Social Connections

What’s a runner to do when they are feeling down and out? Reach out and connect to other runners. The running community is made up of people from all walks of life.  We come in all different cultures, sizes, shapes, genders, religions and colors.  In this world of divisiveness, the running community is one of strong solidarity. When I was told last week I needed to get a MRI to rule out a femoral stress fracture I nearly lost it. I have worked so long and hard to run the New York City Marathon on November 5th. There was no way I could wrap my head around the thought of yet another injury delaying this goal. I decided then and there that no matter what I AM finishing this marathon.

Last Saturday, I put a post on my NYCM training page, comprised of hundreds of runners from all over the world, asking – “Are there any other injured souls out there interested in possibly walking the course and stopping for a beer in every borough?”  It was meant as a joke and a way to turn a negative situation into something positive.  I never anticipated the response to this post.  As I went through the day, I was totally distracted by the hundreds of responses that started pouring in immediately. Nancy Nowack was one of the first to respond and she truly has been a lightening rod in keeping this movement going.  And, as it turns out, we share the same running coach.  Coincidence we connected?  I think not!

What started as a simple joke post, ended up being a lifeline for many who thought they were down and out.  One runner responded from the Netherlands that this is his 39th NYC Marathon run and he planned to walk the entire course because he is currently unable to run.  Another, a runner said she plans to walk the course on crutches, something she has done at several other marathons.  My friend Helen, tore her meniscus and thought she was out of the marathon for a second year.  She now plans to walk the course.  Nancy decided to organize a separate Facebook group for anyone injured looking to still do the course that day.  It already has over 100 runners. Some of the comments I read this morning made my heart lift – “This group gave me renewed hope.”, “I can’t express what this group has done for my head, my anxiety has lessened.”  They even want to start a gratitude thread for Nancy!  YAY – way to lift each other up.

As for me, I still hope to run this race.  My coach Jessica is supporting my functional strength work and nutrition.   My MRI is scheduled for Thursday and the doctor promised me he’d read it and get back to me STAT with my results.  I know that even if it is a stress fracture, I’m pushing through that day to the finish line.  After that I’ll rest and recover.  I’ve come too far to give up and one more long run won’t kill me.  Most of my training is completed and I’m confident I can finish.  I never planned to win the darn race anyway, so who cares if it takes me a little bit longer to get it done.  Now, I also have the additional benefit of knowing there are so many other people in similar situations to mine who will be out there on the course that day.  What this experience has reminded me of, is that whenever you feel down and out reach out and make a human connection to others.  Don’t waste time on self pity, get yourself out there and find others who are in the same boat.  Together we can lift each other up and get this job done.  Together we are stronger than we are alone.

Are you injured, thinking you are down and out?  This post may be your lifeline to get back in the game.  Here’s how –

  1. Get an evaluation by a Functional Movement Specialist – Contact Jessica Leggio at    IMG_3210

Mention my blog and receive a free consultation visit to assess what could be preventing you from running.  This work is life changing and my only regret is that I didn’t find Jessica sooner.

2. Connect to our group of injured runners on Facebook at –

https://www.facebook.com/groups/162769204280794/

You’ll find many others walking similar paths and hopefully we will see you at the starting and finish line on 11/5/2017.

Drop me a line to get connected.  We are in this together!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Small Victories

Last week, I guess I hit a huge bump in the road.  My hip was sore, my feet hurt and I had a rough work week.   My running buddy was injured and out of the marathon and I was seriously questioning my ability to finish this thing.   Sunday, I planned to skip my long run as I just didn’t think I had it in me to do.

Sunday came and I decided to just give it a try.  I had nothing to lose since I already felt lost.   I put one foot in front of the other and started running.  13 miles later, I  met my husband down by the beach.  I was so proud of that run.   It was slow and steady and mostly pain free.   Could it be?   I felt like I had one foot on the ladder, ready to climb out of this darn pity party.

This week was a short work week. I met my trainer in Central Park on Thursday.   We did an hour of strength and she rolled my legs – ouch.   Off I went for a short 4 mile run in the park.  It felt slow, but when I got on the bus and looked at it I saw I had some nice segments.   Central Park is a tough run, so those PR segments really boosted my bruised ego.

This morning I met my trainer for our Saturday morning session.  I was sore from Thursday so her rolling helped.  After an hour of strength, activation and rolling I was ready to run.  I only needed a shorter run today as this is a recovery week.  I set my sights on Cat Hill and off I went.

Today’s run also had some strong segments, but overall these legs were tired.  I’m feeling like I’m in a much better space today.   My belief that I will finish marathon this has returned.  I wish I had more time to prepare, but it is what it is.

