“Running” to the bathroom: Advice for the LADIES (only*)…Beyond Kegels *(seriously guys, leave now)

Featured

The first time I heard of vaginal weights I was listening to Howard Stern on the radio, he was interviewing this guy who was complaining because he had divorced his wife a year ago and she started using vaginal weights soon after. She came back home just long enough to shag him once and show him what he was missing. At that point I was in my early twenties, was newly married and had no kids. I assumed that vaginal weights were some sort of dirty sex toy. 

doll

Now fast forward 15 years. I am older, (almost 40) wiser, (I know there is no such thing as a dirty sex toy!) I have kids, (two to be precise) and I am a #runner. I hang out with ladies who confess to me that they plan their run routes according to available pee stops. portapottyI know women who examine race routes, studying where every port-o-poty is to determine if they can in fact finish the race without peeing themselves. Some ladies I know will only run at the gym on a track that is within just yards of the nearest restroom.

Not me, I’m just fine when I run…as long as I don’t stop. I can run ten miles and never have to worry about losing control, it’s when I stop briefly to let my dog sniff a mailbox that the floodgatesfloodgates suddenly open and I find myself bent over, clamping my crossed legs shut while yelling at myself for being an incontinent fool.

As women runners, we have two problems: we are women, and we are runners.runnwe Most women have had children and this drastically affects the muscles that control our bladder (pelvic muscles). The pressure of carrying a child weakens the pelvic muscles and seems to weaken the sphincter muscle which keeps the urethra (urine tube) closed. Even if you haven’t had kids, eventually you may have problems just because you have gone through menopause, which also seems to weaken the pelvic muscles.

But above all, as runners, we are continually pounding those same muscles, weakening them. Imagine yourself running and unless you are always squeezing your muscles, like you are actively trying not to pee, then your pelvic muscles are bouncing up and down freely like a huge bungee cord stretched loosely between to people. ropesThey stretch out and loosening more and more over time. Sadly, because we are runners, we are adding to the problem.

I’m sure you’ve tried Kegels; you know, the exercises where you stop your pee mid-stream repeatedly in an attempt to strengthen your pelvic muscles. The problem is, you have to remember to do them all the time in order to see any improvement. And if you take a break for a few days, you are back to square one.

Enter the vaginal weight. Vaginal WeightsI can’t recall how I discovered these little things but I have to tell you that every day that has passed without me telling you all about them is a day I have felt guilty. I feel like I’ve been keeping a secret from a close friend…a secret that will make you stop peeing yourself. I’m sorry. Please forgive me.

Vaginal weights usually come in sets, mine came in a set of six weights, each progressively heavier. You first figure out which weight is a good starting point for you. You do this by inserting the lightest, see if you can walk around without losing it, (i’m sorry, you just have to bear with me here) you should do this while wearing underwear because these things could break tile if dropped on it correctly.broken tile Once you find a weight you can’t hold, you use the weight that is one step lighter. This weight should be used for 15 minutes twice a day until you have no problem holding it. Then you start using the next heaviest weight the same way until finally you can hold the heaviest weight for 15 minutes twice a day. At that point you can go to once a day or a couple times a week to maintain pelvic muscle fitness.

I know this seems like a huge dedication but it really isn’t as bad as it sounds. If you make it a habit of using them in the morning while showering showerand getting ready it’s a perfect addition to your morning and evening ritual. You will be surprised how quickly you will advance through the weights, possibly in just a week or two. I did. And the best part? They really do work, and they work quickly.

A couple side notes: I noticed that the time of the month (your hormones)hormones affect your pelvic muscle strength. Don’t get discouraged if you find yourself having to use lighter weights sometimes.

For added strength training and benefits, try walking up and down stairs while using them or doing light exercises. stairs

And finally, there is an added benefit that I didn’t mention but you’ve probably already figured out: they improve your sex life. happyIf your husband throws a fuss about you spending a little cash on MORE exercise equipment, just tell him the truth: they aren’t weights, they are dirty little sex toys! He will get right on board.

Here is a link to Amazon, these are the weights that I bought. (I am now an affiliate on the suggestions of blog readers, hope you are not upset). I hope you have the same benefits. Please post in the comments if you are brave enough. And guys, if you read this whole thing I hope you have a little more respect for us ladies and all we go through!man

#Running #women #exercise #incontinence #peeing

Advertisements

Who Cares? I do! (Just weeks away from my 20 year reunion…)

I sent out a tweet last week that said: Every time I think about eating garbage, I remind myself that my 20 year reunion is in less than a month. I had quite a few retweets and a couple of tweeps that said they had their reunions coming up this summer too… but the response that caught my attention was the reply that said: @dianeistrong, you shouldn’t care what others think. 

