So I was out on a short little jaunt after work this week when the embarrassing happened: I fell.
I stubbed my toe on a broken sidewalk and went down like a sack of potatoes. Nothing was hurt but my pride.
This totally happened because I wasn’t paying attention. I was going through a neighborhood that wasn’t my own, and I was busy admiring all the houses around me. When I tripped, I was looking left – actually almost looking backwards. So, of course, what happens in this quiet neighborhood with no traffic? Traffic shows up. Nobody offered to see if I was OK, which was probably a good and bad thing.
I was telling my husband about it later and he said, “Did it feel like it was happening in slow motion?”
Yes. It did feel like that. Because I was in slow motion. That’s when I realized that when it comes to running, everything I do is slow. Even falling.
This summer, my mom bought me a jogging stroller so I could take my little girl out on runs with me. Well, it turned out to be the hottest summer this side of Hell. I haven’t taken my daughter out really at all. I took her on a walk here and there, but this weekend I finally took her on a run.
My training schedule called for five miles. At my pace, that’s about a 12-hour run. Or maybe it just feels like it. Mia and I headed down to the trails at the Oklahoma River for our big outing. I stashed a book, a music toy and a stuffed cow in the storage mesh under her seat just in case she needed a distraction.
Lucky me: she didn’t need any kind of distraction. She watched everything with wide eyes. She pointed at the river and the egrets wading in the shallow water. She saw birds flit from tree to tree. She watched grasshoppers bounce across the trail and into the grass.
Until mile four. Then, she was done.
Mia isn’t a whiner or a crier, but I could tell she was ready to go when she tossed her sunglasses over the side of her stroller.
I cut my run a mile short, but it was so fun taking her out. I’m sure I’ll drag her along in the future. On my short runs.
This morning I overslept, so instead of running 3 miles as planned, I had enough time for 1 sad, little mile. (When you’re as slow as I am, there’s a big difference in time between 1 mile and 3.) When I woke up so, so late, I really wanted to give up because I was under a time crunch instead of having lots of time to kick around. I tried to think of all my other excuses, and then I realized I have a list of five favorites.
5. It’s too hot/cold/wet/rainy/windy/bright/dark outside! (If you wait for a perfect, 74-degree day in Oklahoma, you’ll only get to run, like, twice all year.)
4. I don’t know where I want to run. (Sometimes it’s OK to go out and not know your exact route. As a moderate Type A personality, I’m still working on doing this one.)
3. My favorite running pants are in the wash. (The secret to running success is always the pants, right?)
2. I forget how far I’m supposed to go today, and my training plan is at the office/gym/house. I better not go because I don’t want to go the wrong distance. (Running isn’t a math formula. You don’t get it right or wrong.)
And my favorite excuse for not getting up and running …
1. It’s too early. *snooze button* It’s too early. *snooze* Too early. *snooze* Aaah! Now it’s too late! (Cheater.)
What have we learned? No excuse is a good one.
Whenever I start out on my run, my body always disagrees about what we’re doing. It’s always upset and pretty sure that napping would be a much better option. I loved the Runner’s World Daily Kick in the Butt for today.
Your body will argue that there is no justifiable reason to continue. Your only recourse is to call on your spirit, which fortunately functions independently of logic.
- Tim Noakes, author of Lore of Running
I had a quick powwow with the fitness expert at our gym, and the news was better than I expected.
Even after a three-month hiatus, my body isn’t completely mad at me for giving up running. OK, it’s kind of mad, but it’s not the end of the world. The fitness guru told me about muscle memory. Here’s what Wikipedia says (because the dictionary isn’t interested, apparently):
When a movement is repeated over time, a long-term muscle memory is created for that task, eventually allowing it to be performed without conscious effort. This process decreases the need for attention and creates maximum efficiency within the motor and memory systems.
So even thought my muscles have been in hibernation for three months, they haven’t forgotten how good it feels to run.
They’re just going to be a little cranky about being woken up. The more I pull on my running shoes and drag myself out of the house, the more quickly I’ll feel like training again.
The bad thing, though, is that fitness is something else completely. After three weeks, fitness disappears. Just three weeks! I think this quote from Runners World says it best:
Your mind remembers what it was like to run but your body can’t quite pull it off.
Now if I can just get my mind and my body off the couch.
For my past couple of outings, I’ve had to cut my run short because of a pounding headache. I’ve never experienced this before, so it was kind of creepy to be jogging along and then BAM! I don’t get migraines or anything, so I had to do some research. Here are some common reasons runners get headaches.
Well, I have never in my life had a problem eating enough carbs. Ever. And even though I won’t pass up on the chance for a nap, I’m getting enough sleep.
The problem: the heat. My body was getting too hot too quickly.
I thought heat sickness was for the very young, the very old and people who spent all day working outside. Turns out, I’m an idiot. I was ignoring the signs of heat sickness:
- Headache or intense heat buildup in the head.
- Confusion or lack of concentration.
- Loss of muscular control.
