The Running Junkie and Fear of Recovery

/>href=”https://dianestrong.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/rain.jpg”>rain

As I looked out my window this morning watching the pounding rain, I thought to myself, ‘I should just stay inside and do yoga’. But then the rain lightened up for a brief moment and I said, “Oh, it looks like it’s gonna stop. I’m going for my run.”

At mile four of my hilly-six miler, when the cold spring rain was pelting me in the face like shards of glass as I ran, I had two thoughts:

1. I am so glad I opted to leave my expensive Garmin Watch at home, although I would REALLY like to know what my pace is right now.
and
2. I am so glad I didn’t opt-out of my run and do yoga.

While most sane people are looking for a good opportunity to back out of a scheduled run, the Running Junkie dreads having to back out of a run. The Running Junkie’s worst day is when he/she is sick, and not because he’s on his knees vomiting into the toilet, but because he is too weak to go outside and run. He fears he will lose fitness and God knows what else.
yoga
While creating today’s blog in my head today during my stormy run I discovered the ‘God knows what else’ of the above sentence…I think.

You see, staying inside and doing yoga this morning would have been perfect for me and my fitness. This is especially true since I did two speed-workouts yesterday (one of them completely unplanned and off the cuff) and my left leg was wound as tight at a pretzel.pretzelAn easy day full of stretching and meditation would have probably allowed my leg to mend and my muscles to repair so that my long run tomorrow would really be awesome…maybe even brag-worthy.

But I didn’t choose yoga, like so many Running Junkies out there, I chose to run.

Now I’m going to tell you a dirty little secret that only a small handful of people (maybe 3 people) are aware of. I think it is pertinent to my discovery this morning so I am willing to scar my perfect image with the sad truth of my youth.

href=”https://dianestrong.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/pills.jpg”>pills

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As I ran along, my shoes sloshing through mud puddles I dialed my brain back about 18 years to a time before I was married and long before I became a runner. I was in college, alone in a strange town in Montana and using pills to get me through my long days of school and work. During my college career I had developed a nasty dependency on these pills so much that I was taking them every day and barely able to pay for rent to feed the addiction. I was convinced that without the pills I would fail; fail at school, at work and in life, that I couldn't imagine a single day without my precious pills.

Occasionally I would decide to take a 'day-off' of my pills, to let my body recover and my tollerance to bounce back a little. I was taking more and more all the time, I had hoped that with a day off, maybe I wouldn't require so many pills to keep me bouncing through my day. But the planned 'day-off' seldom came. ???????????????????????????????????????
I feared it. The only way I could manage it was to stay in bed all day and sleep. A day without my pills was like a day without the sun.

Now fast forward to the me you see today, the organic food eating, running, swimming, biking mother of two and wife. I’m so far from the disaster I was almost twenty years ago. But if I look deep into my soul I have to admit I still have an addiction, I’ve just replaced it with running.

mom and kids

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Like so many Running Junkies, whether they are running from a past, a drug, a relationship or whatever, we are junkies. We can't imagine what will happen if we don't get our fix for the day. We run in the rain and do speed workouts the day before a race and choose running over yoga because there is a piece of our brain that just plain cannot imagine what will happen if we don't run. Even when we know we would be a faster runner, win more races and suffer less injuries if we just gave ourselves the recovery/rest days we need…we still run.
runner

In the last few months I have pledged to take one rest day a week. I often end up hiking or doing something active, not sleeping, but it is a day off. In return my body has rewarded me with faster tempo runs and new race PR’s (personal records). When I wake up on my rest day and think about going for a run, just a short one, I think back to my youth and tell myself, ‘No, Diane. You’re a grown-up now. You know what will happen if you don’t run…and it’s a good thing.”

But today was Wednesday, not Saturday, so I couldn’t possibly miss my run:)
must run

So, to all you Running Junkies out there, and to Tim, whom I know is going to try to squeeze a quick four mile run into his layover at San Francisco two days before his big marathon, you are not alone. At least we understand each other. Have a great run, I hope you find what you are looking for.

Happy running to all my fellow Running Junkies AND to the Sane Runners we will never be. (Yes, Running Junkie and Sane Runner DO need to be capitalized:P

#running #junkie #racing #recovery #restday #drugs #pills #training

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Peeing Like a Boy: The Painful Story Of How I Learned To Run

me and the assEveryone has their story, here’s mine.

I didn’t run track in high school. I didn’t run cross country either. Until I was thirty-two, the farthest I had ever run was two city blocks, and that was only because the police were chasing me out the back door of a party.

