Why I’ve Been MIA and Shutting Down

I am working on a blog-related project and I had intended not to blog until the project was ready for release.  I made that decision when it was almost done, but then classes started and I haven’t been working on it because I am suddenly a lot more busy.  Every time I have wanted to blog over the last couple weeks, I have decided that I can’t because my project isn’t ready yet.  I think it’s been three weeks now and I don’t want to rush completion, so I’m just going to return to blogging until it is done. 🙂

This is going to have to not be a running blog for a while because I am not running for a while.  I have a piriformus injury that is almost gone, but I also have persistent tendinitis in the arches of both feet.  I have had the latter on and off for almost a year at this point.  Running with tendon pain is just not worth it to me anymore.  I am restarting physical therapy on the 26th for my hip, and I have been much more diligent about doing prescribed at-home exercises and icing my feet.  I have been wearing inserts in my shoes, and if my physical therapist suggests custom orthotics as she has in the past, instead of saying “no thanks,” I am going to ask, “How much and when can we make them?”

Lately, I have been wishing that I could just erase my last year or two of running.  Through mostly mistakes of my own, I have been plagued with injury after injury.  Sure, I ran my fastest half marathon in May 2013, but I also got a stress fracture and peroneal tendonitis during the way-too-aggressive build-up.  If I could, I would give up that PR to not have begun the vicious injury cycle back then.

Hindsight is 20/20 and there is no point to living in regret.  I may have had an unproductive, mostly injured 18 months of training, but I can learn from that.  I can learn to be patient, to be cautious, and not to try to keep up with far more experienced runners (in terms of pace, mileage, and what workouts they do).  I may not be the most patient person on the whole, but patience is all I have right now when it comes to running.

I am only 21 years old.  There are people who start running at this age or later and end up running very well into their thirties and beyond.  The other night as I was lying in bed, I thought, “I wish I could just start over.”  And you know what?  I can.  If I am very patient and heal completely instead of going back to running as soon as I think I feel better, I can start over.  If I do not think of it as a return to running, I can start over.  I’m not going to think about things I used to be able to do and my goal will not be to get back to that level of fitness.  I don’t want to go back.  I want to move forward.  I’m going to start fresh.  A clean slate.  A healthy body.  Unknown potential.

I’m hoping for a January 1, 2015 start date.  Not a return date, but a start date.  If I am not healthy by then, I will not run.  If I am healthy before then, I will enjoy extra time off and start in the new year.  I am done running for this year.  This has been a long, painful learning process that I am ready to leave behind.

Just to be clear, the blog is not going anywhere.  I will keep writing here, and hopefully soon my project will be ready to unveil. 🙂

I Didn’t Listen to My Body and I Don’t Even Care

Hi. My feet hurt. My feet have hurt for the last several weeks and I have kept running on them feeling them get worse and worse and knowing I was running myself into an injury. Yet for some reason, I didn’t care. And honestly, I still don’t care. I haven’t run since Wednesday, which is only five days ago. For the last week and a half of running, I have been seriously considering quitting altogether. While running 12 miles around the lake two weekends ago, I was thinking about how I didn’t even really like running long anymore and how I would be much happier just running however much I feel like whenever I feel like it.

I don’t want to train for things anymore.  Or at the very least, I want a break from training for things.  I don’t want the pressure of a deadline and I don’t want to feel like I have to run through discomfort if I don’t want to.  That doesn’t mean I’m not going to do races for fun if I feel like it.  I have a ten-mile race toward the end of August that I am doing because Matt does it every year and he wanted me to do it with him.  It will be fun.  It also doesn’t mean I’m going to stop running longish.  I like being in shape to drop in on things like running the 8 miles around Mackinac Island if I make a trip up there and feel like running around the island.

But I’m not going to force myself to run when I don’t want to.  I’m sick of that and it makes me sick of running.  I walked to work this morning (two miles) and I was just as happy as if I had run before work.  I’m not going to run through pain just because I think I am “supposed” to be running, which is what I had been doing the last few weeks.  Nooo thank you.

