Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Should I Quit?

(So I guess I'm merging all three of my blogs now because I don't have the desire to keep three blogs up to date.)

I signed up for my first 1/2 marathon.  It's September 18.  But it's not looking good.  My knees hurt when I run.  I have a high tolerance for pain and I know I can push through it.  But I don't want to risk seriously injuring myself and then making it so that I can't do anything because my knees are damaged.  

A few years ago, I was prescribed orthotics because I have low arches.  I'd injured my foot and it was still full of fluid months after the pain was gone.  So I went to the podiatrist who said I had flat feet and fitted me for some orthotics.  (The podiatrist never did get to the root of the fluid which I still have in the foot.  I recently learned from a friend of mine who is a massage therapist that I probably damaged one of my lymph ducts and that the lymphatic fluid is not being properly reabsorbed so it's just pooling in my foot.  She is going to drain it for me and then show me how to wrap to encourage healing).  

I'd been running in the orthotics and it was fine in the winter when I was running with thick wool socks on.  As soon as it got warm and I started running with thinner cotton socks, my feet were slipping around too much in my Aasics 2150s so I quit the orthotics.  I'm not sure if that's why I'm experiencing so much pain when I run now.  My ten-mile Sunday run was really brutal and one day of complete rest did not help today: it still hurt while I was doing a 50 minute easy run.  

I've been icing my knees after running and also foam rolling to try to minimize the damage.  Up until I asked for advice on my situation on a running message board, I hadn't even considered quitting.  Like I said, I can deal with pain.  But I really do have to think long and hard about this and I need to make a decision.
My current plan is to go for my speed interval run on Thursday wearing the orthotics (and 2 pairs of socks).  If it's still painful, I will withdraw from the race and make the slow transition to running in my Vibram Five Fingers (which many folks have testified eliminated the knee pain since running barefoot forces the body to assume correct form).  I'd only been using the Vibrams to lift and to otherwise cross train (floor aerobics a la BodyRock style and exercise bike) and I love how they feel on my feet.  I already knew from one solitary and painful try, that running on pavement in them was not a great idea and that's why till now, I've been hesitant to run in the Vibram's at all even though it might be the key to solving my running woes.  You know the compromises we make as moms to fit it all in . . . I don't have any trails nearby and it's just more convenient and saves more time to run in the neighborhood.  So I've been faithful to the Aasics and I feel like maybe now it's time to pay the piper.  (((sigh)) It was also suggested that I go see a physical therapist to assess my gait and so I think if I can find one covered by my health insurance I will do that too.  Right after I make the ob/gym appointment I've been putting off for months.  

I'm really bummed that I have to think about not doing this race.  It was really nice to have this as my focus and I have been enjoying training (except for the pain).  Psychologically, it's been great to be doing something different (than heavy lifting).  I hope I can get to the bottom of the pain so that I can continue to run for years pain free. 

What to do with the key?

Maybe for other runners it's not a big deal but for me, figuring out where to keep my house keys while on a run had my mental wheels turning.  At first, I figured I could just stick them in my bra as it had enough fabric and material to keep them (and the girls) from moving.  (It's an Enell bra so yeah, it didn't it was a stupid idea.)  Uhhh . . . yes, it was and you can probably imagine why.  Next I thought I could have it on my wrist on a coil key chain . . . that worked for a while but eventually it just go kind of irritating since the key wouldn't stay put.  Next, I tried the key chain that goes around the neck because surely that should stay secure but alas, no go.  Finally, I figured it out! I wear a Road ID bracelet when I run which means I don't bother carrying any other form of identification.  I took a key ring, hooked it on to the plastic loop of the bracelet.   After I fasten the bracelet, I tuck the key into the little loop that's made.  I then tighten the bracelet as much as is comfortable.  No matter how long the run, no matter how sweaty I get, the bracelet and the key stay put.  What's more, even when I'm not running--say just going to the gym--I grab the Road ID bracelet and my key is already attached to it.  It's all I need to take with me.  Anyway, I thought I'd share that for anyone else who maybe had a bit of difficulty figuring out what to do with the key when you're out for a run.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

"You Can't Fix a Body You Hate"

I read this wonderful article over at Everyday Paleo.  It's true on so many levels and I hope you get a chance to read it.  