For me, running happened by accident. After my first child was born I became a bit of a cardio junkie in an effort to lose the baby weight. When I became pregnant with my second child, I did the elliptical five days a week up until my due date. When he was born I resumed the elliptical with a passion.>elliptical

For my 32nd birthday my husband bought me an IPod Shuffle. I was so pissed! What the hell was I supposed to do with an IPod? I watched TV when I worked out. I was never one to have headphones on and listen to music…I just didn’t care about music.Ipod shuffle

So one day I showed up at the gym, dropped my kids in the gym’s daycare and headed for the cardio room. The kids were only allowed two hours at the daycare so I had to hurry to get my workout in and shower before my time was up. When I got to the cardio room, all the elliptical machines were being used. I waited and waited and no one got off the machines. UGH! I was upset, this was eating into my two hours!

So I looked at the track. track2
I figured I could go walk the track while I waited. I grabbed my IPod Shuffle and headed out at a brisk pace. The music really pumped me up, so much so, that I actually broke into a bit of a jog. I had never jogged before.

Amazed that I made it around the track one entire time without stopping, I decided I would run around as many times as I could without stopping until I couldn’t run any more. With music blaring in my ear I started running. I ran one lap, then two, then another…I felt like I was dying but at the same time I felt like I was the most awesome person in the gym, cause I was RUNNING!

I finally came to a stop after reaching five whole laps. I was euphoric. I was on top of the world. I looked around to see if anyone else saw just how fricking amazing I was. I mean, they were just walking, but not me…I ran. I toot

I assumed I had run a couple of miles. I mean, it was five laps, maybe a lap is a mile, I didn’t know. I approached a little old lady walker to see if she had any idea how far a mile was on the track. She was really nice, probably honored to be talking to a runner, and explained that eleven and a half laps equal one mile.

WTF! Actually, I didn’t use that acronym, it wasn’t really around at the time but in my head I was saying the real words. How was it possible that I hadn’t even run a single mile!? I didn’t even make it one mile. I was so bummed. And then I decided to set a goal. One mile, non-stop.

I gathered up my will, cued up an especially inspirational song with a great beat and set out to run eleven and a half laps without stopping. I was a little smarter already, after my first five laps I had already learned the lesson of starting off too fast. With a much tamer pace I ran one lap then another keeping a focused look on my face and desire in my heart. As I entered the virgin area of lap six I tried not to let the unknown drag me down. By the time I was on lap eleven I was convincing myself that if I could do a mile, I could be president. I could literally do ANYTHING, if I could just run this mile. presidents-slideshow

The point marking eleven and a half miles was in my sight, I thought I would die before making it there. My legs were on fire and I could hardly breathe. I damn near pushed people out of the way so I wouldn’t need to waste any energy going around them. You could hear my sickly gasps for air all the way in the weight room…I was sure of it.

I did it. I made it eleven and a half laps, came to an abrupt stop nearly tripping an old man behind me, and held my hands up as if cutting the tape on a marathon. I did it. I was the BOMB! I simply could not wait to tell my husband, friends, and family (especially those on Facebook…poor thangs) just how awesome I was. I RAN A MILE!!
bragging<

My life has been forever changed since that day I ran eleven and a half laps around the track at my local gym. Despite the fact I was unable to descend stairs without sitting on my butt for a full week after running my first mile, despite having to pee standing up like a boy because I could sit without assistance, despite the delayed onset of excruciating pain…I continued to run and still do to this day. It's been over six years. I've run every distance up to the marathon and evolved into a triathlete. Amazing how things can change so dramatically in one silly day.
peeing like a boy

That stupid IPod is to blame. Had it not been for my silly husband buying me a stupid gift that I would NEVER use, I probably never would have run on the track that day. My husband’s gift, gave me a gift that I am forever thankful for.

PS: I no longer run with music, it took me a few years to grow out of the need for music while running. I write books while I run now, the music is distracting:)
triathlon pic<
braggingquotes

#running #triathlon #beginner #track #crosscountry #funny #Ipod #Race #elliptical

RUNNER DOWN! When You Can’t Run

feet in flipflops
UNABLE TO RUN!

In 2009 I decided that after just three years of running, I was going to run my first marathon. Knowing I would need a mission behind my goal, I chose a foundation to raise money for : The Larry Frimanslund Oral Cancer Foundation. I signed up for the Twin Cities Medtronic Marathon and went about my training.

It wasn’t until my 17-mile long run, just eight weeks before the marathon, that I ran into trouble. It was my IT band. I took 4 days off and went out for a seven-mile test run. At three and a half miles I was unable to walk let alone run. The pain brought tears to my eyes and a sadness to my heart. The thought of not being able to finish my training and having to back-out of the marathon paralyzed me.