In speaking to other runners, there are many who are hurting right about now.  But, guess what, it’s supposed to be hard, it’s a marathon for heavens sake.  If it were easy it wouldn’t be a challenge and everybody would be doing it.  Just like I tell my students, the growth comes at the point of the struggle.   This week, I realized that I’m tougher than I thought.   It would’ve been easier to quit, truly.   But, then I’d be full of regret and have to do this all over again.  Nope, I’m not a quitter.  I’m in it to finish.  How about you?

Thanks Jessica for picking me back up off the floor.   Today I ran Central Park hills, tired but pain free.  http://runpainfreenow.com

How’s your training going?   What do you do when the going gets tough?   Leave me a messsage below.

Emotional Toll

Nobody warns you about the emotional toll of training for a marathon. You only envision the glory of the finish and even the accomplishments along the way. You hear all about losing toenails and the endless hours of running. But the emotional toll just kind of creeps in around 7 weeks out. Suddenly, that race that seemed so far away is fast approaching. You find yourself questioning your sanity and ability to even do this thing. You forget why in the world you even wanted to do it in the first place.

Unless you are an elite, professional runner, you are trying to fit this huge feat into your daily grind. Starts out ok, but trust me as the weeks move along it can become stressful. I happen to have a high stress job that pulls me in a million directions, usually at 90 mph. This is stress I manage pretty well on a daily basis. It is what is is. But, when you tack on this hefty training commitment it can become a bit much to handle.

During the summer, I have a ton of mind space for running and meal planning. There aren’t all these other demands on my body and emotions. An extra hectic school opening this year, full of life’s curveballs, has left me really tired this week. Whenever you deal with the emotions and needs of others you are bound to hit some bumps in the road. This training cycle has made me realize just how much of myself I give to everyone else and sadly how little I give myself.

My wonderful coach Jessica, http://runpainfreenow.com spent a lot of time today listening to me fall apart. She was patient and kind and for that I’m eternally grateful. Some days, I guess we need more than just a training session. Sometimes we need to hear that it’s ok to put ourselves first. To hear that while it is my job to shield my students from the stresses I absorb daily, that doesn’t mean I can’t share the load with the adults in my building. They, unlike my students, are adults. They too, if we are a team, should know the realities of what is faced on a daily basis to keep our school afloat. Maybe then they could gain some perspective beyond just their own. It can only serve to strengthen our team.

So, today I decided to put myself before anyone else. I’ll admit it felt quite selfish of me, but that’s the mindset that needs to change. Today, I spent time reading and relaxing after my trip to the city. I spent time in bed reading up on things I’m interested in. No news was on and no negativity permeated my zen space. I didn’t respond to work email, in fact I didn’t even read them.

Last night’s inability to sleep was my body warning me it’s on overload. I need to reel myself in and begin to set aside some time just for me. I am human like everyone else in my life and I too need time to recharge and rest. I can’t continue to put myself last.

As I move into this last phase of training my body is tired. My emotions are taking over and self doubt about my ability to finish are creeping in. I’m doubling down though and kicking that doubt to the curb. My coach and my running buddies will pull me through this race. The lessons I’ve learned about how I treat my own emotional needs will stick with me beyond the finish line. I matter and I am important.

Has your training begun to wear you down too? Do you have a coach like mine who is available 24/7 to get you through? If not, how are you surviving it? Leave your comments below.

Scaffolds

In education when a child is not quite ready for a task we offer them a scaffold.  If a math problem is too complex for them we break it into smaller, more manageable parts.   In reading, we offer them books at their independent reading level, rather than expecting them all to read the same book.  Yet, when it comes to exercise tasks we tend to reject all scaffolds offered.  We look at these scaffolds as a sign of weakness rather than what they truly are, a way to lift us up and enable us to finish the task.

On today’s run, I started to think about this connection and realized I’m just as guilty as anyone of rejecting scaffolds.  I like to say I’m stubborn, determined or a true warrior.   Somehow lately I’m realizing that I’m foolish and letting my ego guide me rather than my common sense.

Scaffolds for runners are meant to help, not hinder, their development.  If the body is not quite ready to do what you are asking of it, you could end up getting injured.  Trust me, this I know first hand!  Building and developing the right muscles for the activity you want to perform is not an option.  You must spend the time and do the work to have proper functionality.   If something along your muscular chain is weak, something else will become overloaded and injury could follow.  My coach has finally got that point seared in my stubborn, I mean foolish, brain. I have now added some scaffolding to my training to ensure that I make it not only to the starting line, but also to the finish.

