? Serious runner.

As a runner, I’ve tackled multiple half marathons, two fulls, and a 50K run this Saturday.  To me, personally, these aren’t fun and game distances.

When I mention this to my fun running friends they get this deer in the headlights look on their face and laughingly tell me……. I’m crazy.

Maybe I am…. I kinda prefer the word…serious though 😉 although, crazy IS  a pretty cool compliment to a runner…..

What do you think? If you’re a runner do you consider yourself “serious” ?  or do you just like to go do something fun and playful? Do you see a difference ?

Have you ever done a fun run ?