I sat on the side of the road contemplating how I would manage to get the 3.5 miles back home to my house. I thought about the book I was reading: Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall, and made a rash decision. I took off my shoes and started walking toward my house, there was no pain. With a shoe in each hand I worked my way into an easy jog and amazingly remained pain-free.

By the time I reached my home I had decided that I would finish my training, even if I had to run stocking-footed to do it.
It didn’t take too many mid-week runs to realize I couldn’t afford new socks every day and besides, my feet needed a little more protection from the gravel on the roads.

I experimented with shoes, finding that my flip-flops were the best for running in. I used medical tape to keep them on my feet and more tape to cover the blisters caused by the straps. My training went on without IT band pain.

Eventually I decided to purchase a pair of Vibram 5-fingers. It was those shoes that I ultimately ran (and jogged…and walked) my marathon in.
blue vibrum<

What I did was stupid. I mean, yes, I finished my marathon and met my goal, but no one should go from a full shoe to a minimal shoe in the middle of training for a marathon. That was proven to me on the first run after my marathon. After a few days rest I went out for a simple three-mile run with my run club and returned with a stress fracture. Boom, six-weeks of no running.

I am still a minimalist runner, I don’t believe in arch support and especially believe that kids should start with a minimal shoe and remain in one their entire life. But that isn’t what this is about.

This is about not being able to run.

Running junkies the world over can be heard moaning when they are sidelined for even a few days. Many, like me, will risk major injury instead of taking much-needed rest and recovery. Our intense desire to run is remarkable, impressive, maybe even honorable…but it isn’t conducive to longevity.

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOUR UNABLE TO RUN?

1. Take the time to research your condition and learn as much as you can about it. I guarantee you’re not the only one suffering with your condition. Find out what worked for others in your situation. Don’t take your doctor’s advice as gospel, he doesn’t know everything (especially if he isn’t a runner). Get second opinions, don’t be afraid of physical therapy, chiropractic’s, and alternative treatments like acupuncture, supplements and diet change to get you well.

2. Don’t return to running too soon. If you have a stress fracture, you need 4-6 weeks off, period. Coming back after 3 weeks because you don’t feel any pain is stupid. Don’t be stupid.

3. Don’t just sit there (not that you would anyway). Just because you can’t run doesn’t mean you can’t do anything. With most injuries you can still swim, cycle, do yoga and you can most definitely weight train. Even with a huge boot on my foot I could still ride my stationary bike for hours at a time and I could swim to sustain a certain amount of fitness.

4. Don’t get out of the loop. Don’t avoid your running friends or your run club. While your buddies are out running you can walk. Take part in the social time with your running friends. Talk about your injury, express the difficulty of not running and let them assure you that you’ll be back.

5. Don’t worry! Just because you are taking some time off doesn’t mean you’re going to have to start from scratch. Nor does it mean you will come back as a mediocre runner. I’ve seen it over and over, people not only return to run strong, but they run faster and stronger than ever before. I can only assume it is a result of the forced extended recovery time. After my stress fracture I returned to run my fasted half marathon ever.

I hope to bring some examples of people who have returned from injuries to inspire you. If you have a story, please feel free to tell everyone about it in the comments below! Happy running.

#running #injury #marathon #stressfracture #fracture #vibrum #borntorun #racing

Overcoming Pain: How Chiropractics Helped Me Run

Me and the B (B is for Back Pain) (‘B’ IS FOR BACK PAIN)
I’ve been dealing with some issues lately and thought I would share it with you all in hopes you will gain something from my experience. This post is for runners, or anyone who has had to deal with pain.

It’s so hard to appreciate something when you don’t realize you have it. Moving without pain is taken for granted by all of us I think.

Pain has the ability to suck the happiness out of your day like no other thing. It takes the joy out of your most favorite activities and makes the simplest tasks seem like unmanageable obstacles.

Running is my cocaine. It starts my day, processes my tasks, plans my schedule, heals my fears…it is a welcome friend I cannot live without. I enjoy running. When pain becomes the only thing I feel when I run, my world falls apart.

A HISTORY OF BACK ISSUES
I’ve been dealing with back issues my whole life. Only a few times has it interfered with my life, and even then pain medication made it tolerable. I’ve always maintained a back strengthening regimen and done core exercised to stave off back pain. But after a fall from my bike last spring dislocated my sacrum, I entered into a downward spiral that came to a head this January.

