Comeback Setback

No, the hurricane wasn’t the setback. I actually went running through my beloved city quite a few times post-hurricane to get an idea of what downtown looked like. It wasn’t pretty.

What a mess.

No matter the setback specifics, it just sucks. This last surgery and the following ridiculousness has set me way back in my getting-back-to-me journey.

Oh, back to the surgical floor again? Terrific.

I want to run and lift and spin and flow and get back to racing. It just seems that every time I turn the corner, there’s a wall. Mentally and emotionally, it’s exhausting and depressing.

Have you ever tried and tried and just not been able to get a freaking break? That’s what it feels like now.

I guess this is just where I am.

It’s not easy to feel like my body is fighting me at every turn. It sucks. Yeah, I’m pretty positive most of the time and I feel positive most of the time. But how do I get myself going again? Dammit.

I signed up for a 10K. There’s hot chocolate at the end of it and it’s in 6 weeks. That’s a challenge for me since 3 miles gets me going right now. I don’t anticipate any great speed, but I’ll give it a go.

Mmmm…chocolate.

I also am planning on logging a few miles with a fellow recovering gimp. It will be fun since we’ve never actually met except for virtually through an old friend. Fun!

When I’m all healed up, I’m going to let this man kick my butt.

Ladies & gents, if you want to kick your a** get to Steven’s class. Game changer. ¬† (Image courtesy of Flywheel Sports)

 

I don’t want pity. I’m just saying that sometimes even the most positive, internally motivated people get the blues. Instead of wallowing, I’m fighting back.

I’m signing up for races even though I’m not ready to race, per se. That is, not in tip-top shape. But it’ll be FUN! I’m signing up for spin classes not because my numbers are gonna be awesome but because I know I’ll feel better when I leave class. I’m planning my spring running adventures and making sure I tell people so that they *secretly* hold me accountable.

Do what you know you need to do. Get out there. Go workout with a friend (or in my case, a stranger), force those workouts back into your schedule.

That’s what I’m doing. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Now go out and run!

The Sucky Part

Wow. I am in a craptastic mood today. Sorry in advance for the venting.

I am not normally bummed out about running these days. Sure, my organs devoured my muscles to fix themselves. And yeah, I have no discernible muscle definition. So what if I lack strength just about everywhere in my body. Can’t be all bad, right?

Not the face of someone who is pissed off.

These days, I am normally all “Hey, world, I can run! Outside! 7 weeks post-surgery! Boom!”

But sometimes, it sucks. And sometimes, the sucky part hangs around for a while. Like only being able to do 3 miles because it’s so freaking hot outside. And realizing that my idea of speed work is kind of a joke. And being passed in Central Park.

Super annoyed.

I hate being passed by people I KNOW I used to be able to keep up or pass like they were standing still pre-surgery.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of where I am and how far I’ve come. I made a new friend who actually ran with my slow ass a couple of times and reminded me that it’s actually pretty cool that I’m running at all, given what my body has been through. She’s smart. I’m going to start listening to her.

Hooked up to 5 separate lines. Who knew I’d be running in 4 weeks? Not bad.

But I can’t catch my breath. Or find a rhythm. My legs always feel like lead. It seems as though my muscles are on vacation. It sucks. It is NEVER easy. My body just doesn’t feel like it used to.

I guess that’s the point. It never will.

I will get faster and stronger and, one day, be able to lift more than 20 pounds. Until then, I just have to muddle through the sucky part as best I can, I suppose.

Having to study all day every day is definitely not helping my sucky attitude. 7 more weeks!

Sound off! What’s the sucky part of your runs/workouts these days? Hot summer days sucking your will to live? Weight room jammed with summertime meatheads? Vacation/work/people getting in the way of your workout? Let’s all talk about the sucky parts together ūüôā

Now go out and run.

(Or, for me, shuffle on down 2nd Ave. Ugh. I will be more cheerful tomorrow. Promise.)

Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: New {Old} Milestones

Are you sick of me talking about my post-surgery life/changes/milestones yet? No? Good.

And happy Better Than the Alternative Tuesday to you!