- Over-sweating followed by clammy skin and cessation of sweating.
- Hot and cold flashes.
- Upset stomach, muscle cramps, vomiting, dizziness.
Runner’s World offers lots of tips for running during hot weather. These are my favorites:
- Acclimate with care. It takes up to two weeks to acclimate.
- Wear light, loose clothing.
- Start slowly. Lengthen your pace by a few minutes.
- Bag it if it’s too hot. Some days are going to be dangerous. It’s OK to run inside, cross-train or just give it a pass.
Running inside might be better than trying to gut it out when I’m not ready. I’m not a fan of headaches.
OK, so my friend Megan is a liar.
She’s the one who talked me into running in the first place, and I’m so, so, so glad she did. As I’m getting back into the swing of running, I’ve been looking to Megan again for help and inspiration. We were going to run with the Landrunners this Saturday but decided to do a shorter, easier run to really kick-start our training. We’ll do something easy, Megan says. We’ll do something short, Megan says. We’ll go run on this “nice little dirt path” she knows about, Megan says.
This was my first outing in the Oklahoma heat, and my longest run since starting back up. Let me just say, I was wholly unprepared for the heat, and I was 100 percent unprepared for the trail. Somewhere around mile 2 I thought, “I’m going to die out here. I’m going to literally sweat to death, and some cyclist is going to have to pick me up and move me out of the way so people can ride past my body.”
Well, luckily that did not happen. But it was seriously a close call. Afterwards, Megan said that it was a little more of a technical run than she remembered. So maybe she isn’t a liar – just a mis-remember-er.
This is how the Oklahoma Earthbike Fellowship describes it:
Tight and Twisty = Not so easy
Mickey Mouse roller-coaster type trail. Very tight singletrack with lots of turns, trees, drop-ins adn climbs.
Mickey Mouse roller-coaster? I nearly died. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how much fun I had. It had lots of challenges and problems to solve that you don’t find on a treadmill, that’s for sure. It was fantastic. I’m going to sneak back out there some morning again. Hopefully the heat will break so I can have another shot at taking on Bluff Creek.
Everyone in the school knows Marcus, and not because he is a model student. Marcus is “that kid,” the one who never turns in an assignment on time, has to sit on the curb during recess for fighting, the one who never misses an opportunity to make a substitute cry. Teachers view Marcus in multiple ways; a cross to bear, a project, a right of passage, one of the many kids we teach every day who has seen too much, knows too much, and has been let down too much. And yet for all of his problems, issues, and mischief, there is something about Marcus that draws you to him.
I have been teaching long enough to know that love alone won’t save Marcus and discipline alone won’t save him either. Our wishes and hopes for him will not help Marcus succeed in and of themselves. Marcus has to learn to overcome. He has to learn to work. We can help, but we can’t do everything.
I have to admit that when he came out for the marathon club, I was a bit shocked. “Will I get one of those plaques if I complete the marathon?” he asked on the first day of practice. Yes, I answered, but you have to complete every component of the R3 program: the reading, the math, and the running.
I’ve taken my husband’s dog out running with me, but I”m usually just depressed that she can go miles and miles and miles without getting tired. Then someone shared this with me:
Everyone knows that dogs love to run around. But most dogs don’t like to run like Dozer.
The three-year-old Goldendoodle was a last-minute entry into last weekend’s Maryland Half Marathon. His parents didn’t even know he was running!
According to Karen E. Warmkessel, a spokeswoman for the University of Maryland Medical Center, Dozer escaped an invisible fence, lured by the thousands of racers running past his home, which sits near the Mile Five mark. The race benefitted the hospital’s Greenebaum Cancer center.
Dozer joined the pack. Runners reported seeing him at several points along the route. The pup crossed the finish mark with other runners — clocking in at 2 hours and 14 minutes!
That dog had a much better time than I did, and I bet he didn’t even train.
Sunday marked the beginning of my downfall. For the first time in my life, I had back pain.
As the day wore on, my back felt worse. Monday was even worse. Yesterday, I went home in tears. I could barely shuffle to my car. A friend carried my laptop. Then I couldn’t carry it into the house on my own. I had to wait for my husband’s help when he got home.
I visited a chiropractor recommended by my boss, who saw the same doctor for a bad hiop. It helped a bit, but the pain didn’t subside. I went to our family doctor, who adjusted my back and then explained that I was having back spasms.
Apparently this isn’t just your average Charley Horse. I’ve had it for days. I guess I imagined this would appear and then disappear after massage or even just on its own. But apparently that’s not how it works sometimes. He gave me a muscle relaxor, which released the muscles. I returned to the chiropractor today, and it helped even more.
I’ve been stretching like crazy, taking ibuprofen that my doctor prescribed and icing, icing, icing. My doctor recommended upping my Pilates workouts from weekly to as many as three times a week.
So what does this mean for Sunday?
My goal is to still run. Even if I can’t run the whole way – even if I have to take 100 hours – I’m going to finish this race. I’ve worked too hard to sit out.