When you no longer feel like a runner

I’m realizing that it’s quite difficult to maintain a (mostly) running blog when you’re not running.

It’s tiring to write over and over again about how I still can’t run.

When I get together with friends who I haven’t seen in a while, their reactions are always the same: Wait, you are still injured? But, it’s been so long!

I had back-to-back activities during a recent weekend so I had planned to go straight to the gym after helping with a friend’s bridal shower hosted at my parents’ house. When my mom saw me in my running clothes, her reaction was: Oh, good! You’re going to go enjoy the sun and go for a run! 

For some reason she forgot that I’m still injured. Probably because I try not to talk about it anymore.

I’m tired of talking about how I am injured.

The other week I ran into a former Team In Training teammate who was training for the Alaska Half Marathon last year when I was training for the Alaska Full. She works at my organization but in a completely different department so our paths hardly ever cross. She was shocked to hear that my stress fracture is still healing — now eight months since I stopped running.

As I started telling her the story of how I got my first MRI and then the pain came back and then I got a second MRI (this time with contrast), I kept thinking, why am I sharing this story? I hate this story. I’m tired of telling this story.

It was memorial day weekend of last year when I first experienced pain in my left knee. Maybe at the one-year mark it will all be over?

I really hope my injury-story will end soon and that I’ll have a new story to share.

A comeback story.

Be the match

[Note: I wrote this post at the end of December and with the holidays and going out of the country, I never published it. But, this is something important to me, so I am sharing it now.]

Natalie never made it to the point of being healthy enough for a bone marrow transplant.

I’d like to think that if she had, there would have been a match waiting for her.

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Because, not all blood cancer patients who require a bone marrow transplant for treatment have a family match. This means they need a donor — someone who is not related to them who happens to be a match.

Somewhere in between working in health care field for four years and the impact Natalie has had on my life, I’ve known I wanted to join the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry. It’s “just a cheek swab” to join the registry. If you’re matched with a patient in need, then, well, it’s a little more than that.

“Doesn’t it hurt?” people have asked upon learning I finally joined the registry.

Yes, drawing liquid marrow out of the back of your pelvic bone with a needle doesn’t sound fun. But, it could save someone’s life.

Natalie was 17 years old when she passed away. My friends and I were 17 mourning the death of our dear friend. Kids shouldn’t have to mourn the death of their friends. At 17, we were all still just kids.

So, I’m just doing all that I can do, while I can, to help others who need it.

I know that Natalie would do the same.

 

 

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.

Knowing your strengths

I’ve taken the Myers-Briggs personality test a few times but always took it with a grain of salt. After all, depending on my mood, I swing between getting an “I” or “E” (so, introverted or extroverted).

Recently at work we took the Clifton Strengths assessment. I’d never heard of the test before but it was pretty eye-opening. Based on many questions answered, it assesses your greatest strengths. (They call them “themes” and there are more than 30 themes to be placed into!)

In a workplace, knowing one another’s strengths helps with building better teams and thus producing better, timely work.

My top five strengths include: responsibility, individualization, analytical, strategic and achiever.

The “individualization” one first caught me by surprise because I thought it meant that I preferred to work as an individual and (essentially didn’t want to be around other people). It’s actually not that at all. When it comes to Clifton Strengths, individualization means you are intrigued by the unique qualities each person has. You don’t like to group people into “types” but would rather know how each person is special and different.

I definitely have a “get it done” attitude which is where the “responsibility” and “achiever” themes come from. I don’t always associate myself as a super analytical and strategic person but I guess those must come from my journalistic upbringing. I learned that you need facts to prove things. You need to write/report based off of known knowledge, not just what people may say.

Knowing these strengths goes beyond being helpful in a work setting. They can be applied to your personal life and goals as well.

We don’t always know exactly what our strengths are. Or, is everyone just way more self-aware than I am?

Something non-running and non-not running-related to talk about for once 🙂

Injured runner: I’m having a hard time swimming

Things OK to do while on the mend:

  • Walking
  • Elliptical-ing
  • Biking/spinning
  • Core and strength training
  • Swimming

Things not OK to do well on the mend:

  • Running
  • Jumping
  • Bearing weight on my knee (so like, table top/cat/cow position in yoga would all be a big fat no!)

I’ve been doing a pretty good job of consistently doing all but the swimming on my first list. I stopped going to yoga altogether after I talked to my doctor about a month ago to get specifics on what I can and cannot do while I let my stress fracture heal. I know I can still go to yoga but that I wouldn’t be able to do all the moves everyone else is. (So far, I haven’t gotten the courage to go back).

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So, why is swimming so hard? I’ve done it before.

But, my doctor had also told me to avoid breast stroke when I swim — too much kicking of the leg/knee out that could cause aggravation to the injury. Um, as a runner where swimming is not my forte, breast stroke was my saving grace! Now that I have to do the crawl the entire time, swimming is way more stressful and tiring and time consuming.

Right now, I only have the lung capacity to do two laps (so out-and-back twice) of the crawl. After two laps I am winded. I am gasping for air and my heart is beating pretty quickly. I hate having to pause/take a break, especially if there are other swimmers in the lane — it just messes up with the whole flow!

So, what do I do? Just keep going to the pool and get better? The last two times I went to the pool, I spent a majority of my time using the kick board. I wouldn’t mind doing backstroke either, but this takes skill if you have to share the lane with others …

It’s also hard to get better at swimming when I only go once a week. But, the lap swim schedule and my work schedule and how crowded the pool gets on Saturdays leaves me with just Sunday swim days.

Maybe I’ll try aqua jogging. That doesn’t take being in the lap lane. I keep running into my old high school cross country coach at the pool and he’s been telling me to aqua jog instead of doing mindless laps back and forth if I hate it so much.

Maybe I don’t need to get any better at swimming. Maybe I’ll just stay in the slow lane and kick board the entire time.

But, it would be nice for my workout to not take an hour plus …

Injured runner: What’s next?

OK OK, so I’ve been really bad at blogging while injured. But, let’s be real. Who wants to read about a runner who whines about not being able to run? I guess my fellow injured runners?

I haven’t been feeling well the past few days — caught a darn head cold — so I don’t really want to delve too much into things right now since I don’t think I can concentrate for much longer but here are a few notable things:

  • I spent more days in February at the gym than not at the gym.
  • I’m having a hard time swimming (more on this in detail later).
  • I’m having a hard time with my weight (more on this later).

As I type this my knee is hurting … which is frustrating since I haven’t exercised in four days (due to the cold!) **insert crying emoji**

For now, I’m going to focus on recovering from this cold. Then, I’ll get back to all those IOU blog posts I mentioned above.

Let’s hope March blogging is more frequent than January and February combined!

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.