Last week, I made plans to go to a social run tomorrow night, and I really want to go to that, but it happens every week and I’m not going to grit my teeth and run with painful feet just because I’m impatient and want to go to the social run this week instead of next.  I’ll see what tomorrow brings, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t going to bring pain-free feet.

Oh, and I finally deleted my running club Google doc.

Not Wanting to Run vs. Not Feeling Like It

Yesterday, I had a 3-mile run on the schedule.  Simple enough, short, not a problem.  I decided to do it in the evening after work because I was doing laundry in the morning and didn’t have any clean running clothes to wear.

Often when I schedule an evening run, I spend much of my afternoon at work looking forward to it.  However, yesterday, as early as maybe 2 o’clock, I was already starting to think about how I didn’t want to run.  I was tired, I just wanted to be lazy, I had other plans I would rather spend more time on… etc, etc.

I used a lot of mental energy arguing with myself about whether to run.  I knew I was more likely to do the run than to skip it because it was on my schedule and one thing I am pretty good at is sticking to a training plan.  Still, there was probably 30% of me that didn’t want to do it.  Or should I say, didn’t FEEL LIKE doing it.

In the process of eliminating that 30% that said “no, don’t run,” I focused a lot on asking myself whether I didn’t want to run, or whether I just didn’t feel like running.  I WANTED to run because I want to reach my goals.  I’m not going to get faster by skipping scheduled runs because I’m lazy, and I might finish a marathon that way, but it sure as hell won’t be pretty.  No, I just didn’t FEEL LIKE running yesterday.  There is a big difference, at least to me.  In fact, I found myself wishing that I did feel like running.  So, I focused on my goals and on the big picture, I laced up my big-girl shoes, and I ran.

I put it off as long as possible.  I ate dinner as soon as I got home from work a little after five, I took a nap and stayed in bed until seven… and then I got up, got changed, and got out the door faster than I have in a while.  I started really slowly because I wanted to be as comfortable as possible, since I didn’t really feel like being out there.  I figured I would run 10:15s and hope that felt okay in the heat (it was 82).  I texted Matt to tell him that I brought my phone because my heart wasn’t in the run.  He promised to send me plenty of good vibes. 🙂  Apparently he actually sent me a Snapchat, but I didn’t get it until later.

I ended up running into a friend I hadn’t seen in a long while and we ran together for a few minutes before we went our separate ways.  It was nice catching up.  The conversation got my mind off things and I let myself get pulled to run a little faster than I would have on my own.  By the time we split, I was feeling better.

I’m glad I ran.  I could easily have justified skipping the run.  It’s a down week in the training plan anyway, my leg was a little stiff…  But I’m glad I was able to focus on the difference between not wanting to run because I don’t care about reaching my goals (I do care) and not feeling like running on that particular day.

And after, I got to play LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game.

I Broke My No-Coffee Streak

Confession: I don’t really like scrambled eggs.

Confession #2:  I will eat them for breakfast anyway because they are a quick and easy source of protein in the morning.  When I can, I would much rather have pancakes, waffles, or even a bagel, but we can’t have everything.  I had pancakes yesterday and the day before that. 🙂

I’m drinking coffee this morning for the first time since Friday.  Today is Wednesday, so that means I went four days without coffee or caffeine of any sort (unless you count chocolate).  The Java Chip Mint Stout I drank the other night miiiight have broken that rule (“It’s the perfect marriage of mint-chocolate-chip-ice cream and roasted coffee.”), but I’m not too sure.  We’ll just say I went four days without coffee. 🙂

I didn’t really do it on purpose.  I skipped coffee on Saturday because I had slept a lot Friday night, then I skipped it again Sunday because “I might as well try going the weekend without coffee.”  Then it just became a challenge of seeing how long I could go.  Four days, apparently.  This morning I decided there was no good reason to continue the streak when coffee would help me wake up and stay awake for my 8am eye doctor appointment.