I was chatting with a friend last night and when she asked me how I’m feeling these days, I immediately went to how my runs are going. What can I say, I’m happy to be back! Anyway, I was telling her how hard it is to run just 3 miles when a little over a two months ago I was knocking out 8 or 10 like it was nothing.

*sigh*

I don’t get down on myself about this. Trust me, I celebrate running 3 miles as though I had just run 26.2.

You might think I’m kidding about the dancing part. I am not.

What my friend and I chatted about was how NEW it felt to run/workout again. It’s like my body has never done it before, except it has. FOR 22 YEARS!!!! I don’t even remember my first run being as hard on my poor hamstrings as any of these last week’s runs have been.

The last time I remember feeling like death on a run was my first practice as a freshman on my high school’s cross country team. I went from running 2 mile races to doing 5Ks. That may not seem like a big leap to you, but the warmup was 1 1/2 miles.

In August.

In Chicago.

In cotton.

*shudder*

It was torture. I was the last one in on the entire team and the coach turned to one of the captains and said, “What do you think of the newbie?” Thankfully, he said, “She’ll do fine.” So I stayed. Imagine if he said something different.

My face probably would’ve looked something like this. I make the same face for disappointing Christmas present wrapping as I do for when I don’t make the cut on the cross country team.¬†

I remember my first race with that team. It was my first 5K. 3.1 miles, which was “long distance” running to me. I was so proud of myself for training, for finishing, even if I didn’t place. It was such a milestone for me. On Sunday I ran 3.1 miles for the first time post-surgery and hit a New {Old} Milestone and felt that same feeling of accomplishment.

Yesterday I blasted through another New {Old} Milestone and finished my first Flywheel class post-surgery. It was HARD. Harder than the original first one I took. But I was so pumped to have been there, working hard with my favorite teacher, that my numbers didn’t matter. Just being in the classroom and sweating like an animal put a smile on my face.

Pretty sure I wasn’t this smiley after yesterday’s class. More like, half-smile *gasp* “No pictures, please.”

I have celebrated a lot of New {Old} Milestones since surgery. Walking. Showering. Washing my own hair. Walking by myself. Dressing myself. Making my own food. Walking as fast as my fellow New Yorkers (I definitely called the Obi-wans when this one happened!). Running. Spinning. Staying awake all day without a nap.

(Ok, that last one is more out of necessity. I kinda miss my mid-day naps.)

I do soooooo love a nap.

Some of these may seem silly to you, but I remember doing many of them for the first time. And now I remember hitting these New {Old} Milestones a second time, which is even sweeter.

New {Old} Milestones make me feel like I’m making progress. Actual, tangible progress. Every time I hit–and blast through!–one, I feel more and more like myself. Surgery can take away that feeling of self. So can injury. Or any other life change. Meeting these New {Old} Milestones reminds me that it’s just a matter of time and patience before I feel like me again. 100% me.

And that feeling makes being here any day so much Better Than the Alternative.

Have you ever hit a New {Old} Milestone due to a change in your life? How did it feel? Did you do a dance like I did? Share your story in the comments ūüôā Also, did anyone run this morning? It’s 57¬į in NYC!!!! ¬†

Now go out and run!

What It’s Like

Thank you, thank you, thank you all who have sent well-wishes to me as I continue to recover from surgery. I kinda think I’m out of the recovery stage and into the comeback stage at this point. The answer to the “How are you feeling?” question is always the same, “Good!”

Two thumbs up, ya’ll! Totally ready to run.

Really. I’m good. I’m back. I’m just slow.

Yesterday I ran to Central Park with my lululemon Run Club buddies to coach during what was probably the one of the hottest nights in New York City in a long time. Well, since last summer.

It was brutal. Not for me, for them.

I am the CHAMPION!!!! The champion with flabby arms. Ugh.

Running is different for me now. I don’t know, nor do I care, what my pace is. I wear capris even though it’s 90¬į. I have to focus so much more on what I’m feeling than ever before.

Things move and flex differently. My new gear gets a little funky every now and then and I want to stop and see if I can adjust it. I know full well I cannot, there’s nothing to do, and if it’s really that big of a nuisance I should just stop.

It has not yet come to that.

But everything feels different.

