Stronger than you think

I looked up from the TV monitor attached to the elliptical, tired of another “Chopped” rerun on the Food Network, and saw a wall full of motivational phrases and words painted across from me.

It was a Saturday morning of PT exercises followed by some form of cardio at the gym.

I was over it. I’ve been over it. I am over it.

Who knew that August of last year when the doctor diagnosed me with a stress fracture of the knee after my first MRI, that I would still not be running today. (For the record, he told me I’d be running anywhere from six weeks to six months).

It’s been 14 months since then.

I’ve had a new doctor since then.

I’ve done a lot of walking, swimming, PT exercises, stationary biking and elliptical-ing. I’ve talked a lot about not running. I’ve written a lot about not running.

But, back to that Saturday morning at the gym.

One phrase on the wall stood out to me the most: You are stronger than you think.

I kept repeating the sentence over and over in my head as I continued using the elliptical. It was kind of cathartic.

In all 10, 15+ years of being a runner*, not running has been the biggest challenge.

But, I am stronger than I think. And so are you.

 

*I ran cross-country in high school as a freshman but didn’t even like running then. I did it for the social aspects of being on a team. By no means did I consider myself a runner back then. But, I stuck with the team throughout high school and running became my lifelong friend. As you can see, I’m not good at letting go of friendships. 

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Injured runner: Hiking it out

I have a new goal.

If I’m not going to get any running miles in this year, well, I’m going to get some hiking miles in!

My doctor and physical therapist both have no objections to hiking. Doc said maybe wear a brace just so it will mentally make me feel stronger, if nothing else. So, for the past several weekends, I’ve been going on a hike nearly every week.

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My goal? To hike at least 30 times during my 30th year.

My birthday was in June and I have already gone on 10 hikes. (I didn’t officially start this goal until like September with my first hike of the season being in August). Seeing that I have eight more months until my next birthday, I’m pretty confident that I will be able to surpass my goal of 30.

Maybe this is the “silver lining” of being injured from running.

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I get to hike.

When I’m marathon training, my whole schedule revolves around running. Since there’s always a long run that needs to “get done” on weekends, there is never time — or energy — for a hike to fit into my training plans. My priority has always been running.

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I got some great hikes in during the summer with friends and family. Now that it’s cooler — and snowy — Bryce and I have done a few “winter hikes” already. I’m pretty lucky that even though I’m injured from running, I am still able to climb to the tops of mountains, see water falls and witness the Cascades in all of its glory.

Of course, I still miss running every day.

At least now I can have my weekly hike to look forward to.

This is 30

All names in this post are changed to protect the old and innocent.

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She felt bad that she kept having to leave me alone at the table. First it was to go get water. And then it was to go order ice cream.

No, she wasn’t extremely hungry or thirsty. She was trying to subdue her tastebuds that were on fire at the moment.

Samantha and I met up for dinner at a place that has take-out chicken sandwiches. She assured me that the tofu sandwiches (for this vegetarian) were also delicious. You can choose the level of spiciness of your sandwich and I ordered mine “medium” while Sam decided to go for “hot.” She said she ate there before and ordered medium but that she felt like it wasn’t spicy enough.

Well, folks, we’ve learned that there is a big difference between “medium” and “hot” at this place. While I was scarfing down my sandwich, she could barely eat hers.

“Kristin, what’s wrong with me? I’m in pain!” she said.

It’s one of those scenes that you want to be laughing at, but it actually didn’t come across as funny to me. I felt bad because there was nothing I could do to help her. (And she clearly was not in the position to be laughing).

“Do you want some of my sandwich?” I offered.

Sam said it was too late. Her mouth was already burning. She went back for more water at the self-serve station and left a little later again to order vanilla ice cream in hopes that the cold cream would off-set the burning sensation in her mouth.

“Is this what it’s like to get old?” she said while half laughing. Or, was it I who said that to try to lighten her mood?

Either way, maybe this is what getting old is like. Most of my friends and I are now 30, or about to approach 30.

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I have one friend, Brandy, who just got back surgery last week. Yes, back surgery! And, just like me she is only 30 years old! And, I have another friend, Maggie, who is about to get a colonoscopy because she has been having unresolved gastrointestinal problems.