I didn’t get headaches, which is awesome because I thought I would have.  A couple weeks ago, I noticed I was getting a headache if I skipped my morning coffee or sometimes even if I didn’t have an afternoon cup, so I cut back to one cup a day.  That seems to have helped, given my lack of withdrawal symptoms these last four days.  I’ll probably try to stick to one cup a day, and if I want more, I’ll drink decaf.  That’s what I used to do, until probably last semester when I started drinking comparatively quite a lot of coffee to help me stay awake for my programming projects.

It doesn’t help that I really do love the taste of coffee.  I mean, like I mentioned, I bought a coffee-flavored beer for Pete’s sake.  I’m not some kind of coffee aficionado, but I can tell really good coffee from really bad coffee, which is maybe a start?  I drink it black most of the time, and I have the luxury of having freshly ground beans whenever I want.  My mom and brother both work in coffee and both get a free half pound at the end of every week, so whenever I’m running low, I can just ask one of them.  I’ve only had to buy beans once because I wasn’t going to see my mom for a couple more weeks and I was completely out. xD  Another time, she gave me 15 pounds of beans at once (four 3-lb bags of the beans they use at the cafe, plus another three pounds of various beans they display on the floor).  I’m still going through those after giving two 3-lb bags to my boyfriend.

I’ve finished sipping now, so it’s time for me to clean up and get ready to see the eye doctor.  I’m so excited to be getting contacts again!  I ran out two months ago, but have been wearing the same pair from April, anyway… (only when I run, for the most part!).

Would you say you are addicted to coffee?  If you are, does it bother you, or do you not really care because it gets you through the day?

Thoughts from Today’s Long Run

This morning, the plan said to run 7 miles. On Thursday, I had asked Matt if he wanted to accompany me to a nearby park for the day’s 3-miler. He said he couldn’t make it but offered to run with me Saturday instead. When I said I was running 7 on Saturday, I totally did not expect him to want to come, but he offered! It was very exciting.

We got to the park around 8:30am and set out for the run. I really feel bad that my current comfortable pace is so slow because it’s so below his level, but every time I told him to go ahead if he wanted, he said he wanted to run with me. 🙂

Last week, I ran 6 and I was expecting it to feel short and easy, but it didn’t because of the heat. Today, I had no such expectations. I can tell that I am slowly regaining fitness, but it is going to be a looong process and my confidence has truly been shaken. I am so far from the 8:35-pace 10-miler I remember running nearly two years ago.

Today, as with last week, I found myself questioning whether I would even finish. Honestly, I knew I would finish, especially because there was no way Matt was going to let me cop out, but I still questioned how I would do it. Of course, 7 miles isn’t very far, but I guess I was struggling mentally. Physically, I felt fine and my pace was extremely consistent, but I kept thinking negative things. Things like, “I’m not even halfway,” “I still have X amount of miles to go,” etc.

In the end, I was okay. I finished the distance no problem. My last mile was the quickest by about 15 seconds. I ran the last mile on my own because Matt decided to go ahead after 6 miles, but it seemed to pass quickly and I wasn’t dying. At least, in hindsight I wasn’t dying. I probably felt differently in the moment.

I know it is going to take a long time to get back the fitness I once had. I know it will take patience and consistency. And if my confidence is lacking, I need to fake it till I make it. Because I can’t keep asking myself if I am going to be able to finish my runs. I won’t always have someone there to keep me moving forward. I know I can run these distances and they would not be in the plan if I couldn’t. I need to trust and enjoy the process and the results will come. 🙂

I’m feeling positive looking forward!

What Makes a Runner?

Inspired by Beth’s post about when she realized she was a runner (part of her May Running Blog Challenge), I wanted to write some thoughts about what makes someone a runner.  I’m a firm believer in the notion that if you run, you are a runner.  If you you used to run a lot and then you took a year off and you kind of want to get back into running but you haven’t yet and still call yourself a runner, you are a runner.  Basically, if you feel like a runner, you are a runner, in my opinion.

I have had to come around to this way of thinking.  When I first started running toward the beginning of college, I never even thought about such a thing as being a “runner”.  I knew little to nothing about running, racing, and the culture that surrounds those things.  I saw running as a way to stay in shape and to enjoy the weather when it was nice out.  I remember the summer after my freshman year, I wanted to lose a few pounds, so I would wake up at 6am, lace up, and run around campus for a little while a few times a week.  Probably never more than 1.5-2 miles and I didn’t know nor did I care how far or fast I was running.

