Rabbit. Rabbit. Rabbit.
Here it is February 1st already. And I’m still staying true to my resolutions. I have actually increased my yoga home practice as well as added some beginning Pilates. But there’s one thing I haven’t addressed yet. Running.
I ran track in high school. I was a slightly above average “half-miler”. We still called it the 880 then – that’s how old I am. I trained more with the distance girls than the sprinters and occasionally ran a leg of the mile relay. I was so NOT a sprinter!!! I have to admit that I loved the training for track but hated the races. I wanted to quit almost every day of my sophomore year but it wasn’t allowed. I had to stick it out. I’m glad there was the no quitting rule at our house. Today I am glad. At the time I was miserable.
In college I ran for “fun”. I know that some people think that’s laughable. Or a lot crazy. Maybe both. But I did find that when I was angry or troubled lacing up the shoes and hitting the road were really helpful. I’m not sure it ever solved any problems but for that time I was running the issues weren’t issues at all. And there was something quite peaceful about an empty track at night.
Fast-forward a few years and I was a young, working mother with no time to run. I gave it a few shots but just found it really hard to work into a busy schedule. When my son was in 6th grade he joined the junior high cross country team. And that’s when my running “career” took off again. It was a necessity. Anyone who has ever been to a cross country meet knows that the only way to see your child run is to run yourself around the course to different vantage points. After a few weeks of huffing and puffing, I knew it was time to make a change. I was still teaching, but I committed to making it work. In the years I’d taken off, a wonderful thing called the Couch to 5K had come about and it was just what I needed. It’s evolved from just a plan to a podcast to an app. It’s my go-to app for starting up again after a few months off.
Once I left the classroom and had more time, I took my exercise much more seriously. I’ve never really been one for classes. I’ve tried a few over the years. Zumba was a disaster! I learned to love running again. And then on Halloween 2014 I had an accident that changed everything. I crushed a vertebra, fractured my sternum, and broke a rib. Doctors thought I’d been in a car accident and wasn’t telling the truth. Nope. I went down a slide. A big, fast, curvy slide on a playground with a crash and burn landing at the bottom. I know that I’m so very fortunate that I am walking and doing pretty much what I want. Initially I was told I couldn’t run for 6 months. You know how when someone tells you that you can’t do something and then that’s all you want to do? That was me.
The six month marker rolled around and I even then I knew I wasn’t really ready. It was the middle of summer and I’ve never run much in the hottest of months anyway because of my asthma. So I cooled my heels until September when I gave it a shot. The first week went well. So well that I was really quite thrilled. The second week was hell. EVERY SINGLE STEP hurt my back. I felt crushed. That wasn’t helped by the unpleasant conversations with my doctor who told me to “get used to the pain” and that my “life has changed”. That’s when I turned to my surgeon and PT back in Germany and started making some changes. (Yoga has been the biggest.) But I hadn’t run again. Let me tell you, fear really does suck!
So today I woke up and started thinking about my day and what I was going to do. And I was tired. And it was cold. (Can you hear the whining?) But I decided to give it another try because if I waited for the perfect time . . . well that probably never happens, right?
It went well. I started with week 2. But ran an extra 4 minutes at the end. It was cold, but not too cold. I’ve always been more of a cold weather runner and that has it’s own advantages:
- There’s just not many people out on the streets and sidewalks. This morning I saw one other runner. One walker and another walking her dog. And since school is in session and I went after the start time, there’s not much car traffic either. Avoiding the indoor treadmill at the gym means less exposure to those nasty winter cold and flu “bugs”. (Treadmills have always hurt my back – even before surgery so I avoid them all year.) I used to love running in snow but the fear of falling made me wait until our recent snow was gone. But who know, maybe I’ll get brave and try it again some day.
- Cold weather running is far less stressful on your body than hot, humid weather and can improve your endurance plus you can burn more calories since your body is working more to keep your temperature elevated. That’s a win-win situation.
- Running releases “feel good” endorphines that help elevate mood during the cold winter months so it’s a cure for those “winter blues”. Plus you get your daily dose of vitamin D.
- It helps to trick your body’s metabolism to prevent the seasonal slow down that happens during the winter months, as well as fighting the winter weight weight gain that plagues so many people, myself included.
So there you have it. Running “post-accident” part two.