Saturday, March 27, 2010

Reflecting, Remembering, Pushing Through

Over the last week in the absence of adherence to 'The Plan' I have had more time to be annoyed with my body. I did some research and identified multiple reasons I am in pain, and to put it bluntly, this is all my fault.

Although I have been running for over two years, I forget how much I don't know about things like running form, stretching, and the long list of ways terrain can hurt me. I feel like I should know these things simply because I, like others who find themselves in a body they cannot trust or count on, have become so attuned to the voice of my body; an awareness that comes from living in a shell that for so long I did not have control over.

This week of pain and not running reminded me so much of the months I spent holding my breath, waiting for my body to turn on me. Again (and again, and again...) for so long I feared my insides would light up on scans because things I couldn't feel or control were happening in there. Not to mention all the other smaller betrayals; at the most awkward time my stomach would decide it didn't want to keep food inside, I would spike a fever, accompanied with sweats and chills the night before I had to take a test, rendering me a sleepless zombie. This week, I was reminded of that helplessness. Not being able to run made me feel just like I did when the treatment monster occupied my body, holding me captive.

The longer I felt helpless, the angrier I got, and the angrier I got, the more I felt empowered to take back my body. Not being able to run is not the same as treatment, I can fix my body this time. With a new found motivation to push through, I started reading articles online and I located a book to guide me through the transition from casual runner to half-marathoner. Now I am beginning to learn how much I didn't know.

Armed with knowledge, I see that I have made a step in the right direction, getting new shoes. Now I also have an arsenal of stretches to do after running, and a name for the pain in my knee (Runner's knee...How appropriate!). I learned that I should not stretch before I start off on a run. I need to warm up, then stop and stretch. As I continue to heal my shin splint and this case of runner's knee (who knew?!) ice packs are my new best friend.

I ran today. I took a flatter route that is a road not traveled by cars, allowing me to stay in the flat center of the road. (Running on the left side of the road all the time creates an uneven plane, resulting in pain and injury to the right knee.) I also took it easy, listening to my legs. They were whining, but not screaming for me to stop like the last time I ran. I think my body and I are back on the same team. Maybe we were all along. Maybe I just wasn't listening to my teammate as well as I thought I was. At any rate, I am back on the road. Like I used to say when things were tough, "I am NOT a quitter."

Hope. Love. Run.
Marathon Girl

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Update on the 1/2 Marathon Training

I successfully finished my first full week of training, however I have also developed a shin splint in my right leg and with it, a pain on the side of my knee that I haven't ever felt before.

I had a shin splint once before when I wore out my first pair of running shoes a couple years ago, and shin splints are annoying and painful. I did a little research, hoping I could blame this on my shoes again, and thank goodness, I could!

I've been wearing the running shoes I got in the fall to do kickboxing, Zumba, cardio-dance, and all the other classes I did all winter instead of running on the treadmill five days a week, and it turns out that wearing running shoes to do all those things, and then expecting to be able to run long distances with them, is just not what they're designed to do.

Because Nike discontinued my shoe of choice, and I wanted to make sure my $100 was well spent on a pair of shoes that would be comfortable, I took the advice of one of my more athletically experienced friends and made a little road trip to Aardvark Sports Shop in Bethlehem, PA. The store has salespeople who can fit customers with shoes that are right for their feet. They did a good job and even let me run around the store to see how a bunch of different shoes felt. I ended up with a pair of Nike Air Pegasus. They happen to be pink, an added bonus, as far as I'm concerned.

So as I sit on my bed typing this, a bag of frozen corn icing my shin splint, I'm hoping I'll be out hitting the streets again soon. My head and heart are in the training program 100%, now if I can only get my body on board too!

Hope, love, run,
Marathon Girl

Who am I?

I'm just like you. Since you're here, we probably have something in common. I consider myself a 'born again' runner- I didn't participate in many sports as a child, in fact, I was usually the kid who was picked last for just about every activity in gym class.

So how, you might ask, did I end up running long distances? I had one of those Oprah 'Ah-ha' moments. When I was twenty-one years old, I was diagnosed with cancer. I spent the next year undergoing a non-cycled treatment that made me feel like I had the flu; the longest, god-awful, twelve-month flu you can imagine.

I can't tell you a specific day for the 'Ah-ha', but some time between when I started the flu-drug and when I stopped taking it 365 days later, I developed a jealousy toward people who ran, cycled, and even did things as simple as walking their dogs. I made a promise to myself that if I ever were granted the use of a functional body, I would never, ever take that gift for granted.
Five days after the 365 day flu was over, I drove to the nearest YMCA and joined. That day I couldn't walk a mile without getting winded, but eight weeks later, I ran my first 5K, a Thanksgiving Turkey Trot.

I have run half a dozen 5Ks since then, among them two additional Turkey Trots. I've also taken up a slew of other sports and physical challenges, mostly because I can, but also because I feel so lucky to have a capable body to try all these new things. Despite my flirtations with other activities, running has been my one, true love all along. So now, two years and four months after that first race, I am training for my first half marathon.

I'm always training for life; it's a marathon. And every run is my victory lap. I hope you can say the same.

Hope, Love, Run,
-Marathon Girl