Fast forward to the summer after my sophomore year when I started getting more into it.  I won an age group award in a local 5k and my competitive drive took over.  Not long after, I met a group of faster, more experienced runners, and I came to look up to them and be inspired by them.  Suddenly my 25-minute 5k felt inadequate and I just wanted to get faster.  I joined my school’s running club because I thought it would help me understand things like how to do workouts to get faster.  Before I knew it, I was sucked into this really competitive world and somehow I learned all these ideas about what a “runner” is.

I thought anything less than 3 miles was not really even a run.  I thought that if I ran slower than 10-minute pace, then I wasn’t a runner.  I also thought that all these fast, lean runners would think less of me because I didn’t have visible abs…

I believe that those ideas contributed hugely to my long string of injuries since February 2013.  “I have to run this many miles even if my legs are telling me no. I have to run faster.  This doesn’t feel easy, but if I slow down I’ll be running 9:30s and that’s unacceptable.”  Sounds dangerous, yeah?

I literally was HAPPY to get a stress fracture in February of last year because I felt like a real runner.  Because people I knew who were fast in my eyes got stress fractures.  A stress fracture meant I was running a lot.  Ummmm.

I quit the running club after the end of this school year.  I had wanted to leave earlier, but I held a board position, so I felt obligated to stay.  It was not healthy for me physically or mentally.  Maybe that is due to my own insecurities, but the environment of the club was such that it exacerbated them.

This morning, I went out for a run.  I left later than planned and I had to be back by 8am to have time to shower and finish getting ready, so I only ran 2.5 miles.  While running, I thought about how I would add on a little if I was close to 3.  Then I thought about why.  2.5 miles is still a run, I am still sore from Sunday, and I had to get ready for work.  And you know what?  I am very happy about my 2.5 miles.  I am a runner.

The World’s Best Birthday Present

Or, “The Best Present I Ever Received But Was Ungrateful for As an 11-Year-Old Shithead.”

Turning 11 was a traumatic experience for me.  I cried because I thought it was the “last” year of being “young”.  Because 12 is almost a teenager and by that point you aren’t even a kid anymore.  I really actually cried.

So for some reason that birthday was especially memorable and I remember a couple of the gifts I got that year.  One was a pink and purple layering shirt set that my mom got me from Old Navy:

Definitely not 11 here. But I’m wearing my birthday present. 12 or 13 sitting atop Whiteface Mountain in Lake Placid, NY. 🙂

The other was… a yellow yoga mat.  I was figure skating competitively at the time, and my mom told her sister that I needed a yoga mat for yoga-ish things.  So my mom drove me to some parking lot somewhere where we met up with my aunt who gave me a yellow yoga mat.  I was gracious, but I was pretty disappointed.  I didn’t think I needed it and I certainly didn’t want it.  Not for my birthday, anyway.

Well, I’ll tell you what, that thing is the gift that just keeps on giving.  Even though I don’t do yoga, I still get so much use out of it.  I used to bring it to skating to unroll on the floor and use for my warmups.  It went unused for a while once I quit, but the last few years it has been getting lots of use as a mat for core and stretching at home.  I even did actual yoga on it a few times.  I still don’t like yoga though.  So not much yoga happens on that mat.  But some.

Planking on my best birthday gift ever after a run a couple weeks ago

Planking on my best birthday gift ever after a run a couple weeks ago

Not sure what is happening here but I found this picture in my phone.  Probably thought it felt squishy.

Not sure what is happening here but I found this picture in my phone. Probably thought it felt squishy and sent this pic to some poor someone.

I also love that it’s yellow.  I don’t see many yellow yoga mats.  It’s nice. 🙂

So yes.  I love my yoga mat.  Even though I hated it 10 years ago.  It is amazing now and I’m so very grateful for it.  Thanks Aunt!

Have you ever gotten a gift you still use years later?