My mind instantly floated back to those afterschool specials with the heart-felt, all warmy-feeling messages about self-esteem and confidence.

aa free to beaa growing pains

You’re right, I thought, I shouldn’t care what people think of me.  But then I thought, the hell I shouldn’t! 

I’ve been staring at the nine bug bites on my stomach wondering when the hell they will go away. They’ve been there for weeks and I look like I have chickenpox!  It’s like they are trying to compete with the gallbladder surgery scars on my navel and between the rib cage.2013-07-16 14.48.55

I’m not nearly as concerned about those nine bites as I am about the six that are on by bikini line.  It looks like I got in a fight with a rusty razor.  (Sorry, no picture, I just couldn’t bring myself to post it.) This morning I found myself applying triple antibiotic ointment to them in hopes of a speedier healing.  The second day of our reunion is going to be spent at the beach (what kind of sick test is this!), I can’t have these things on me with 200+ classmates judging me.

Of course the rash I get in my armpits from my homemade deodorant probably won’t look too hot  with my swimsuit either.  2013-07-16 14.47.26If you catch me swimming or sunbathing with my shorts on and my arm held tight to my sides and my hands wrapped around my waist in a tangled mess then you can be sure the damn things didn’t heal in time.

I almost forgot about that line of cuts on the top of my shin that I re-nick every time I shave my legs.  Even if they did heal, I’m going to have white spots on my legs because I essentially shaved off my suntan.  2013-07-16 14.49.51There is one good thing about the nicks, they take away from the bulging varicose vein on the inside of my calf.  Beautiful.  In the right light, it looks like a really sick muscle.

And the scars.  They have really accumulated over the years.  The 12 inch scar on my arm (thank you Brad Clayton) was there at the ten-year reunion2013-07-16 15.26.27

but I have a few new ones to add.  Of course there are the Tiger Stripes (that’s what my hubby calls them anyway) on my lower back (thank you children)2013-07-16 15.00.00, the silver dollar sized hole in my left leg (thank you Black Lab on the bike ride two years ago)2013-07-16 14.58.32 and all those scars on my knees (thank you trail race where I biffed and two tough mudders), 2013-07-16 14.55.08the scar from the gallbladder removal (as mention above)…I could go on but I’m pretty sure you get the gist.

It is very obvious that I am not perfect.  I am flawed like most people.  And if it weren’t for Facebook, that fact may be a little easier to admit.  See, when Facebook first arrived in my life about six years ago, I had just found running.  I found myself updating my status on a daily basis, bragging about how far I ran and what place I got at some local Podunk race. I still can’t help but tell everyone when I manage to do something that seems really awesome…at least to me.

bragging

Don’t we all seem kind of awesome in our own special way on Facebook?  Forever witty, only posting the very best pictures of ourselves.  It’s the persona we want the world to see (though my persona is especially challenged when it comes to spelling and grammar), especially the ‘friends’ we’re pretty sure won’t ever see again…except at our highschool reunion.

Of course, of the hundreds of friends I have on Facebook, only about twelve actually see my postsaa eggs 12

and of those twelve people…maybe one or two might care, maybe.

aa 2 eggs 2

So they are really the only people I need to maintain my persona  with.    This takes quite a bit of pressure off.  Unfortunately, I don’t know who those two people are.

And when I really think about it, those two people may or may not show up for the reunion so statistically there might be one person who cares.  And now that I think about it, what kind of judgmental, self-righteous, capricious, not to mention superficial, person would give a crap about some chick they went to school with twenty years ago?  I mean really, that’s a little sick, right?  Like maybe they need to be put away or confined…maybe have a little one-on-one with a doctor in a cold room painted lime green.  Right?  Are you feel’in me here?

aa cracked egg

Now that I take a closer look at the crazy, whacked-out egg, I can see who it is, it’s me. I’m the only one who cares what I look like at the reunion.  I can’t believe I just posted all those pictures of my flaws (they physical ones…haha, you don’t want to see pictures of the mental ones!) I feel better now that I have all that out on the table, however, thanks for listening.  This chick thanks you for it.aa one egg

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

<a

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

<a

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