Since my Achilles has been giving me trouble, I’ve added the scaffold of running intervals on my runs.  This scaffold builds breaks for this muscle into each run.  Without them the repetitive motion over three hours could really put a strain on my Achilles.   It’s also been allowing me to work more on my form, hopefully developing the right muscle groups.   Another scaffold I’m embracing is slowing my pace on long runs.   Long runs are meant to develop endurance, not pace, so I’ve given myself permission to turn off the app that tells me my pace as I’m running.  My friend who has run 7 marathons shared with me that you can never run too slow on a long run.  He said during his training for his first marathon he ran himself into the ground.   During that race he barely finished with anything left in his tank.   Sounds like I need to slow it down on those long runs immediately.

Finally, today I gave myself the accommodation of flexibility.   I’m a very schedule driven runner.   I like to run super early to avoid car traffic and heat.  If I don’t go by 6:00 AM, I start stressing and thinking about running another day.  I never sleep in on weekends either.   Today, after two exhausting days at work, I woke at 3:00 AM ready to get moving.  I came down, had a bowl of oatmeal and cup of coffee. I then walked right back up and got back in my bed. I turned on the hurricane reports and before I knew it I decided to go back to sleep thinking I’d run tomorrow instead.   I woke again at 8:00, got up and did my pre-run activation routine. Then I went out and did my scheduled long run.  Honestly, it felt good to not rush out to run.  Sometimes we need to give ourselves permission to change the plan, but not permission to skip it.

Scaffolds do not mean you’re any less or a runner than another.  They mean you are focused on completing your task.  Thanks coach Jessica for readjusting my perspective.

How are your workouts going?   Are you forcing yourself through them, or loving them?   If, like me you are running in pain, consider calling Jessica for a consultation.  She can truly help get you back on the road again.  Her site is https://www.runpainfreenow.com and her Twitter handle is #runpainfree .  Tell her Laura recommended you and get your consultation booked.  Let me know how it goes. It could be life changing.

Run, Roll, Ice, Rest, Repeat

As my long runs grow longer I’ve started changing things up.  Running 4-6 miles alone is not a problem.  The time is meditative and therapeutic and goes by pretty quickly.  Running 13+ miles alone can be dreadfully long and boring, at least for me.  After mile 7, when alone, I find myself mentally whining about everything.  I joined a running club last year but didn’t go to the meet ups to run with them. I was training for a half and the longest long run I had on the schedule was 10 miles.  I just didn’t feel the need to push myself to go into the city to run when I could run here and be done that much sooner.   This year is very different and boy was I missing out!  Every weekend when the long run rolls around I start looking for ways to make it more interesting and enjoyable.  Life begins at the end of your comfort zone is a saying I look at on my daily coffee cup.  Time to step out of the comfort of running in my neighborhood and join others who are on the same journey as me.

Today I got up at 4:00 to catch a 5:00 AM train to travel 2 hours by train, ferry, train to meet up with my running club.

An added benefit my childhood friend Helen who is running the marathon with me decided to meet me there also.  I can’t say that when that my husband woke me with – “Are you sure you want to do this?  You sure you want to travel 4 hours to run 2? You can run right here.” – I jumped out of bed eager to make the trek.  Really supportive way to open my eyes, but he is right it is a long way to travel to run and adding 2 hours before and after the run surely does extend the time I need to devote to it.  Luckily it’s once a week that the long run rolls around.

When I first arrived in the city, I was super excited to see Helen.  We quickly caught up and joined the club members gathering on Chambers and Centre Street in a small park.  We listened to the route plans and before we had time to think about it we were off running.  The city was alive with runners, bikers and just so many people out there getting fit.  Our group had a group of 8 women who all are training for the marathon.  For some it’s a repeat – one runner said this is her 6th time running it.  For us it is our first and we were so excited to be running with a group of like minded women.  It was so uplifting to share the long run with others and the time did go by faster than it would have had I been alone.

 

My running had become such a routinized event – run, roll, ice feet & legs, rest, repeat.  Each day the same, over and over and over again.  Sometimes you start to lose the fun of it all.  Yesterday as I ran with these beautiful women, I felt like I was enjoying myself instead of stressing over pace, time, distance, heart rate, etc. etc. etc.  I felt lighter and really enjoyed talking and laughing as I ran.  And when we finished I didn’t even mind running another mile to make the ferry to get home.  Maybe it was the change of scenery, but I believe it was the company.

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So this week, think about what you are doing each day.  If your workout feels like a chore, or an item to check off your list, think about how you infuse some fun into it.  What would make it less routinized and more carefree?  For me, infusing a group long run on the weekend has reenergized me and made me look forward to next week’s long run, rather than dreading it.  Yes, it is still HARD work out there, but as I said last week – I get by with a little help from my friends.

Let me know how it’s going for you, please leave a comment below.