Maybe this is the 30 that no one talks or writes (or posts on social media) about.

Except that I have been constantly writing and reminding you all about my year-long running injury!

We hear stories or see Facebook posts about Judy from high school’s new baby boy, or Agatha and her husband’s new million-dollar house or Angie’s elaborate wedding in the Bahamas.

We don’t hear the stories about the surgeries, doctor visits or that time your friend Sam could barely eat her dinner because she ordered it too spicy.

So, let’s be real. (I guess) this is 30.

Injured runner: I’m having a hard time with my weight

I wouldn’t say I was ever a person who had “body issues.” I ate whatever I wanted to when I was a teenager and in my early 20s. Because I exercised regularly — and let’s be real, I’ve always been a fairly healthy eater — I was pretty content with my weight and how I looked.

But, I’m having a hard time right now.

As an adult runner who is pretty in tune with her body, this is the third time I have had one of these “I’m having a hard time with my weight” moments.

Four-and-a-half years ago, I lost a noticeable amount of weight (without meaning to), and it freaked me out.

And then a year-and-a-half ago, I gained some weight and was having trouble accepting it. I eventually returned back to my “normal” weight but my issue now is that since I’ve stopped running in August, I have gained approximately ~8 pounds.

Being an injured runner is hard enough but now I have to deal with weight issues too??

When I went in for a doctor’s appointment at the beginning of the year, I stepped on the scale and when the nurse marked 136, my stomach sunk. It was validation for what I had been fearing for the past several months: I’ve gained a significant amount of weight.

My “normal” weight is typically around 127/128.

Some of my pants are tighter than they used to be. Some shirts are a little more fitted than I want them to be. The worst part is that I do not feel good about myself. 

My stomach area feels huge. And I have been exercising daily, but it’s all just not the same as running.

I’ve brought this up with a few friends and their responses are pretty similar: I’ll lose the weight when I start running again … I look the same, I have nothing to worry about …

But, I do not feel the same. 

And, I’m trying to take the steps to feel better. (It started with stopping calling myself fat). It’s also continuing with not stepping on a scale until I feel better with myself. 

Because really, the number on the scale isn’t so much what is bumming me out. It’s how I feel that is.

Injured Runner: Pretending I belong at the gym

The gym is an interesting place. And, I picked the most un-“gym-y” gym to go to. I joined the YMCA at the end of January and while it’s been great, it definitely has been awkward and uncomfortable at times.

I’m just not used to being around a lot of other people while I exercise. When you’re a runner, it’s the norm to run away from strangers as you get your workout done. In a gym though, I feel like everyone is starring at you and judging you.

How many times have I been on the elliptical and if someone is on the machine next to me, they will look over to glance at my screen? Pretty much every time.

Why do you care how long I’ve been on the elliptical or what number I have the resistance on? I have a freaking stress fracture that’s healing so leave me alone and mind your own business!

Maybe it’s just newbie gym goer paranoia. Maybe nobody else really cares what I’m doing.

I do have to admit that when I’m at the gym and on the elliptical, I do spend time observing other gym goers. I mainly do this to help pass the time because I cannot use headphones while I workout so I’m not listening to any music or podcasts or anything. (Back when I was running, I rarely listened to music because my running time was time spent with my thoughts).

So, what have I noticed? Not everyone wipes down their machine after using it. Some people wipe down the machine before and after using it though! A lot of people use the treadmills, which I just can’t wrap my head around on days when the weather is so nice outside. I just want to yell at them and tell them to take their run outside!

It’s also interesting to see how people use the treadmill. Because I’ve been going to the gym on a regular basis, I’m starting to recognize the same people. There’s this one girl who uses the treadmill at a way-too-fast-speed because she will sprint for less than a minute, and then literally hop to the side of the treadmill while the belt is still running, catch her breath, and then go back to sprinting. She repeats this pattern a few times and clearly spends more time resting than running. But, who am I to judge? I’m the one who got injured from running, after all …

Along with being a slave to the elliptical, I have gone to several group classes. So far I have learned that I like flow yoga the best, because I feel like I’m getting a better workout. The jury is still out on Pilates. I have only gone to one class so I will try again another week. I haven’t done a spin class yet and am kind of afraid to, but will hopefully get my butt to one soon. (The reason I’m afraid is because I’ve done a spin class outside of the Y before and it was pretty difficult! But, a great workout!) And the pool? I actually haven’t done any swimming since becoming a member of the Y. I’m still trying to figure out not-so-crowded times to use their pool.

