An attitude of gratitude

I’ve really let things go.  In a funk and lacking creative energy of any and all types, I’ve let things with my blog slide.  I kept thinking, “Surely I have SOMETHING to write; something that isn’t reminiscent of Ambien’s effect to readers; something a reader might hang around to read at least five or six sentences of, right?”  Despite my attempts at psyching myself up to get something written, it just never happened.  And what I’ve learned over the past few months of not writing a post is that thinking about what could be, what you think should be and what you want to be just isn’t good for the psyche (running, blogging or otherwise).

You may or may not recall me lamenting my injury from my last post (well, if you don’t because it was eons ago, I was being a whiner).  And since then, I walked out of a foot doc’s office minutes after just having received a cortisone shot from a needle larger than I care to remember and knowing my foot injury may someday require surgery to repair, at least I had an answer that really made some sense in light of this eternal recovery time.  Armed with my cycling shoes, iPod, loathsome (and ever-shrinking) swimming suit, and goggles, I was prepared to continue cross training as needed while testing my super-medicated foot with the occasional trip to the treadmill or trail.

As luck (and possibly some patience… just maybe) would have it, I’ve managed to slog (that’s slow + jog) along for five miles twice now!  Much to the approval of my mother, boyfriend, coach and a former college professor, I’ve taken things with running slowly and I’ve been pain free.  Okay…99% pain free.  (Having just celebrated a milestone birthday, I feel wiser and in that newfound wisdom, I believe I also found a quarter-ounce of patience.)

I’ve tried desperately to forget that I was once fit enough to routinely cover 20 miles in just Imageover two-and-a-half hours (something like the blur of a girl in the pic there on the right was probably able to do).  (Note to self: I’m going to work on my photo collection.  I hope my food likes being photographed.)  What remains in my feelers, when I cannot manage to forget that little nugget, is not 100% pain free. (I’m not good with feelings and emotions and all that gushy stuff, so let’s call all that stuff “feelers” for now.)  Frustration.  Disappointment.  Desire to do more and do it better and do it all NOW.  None are warm or fuzzy.  Then, there’s that sliver of gratitude, I suppose.  After all, at least I am able to run.  Plus, I discovered two things: a. I enjoy other forms of activity and I don’t completely detest swimming and b. all of you aqua life stuck in human bodies simply amaze me with your patience, endurance and determination.  I don’t know how you do it.  (Can you hear me sighing in awe?)  Kudos.  Let’s blame the Thanksgiving season for that sliver of gratitude, okay?

After considering those feelers a second time, I realize I’m grateful for much more than my ability to run.  At times, running is solitary and isolating.  Despite the seeming oneness of the sport, runners require a support system unlike most other athletes and that alone deserves recognition, thankfulness and ovation suggestive of your last child’s college commencement.  Without accommodating, understanding, caring and empathetic family, friends and teammates who are willing to give themselves saddle sores to keep me company on 20-plus-mile long runs (thank you, Mom, Abby and Kevin), to pick me up on my slowest days and to tell me I’ve just conquered the world on my fastest ones (thank you, Ann G.), to endure my somewhat strange eating habits and pre-race rituals, to change their schedules to match my infant-like sleeping habits and to leave my half eaten pieces of fruit undisturbed until I got around to finishing them (sorry, Mom), I likely never would have achieved my running goals.

And here I am, barely able to cover five miles without seeing the heavens open, beckoning me to escape the pain (aka each run is a near death experience) and all I can think of is how immeasurably blessed I am to have these people, this collection of encouragers.  And without them I am nearly positive I would trade in the painful road back to fitness for the comfort of the couch and a few French fries, having given in to the negativity of what could be, what should be and what I want to be.

Whether your goal is to get off the couch or to complete a 5K or a marathon that is still months away, don’t overlook the fact that you are ABLE to do these things, letting the could-haves and should-haves blur into the background.  Equally important, recognize and give thanks to the Moms, Abbys, Kevins and Ann Gs in your life.  Celebrating successes is much sweeter when you have someone(s) to do it with.

Now, share a turkey trot and [split] a piece of pie with your partners in endurance torment.  Happy running!

Booted & frustrated

Let’s start at the beginning…

The months preceding October 8, 2011 were marked by tempo runs, progression runs, long runs, interval work, lots of foam rolling and fewer ice baths than I should’ve been taking.  It looked good on paper, but just didn’t feel like the best race preparation I’ve ever had.  The Chicago Marathon arrives, I feel less than prepared, but try to convince myself that everything will be fine.  Two hours and fifty-nine minutes later, I realize that no matter what, you CANNOT convince yourself to run a 2:45 marathon if you aren’t prepared to.  Bummer.

Leaving the race in a ball of frustration, disappointment and tears, I took a break – the usual post-marathon rest and recovery.  With a renewed drive and fire, my coach and I decided that I could at least shoot for the USA’s B Standard in the 10K.  Things were going well – workouts were good, my legs felt decent, long runs were long but not too long, I was healthy and feeling strong.  Ya…things were great until that little pain in my foot started in early February.  Little pain turned into BIG pain despite my efforts to will it away, as most runners might.  Three miles into a four one-mile repeats workout on a cold winter morning, I felt the pop.  Stinking pain in the ball of my foot forced me to a staggering limp.  Did I shut it down, call it a day and speed home to tend to my ailing foot?  No.  Instead, I made the second of dumb decisions (the first was trying to will the foot pain away in the first place) – I finished the workout, then hobbled home.

Weeks of limping and zero improvement on the pain scale, I FINALLY saw the ortho.  Stress fracture. Fantastic. Boot. Even better. “I’ve been through two stress fractures before,” I thought, “It won’t be that bad – 6 weeks in a boot with lots of cross training and I’ll be running again.  Just a hiccup.  Things will be fine.”  Ha! Fine? Hardly.

Fast forward to today, nearly September and I’m STILL mobile only by this ugly, filthy, smelly boot. What’s the lesson?  Oh there are several.  First: use your best judgment when it comes to aches and pains.  You know when it’s minor and when it’s major – the major ones deserve your respect and attention.  Second: pushing things as you try to hold on to the fitness you’ve got can be counterproductive, prolonging your injury and keeping you from what you enjoy much longer than it should.  For those of us who feel it necessary to get that workout in, good luck finding another way to use up that energy ;-)  It may be time to take up a hobby (until you’re fully recovered anyway).  Quilting, anyone?  Third (and possibly most important): don’t let training rule your life.  Too much focus on one part of life leaves it out of balance and when the part that gets all of your energy and attention isn’t going well, it can seem like nothing is going very well.  Work on developing all of those aspects of life that are imperative to happiness: relationships, intellect and spirituality.

Remember, patience when it comes to recovering from injury isn’t easy.  Try it out anyway :-)  Six months into this injury and I still haven’t found my patience.  I’m sure it’s lying around here somewhere…

Welcome!

I’ve been running for over 10 years and with the exception of an injury-prone last six months, have always trained with a goal race in mind.  I’ve been eating all my life, which makes me think I’m sort of an expert there.  (For those who prefer a more recognizable credential, I’m also a Registered Dietitian.)  I’ve learned a few things about training and eating along the way.  Join me on the road to fun and fitness!