I breathe heavier.¬†I have more physical distractions.¬†One mile seems like forever. My legs can’t push as hard or as fast. My abdominals are trying their best to do what they know they should, despite the new restrictions. My back suddenly has a lot of work to do. My arms are more tired.

But in my head, I am happy as a clam. Because, although everything feels different and is harder and wears me down faster and doesn’t do exactly what it used to, I can still run. And I will get better, faster, stronger. Today’s run is just today. I will go farther tomorrow or next week. I will be faster next month. Those feelings will change and my body will adapt. That’s just what the body does, it adapts. Slowly, painfully adapts.

And slowly, hopefully not too painfully, I will be back into running shape.

Running shape…like Kara Goucher. Ok, maybe not exactly like Kara, but maybe my best version. Who am I kidding? I’m just hoping to get some definition back to my body AT ALL.

That’s what it’s like for me these days. What about you? How does it feel for you to run today? I imagine the general consensus will be “HOT” but what else do you feel? Tell me all about it.

Now go out and run!

You Got To Know When To Fold ‘Em

A study done by the University of Groningen in the Netherlands that was recently¬†reported by the NY Times¬†showed that 1 in 5 novice runners sustain running injuries and 30-40% of them will give up running entirely as a result. This makes me sad. Did they give up because they didn’t know how to treat the injury? Did their *pardon my saying this if you are a doctor who says this to runners*¬†doctors tell them to “just stop running”? Did they think they couldn’t overcome the injury and keep running? Well, YOU CAN!¬†You can get better and be back on the road in no time if you know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em.

Several years ago, I experienced pain in my hip like I’d never had before in my previous 19 years of running. It was just this one spot on my hip that was super-tender and hurt when I walked, ran or climbed the stairs. I foam rolled, I rested, I took it easy for a few days and I could not make the pain go away. It was absolutely ruining my workouts. On my 29th birthday, I found myself in an orthopedic surgeon’s office for the first time. At least, I think it was the first time. I’d only sprained my ankles before, but I think that was all emergency-room visits. I digress. I feared the worst.

It was not the worst. Not even close. I am a big scaredy cat.

I had strained my left side glutueus medius, that’s all. I’d worked it too hard and hadn’t strengthened it enough to warrant the amount of work I was asking it to do for me out on the road. ¬†I was relegated to the recumbent bicycle and swimming until further notice and given a prescription for physical therapy. ¬†Lucky for me, I was given the name of ¬†one of the coolest PTs in Manhattan. I walked into my physical therapist’s office and I think the first thing I asked him was, “How long do you think it’ll take before I get to run again?” He was cool (and did not openly laugh at or mock me) and told me that depended entirely on my commitment to the exercises he gave me. I did all of my homework (which includes some of my now-famous hip rotator exercises)¬†and rested my poor little booty.

Miracle of miracles! I was back running in four weeks! Ok, so I was running one mile on the treadmill at four weeks post-diagnosis, but I was running, nonetheless. You know why? I knew when to fold ’em. I couldn’t fix my pain with the usual methods: ice, rest, stretching, etc. I needed to call in the pros and get some electro-stim on those inflamed attachment sites, have someone myofascially release the super-tight tendons of my little hip rotators and teach me to strengthen my itty bitty rotators, not just my big ‘ol gluteus maximus.

**Here’s the dirty little secret that you don’t hear very often: whatever exercises are prescribed to you for your specific injury, you are going to have to do them for the rest of your running career in order to avoid said injury again. Sorry, it’s true. You became injured in that place for a reason, usually because that particular tendon/muscle/ligament is weaker than the others and will always need special attention. Just get used to it.**

Moral of the story? You gotta know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em. If a few days’ rest, ice, elevation and a healthy dose of NSAIDs doesn’t make your pain go away, time to call in the experts. Get a physician’s opinion, heck, get two! And then be on your way to healing. If that path includes physical therapy, DO NOT BLOW IT OFF. Treat it like you would any other medication: take it religiously and do everything they tell you to do.¬†If you’ve got a nagging pain, don’t ignore it. Pain is indication of something being wrong inside. Get on it sooner rather than later and avoid being out of the game longer than you absolutely have to be.

Now go out and run!