 

Do I love the gym? No.

But, it’s definitely keeping me sane and moving during my sabbatical from running.

 

New year resolutions for the injured runner

New year resolutions seem good in theory but I don’t know if I really stick to them. I usually come up with a list of a few goals at the start of each year, but I also change the goals throughout the year as the months change and the shape of my year also changes.

Here are my current goals. Note, that at this time, I know I won’t be running again for another four months or so.

  1. Do at least 20 minutes of strength and core each day — Yes, you read that correctly. Every day. I gave up on my walking goal since Seattle has gotten so freaking cold! I started this new goal on Jan. 9 and have so far stuck to it. What honestly helps me do this is following along with random YouTube videos. I just do a search for “core workouts” and do whatever comes up. If you have any specific video recommendations, please send them my way!
  2. Join the YMCA before February — Regardless of when I can run again, I need to continue working out and cross train. Swimming is my “substitute” to running. And, once I am running again, I will continue to swim as cross training days. (Something I never did regularly before and will help in my plans to never be injured from running again!)
  3. Continue journaling — I used to keep a “dear diary” type of journal. No, I did not write “dear diary” but I had been keeping journals since I was in sixth grade. I’d just write about what happened that day and my feelings. I didn’t write daily but was very consistent with it. About a year ago (so even prior to getting injured) I stopped for some reason. I guess I just got too busy. I was tired of always writing “I’m feeling tired” countless times in my journals. Now my plan is to not write the details and all my feelings of the days, but to just write one sentence (or more if I feel like it) to describe one positive thing that happened that day.
  4. Read one book a month — This is really hard for me. Bryce always jokes that I never read. But, I guess it’s true so it’s not a joke? I enjoy reading but always say I don’t have time. I’m going to make a habit of reading before bed or instead of those minutes where I am aimlessly scrolling through social media on my phone while I sit at home, I will pick up a book instead! This is honestly going to be my hardest goal of them all.

I know I’m late to the game in establishing my new year goals. But hey, better now then never, right?

Getting angry, setting goals

I was scheduled to see my primary care physician yesterday but the office called and told me they had to cancel my appointment because my doc was sick. OK, I understand that doctors are humans and can get sick just like the rest of us, but it was annoying that I didn’t receive an apology and that the next available appointment is in two-and-a-half weeks!

And, not only did I have that little blip, I found out that there was a miscommunication at my orthopedic doctor’s office — the one that gave me the news about my stress fracture. Apparently, I am/was supposed to go in for a follow-up appointment before I begin to run again. No one ever told me this back in August. The only reason I called their office was because I was annoyed with my PCP’s office. So, now I have an appointment with the ortho in January …

I was told by both doctors’ offices that I am on the “waiting list” should any cancellations arise before my appointments. I’m not holding my breath.

Needless to say, I was pretty agitated at work all day. I went home angry and decided to set myself a goal. Since I still can’t run right now — Or, I assume I can’t since of the um, pain I have been experiencing as of late — the least I can do is walk.

It’s not a lofty goal but I have told myself that I will hit at least 10,000 steps every day. For someone who has an “office job,” hitting 10,000 steps isn’t always a piece of cake.

I don’t have my phone on my person with me at all times at work but I am still going by what my iPhone’s health app reads at the end of each day. This means making better efforts to go out for a lunch break walk. I do sit at my desk and eat lunch while working 99.9 percent of the time, anyway. This means going outside in the dark and cold after work if I have not hit my steps. This means waking up even 10-20 minutes earlier so I can get a quick walk in before work. Every step counts, right??

I have always  been a goal-oriented person. Maybe having this goal will make me feel a little better.

OK, angry post done. Going for a walk.