I can be very honest about things these days.  I started this fitness journey simply because I wanted to get my pre-pregnancy body, which I really loved, back. There were no lofty and esoteric goals.  After I had worked and worked and worked only to discover that my pre-pregnancy body was gone forever, I quickly had to shift my focus to something more substantive like becoming strong and staying fit so that I could enjoy life.  I hated feeling sluggish and tired and like I couldn't even keep up with my kids.  It turns out that I really like being active and moving my body so the aesthetic side of working out naturally took a back burner. I'm wasn't going to stop doing the stuff that made me feel awesome bodily and mentally because it wasn't yielding the aesthetic results I wanted.  But I won't lie and say it doesn't bother me that I put in all this effort and I still don't have a picture worthy body.  I have a diastasis which makes me still look a few months pregnant and lots of skin that just didn't snap back and sags and jiggles.  And there's nothing short of surgery really (although I hope to give the Tupler technique a try one of these days) that's going to fix it.  I can't fix it and I've pretty much given up trying to fix it through exercise.  Yes, I don't like to look at myself naked in the mirror: I don't like what I see reflected back.  I don't think it looks good.  I don't love the way it looks.  Sometimes I hate the way it looks.  But it doesn't stop me from working hard because I have other goals on which I'm working--goals that don't give a hoot how tight my midsection is.  I do love my body because it can run 10 miles and then still make a hearty breakfast for my family.  I love it because it can do 4 chin-ups!  I love it because it can lift weights, hang laundry, clean the bathroom, drive, read, knit and crochet, cook, walk, jump rope, heck, smile and just be here.  I won't front, it does bother me when I see other women who don't work nearly as hard as I do with (at least) smooth stomachs (even if there is a little pouch).  What can you do?  As a human, we often compare ourselves and envy others and wonder, "why me?" and I'm not exempt.   

I have come to the realization that I loved what my body looked like pre-kids because I received a lot of validation about it from men and from the media.  I had a classic hourglass figure.  Svelte.  I could wear pretty much anything and make it look good.  I didn't have to try to camouflage anything.  I can't honestly say I liked it just because it was mine but I liked it, no loved it, because the world did.  Currently that's not the case.  I'm quite muscular with broad shoulders and my waist and hips measure pretty much the same (giving me what I usually see labelled as an "athletic" physique).  My breasts are saggy and deflated post-nursing.  And I already described my belly.  Certainly not what society deems as lovely.  So I'm cognizant of the fact that I'm going to have pull some love for the way my body looks from way deep inside and I'm working on it.  

I hope one day I fall in love with what my body looks like but today is not that day.  Today, I'm grateful for being able to find a different focus and all the wonderful blessings that come from having that different focus.  

The Sportsman: Unexpected Lessons from Around the World by Dhani Jones

I am not a football fan by any stretch of the imagination.  I was introduced to American football player Dhani Jones through an article in the August 2011 edition of Muscle & Fitness magazine (which also featured an excellent article on actor Terry Crews).  I've been borrowing and reading Muscle & Fitness recently as an alternative to women's fitness magazines which spend way too much time, in my opinion, talking about hair and makeup tips.  The workouts in those magazines are light and are usually about firming up with 5 pound weights and losing weight "by eating these 5 foods".  Since I have very little hair, wear no makeup, and enjoy lifting heavy weights, I really have no interest in them.  There are some magazines akin to Muscle & Fitness for women but my library doesn't subscribe to them.  Anyway, back to Dhani Jones.  

Dhani Jones is a linebacker for the Cincinnati Bengals.  He also had his own show, Dhani Tackles the Globe, which is available as a "play now" on Netflix and wrote a book The Sportsman: Unexpected Lessons from around the World which is part memoir, part chronicle of his time taping the show.  

I enjoyed reading The Sportsman.  I guess because I have finally started to consider myself to be an athlete, I just identified with a lot of what he had to say.  I also liked the conversational style of the book: I felt like Jones was honest and open and that after having read it, I really had a good sense of who he is.  And I really like him.  He can be cocky and then humble.  Quirky and then very regular.  I liked how he was really conscious of everything he was doing--the effects it would have on his body, his mind, his spirit but also on how folks would see others like him, namely Black folks.  He speaks more than once about busting myths about Black folks like how Black folks don't travel or swim.  So he understood that when he went to places where there were no Black folks, that he had a lot riding on his shoulder as "the representative" but he doesn't bristle at being that--he embraces it which is not always easy to do.  

It was just really interesting reading about all the adventures he had and all the things he got to do.  All while balancing a demanding football career.  Sounded like a whole lot of fun and a whole lot of challenge.  It was a nice read.  Pretty easy.  In fact, I started to get a tad bored at the end and then I learned that the show wasn't renewed for a third season.  I could see why . . . you can only do it so many times before it's completely done.  I'm not sure if I'll finish watching the show on Netflix now that I've read the book because I already know what's going to happen but I might . . . it might be good to see the pictures that go along with the words.  Anyway, I recommend both the show and the book.  Very enjoyable.  
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