As usual, I tried to train through the pain. Some days were worse than others, when it got really bad I would take a couple Naproxen Sodium and hope for the best. But when I found myself walking in the half marathon I ran in March, I knew something was really wrong. I don’t walk during races.

A few chiropractic treatments got the pain back to tolerable and I went on with the summer, agreeing with myself that I would take it easy this year, no real races, just fun stuff like the Tough Mudder.
tough mudder diane and danny<

SLIPPING INTO A RUNNING HELL
As summer turned to fall, my running pace dipped slower and slower and my joy turned to drudgery. I began to dread my morning runs knowing they would be slow and painful. The pain turned to sciatica that made sitting and standing a miserable state while at the same time kept me up at night. My attitude was irritable with the constant nagging ache behind every answer to a question. I was miserable and miserable to be around; my family can verify this.

WEIGHT GAIN
To add gas to the fire, I began to slowly gain weight. As a person who monitors her weight daily, and has maintained a steady weight my entire adult life except for during pregnancies, I was at a loss for an explanation. No amount of exercise or food restriction managed to bring my weight back to the happy place. I found myself reaching for weight loss supplements…something I don’t ever do. They didn’t help, my weight kept rising. I was up about eight pounds and feeling a complete loss of control…something I don’t deal with easily.

A DESPERATE MOVE
In desperation I limped into a local chiropractic office to see if they had any specials going. I had an initial exam and given a treatment plan. This time, for the first time ever, I committed to following the full plan. I purchased a 20 visit package so that I wouldn’t quit after I got a little better, I signed on for the full six weeks.

The first week was up and down. My sciatica pain was magically relieved but replaced by severe lower back pain. In the second week the lower back pain resolved but was replaced by severe neck pain. Then the sciatica came back. By week four, almost nothing hurt.

While all the treatments were going on, I kept running. I had initially asked the doctor if running, biking or swimming was aggravating the problem and he said, “Maybe, but I’m not going to ask you to stop. I don’t want you to stop.” This was the best thing the doctor could have said to me. If he had said something else, I may not have gone back.

LOGGING MY PROGRESS
Anyway, on the Monday after the first two treatments I actually felt like going for a tempo-run. And every Monday after that I went for another tempo-run to gauge my progress. Amazingly, by the second week I found myself wanting to do speed work more than once a week. By the fourth week I had shaved 1:41 per mile off my run four weeks prior. All the runs were on the same stretch of road, for six miles. Here is the average pace for the four weeks:

Week prior: 9:36
Week one: 9:06
Week two: 8:32
Week three: 8:12
Week four: 7:54

THE HEAVY WEIGHT LIFTED
My weight had not only returned to normal, I dropped an extra two pounds. How you say? Well, I had to think hard to figure out why but I think the answer will make sense when you hear it. There are a few things but the main reason is the fact that the pain went away. When your body is in pain it releases cortisol. Cortisol causes your body to gain weight, especially in the mid-section.

As babies, when we cry, whether it be because we are wet, colicky or hungry, the first thing we are offered is food. Over time, our brains relate food with comfort. This causes havoc in many people’s lives, especially when they suffer from a lot of sadness and stress. But it can also cause a person in constant pain to reach for food when nothing else seems to work. Since I suffered with a constant ache in my left leg I was mindlessly reaching for food to comfort me. It wasn’t until I decided to document my calorie intake that I realized what I was doing. Now that I am aware of it, I reach for a drink of water instead and remind myself what I am doing. When the pain is gone, the behavior stops.

That’s the other thing: the X-rays the doctor took revealed gastric issues. No amount of colon cleanses or fiber seemed to resolve the fullness I felt in my mid-section. I realized what I needed was to practice what I preach and drink more water. Water cleanses the body like no other thing. I made a conscious effort to drink about eight glasses of water throughout the day. My waist gradually returned to the hourglass shape I was used to.

TO BE CONTINUED
It the words of my chiropractor, as you unwind the spine all other issues will disappear. And he wasn’t just talking about back pain. When your spine is healthy, signals reach the brain, organs function better, your body moves forward with less effort, thought processes clear.

I’m entering my fifth week of therapy and am feeling better and more alive than ever. I’m excited about racing this year, I think it could be my best year ever. I will keep you posted on the outcome.
tri pic 2<
I'm also testing chiropractics on my son to see if it will help with bed wetting. After just three adjustments, he had his first dry night ever.

I should also mention that my chiropractor practices ABC chiropractics (Advanced Biostructural Correction)

#running #pain #chiropractics #weightloss #weightgain #bedwetting #backpain #sciatica #stress #cortisol #ABCchiropractics