I used to run regularly. Wasn’t particularly good at it but I did it. That was before depression it me again; before my dad moved to a retirement home; before the pandemic.
Since March of 2020 I struggled with false starts. In April I ran on and off for a few months. Then the summer hit and I’m not sure what happened. I started walking more I think. Started walking 10k to my downtown job and then signed up for a virtual race in the fall and walked a marathon.
I won’t lie. My body felt broken after that and I stopped everything again until January 2021. With the new year ahead of me I had another false start with running and did well for a few months. Then I stopped.
I’ll blame work. I started doing extra shifts at covid assessment clinics and vaccination clinics. I started working more Saturdays. Anything and everything to avoid having time to exercise, I think.
But then the fatigue set in. And the flab. Well, to be honest the flab has been around for a while. I started intermittent fasting in February but after 12 weeks there was no movement on the scale. So was I tired because of the fasting? Was I iron deficient? Was it my thyroid?
Doctors really do make the worst patients. How many patients have I seen with the same complaints? Their blood work is always normal and my advice to them is to start exercising.
So finally at the beginning of June that’s exactly what I did.
It’s been 11 days and I have gone for 5 runs.
They aren’t fast runs. They aren’t even steady runs. I had to go back start with 2:1 run/ walk intervals. My pace is slow. But the change in my energy level is remarkable. I might even have noticed a subtle change in my waistline.
I need to start writing again. I need the outlet. Running has sucked badly for the past year. I just can’t get the mojo back. I’ve gained 10 lbs, I feel sluggish and gross. Running doesn’t feel good when I do it. I feel slow, out of breath and everything below the waist hurts at some point or another. I am too hard on myself. It’s okay if I walk a minute or two for every 3 minutes of walking, it’s better than nothing, right? Right. I know. Sure.
My brother is going through a health issue. It could be a lot worse than it is and I know that, but I’m still freaked out for him. He needs surgery and a reconstruction and I wish he didn’t have to go through any of it. We went through a tough time last year when my dad moved into the Retirement home and I was in the height of my depression. I couldn’t help my brother the way I was supposed to. He spent weeks packing up my parent’s condo pretty much all by himself while I sat paralyzed with depression and tried to make excuses as to why I couldn’t help. I still carry that guilt. I’ll live with it for the rest of my life. He says he’s gotten over it but I worry he harbors resentment. So now that he is going through his own health issues, I am trying to make up for it. I’ll support his wife through his surgery and recovery. I’m checking in on both of them daily. I guess it’s the least I can do.
Emotionally I’m okay. I’m not depressed anymore. But I’m worried for what the future holds for my brother. I feel overwhelmed with life … again. I know this is what happens with age. I don’t think I like it very much. I just get no relief from it. It’s happening to my family now, to my patients. It’s everywhere.
I know I need to take care of myself first. I need to run. I need to write. I need to be okay.
It was a difficult year, to say the least. A few days into January, my father had his first fall and we realized that my mom probably wouldn’t be able to care for him at home for much longer. Over the span of a few months, there were more falls, more calls to 911 for assistance to get him up off the floor, and my brother and I convinced our mother that a retirement home was the next step.
I thought I was handling things well but by June the writing was on the wall for him. Darkness, the black hole of depression, started to consume me and I was failing everyone.
The year ended better than it started. I worked my ass off at two jobs and kept very busy mostly to avoid thinking about it all. I know that doesn’t sound like a good thing, but really, it was. The only downside was that I basically stopped running.
But 2018 is done now, and so is the extra work and on new years’ day, I went for a goddamn run. It was glorious. The sun was shining and despite the chill in the air from the cold wind, I think I was smiling inside the whole time.
Hello, 2019. It’s nice to see you.
This weekend I ran my 3rd half marathon race. Grossly undertrained, I might add. My longest run had been 17k a few weeks prior and I would be lucky if I got one training run in during the week. I considered switching my bib to the 10k but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.
Finished another half just sounds better, right?!
I had no time goal other than to finish but if I’m honest with myself I knew I wanted to finish under 3 hours and certainly under 2:50. By some miracle or more likely sheer force of stubborn will, I crossed the finish line in 2:46:58. A minute slower than my previous effort last October and almost 10 minutes slower than my debut race in 2015.
About 10km into the race the outer aspect of my left knee started talking to me.
ITB. I haven’t experience ITB pain in several years. Uh oh. Not a good sign. A sign of undertraining in my opinion and poor post run stretch and foam roller etiquette.
But really, should I have expected anything different?
Oh and I probably needed new running shoes 6 months ago.
Now, on a training run I would pause my Garmin and stretch out my hip flexors but there was no way I was stopping on course. I knew that if I stopped moving to stretch I may not get started again. So, I just took extra walk breaks after 15 km or so. Before that I was sticking pretty well to my 1 km run and 100 meter walk intervals. After 15 km it was more like run 400 m, walk 200 m and repeat.
Looking around me, though, I saw other runners struggling too. I asked if they were okay. One runner had his hamstring seize up. For another it was her ankle. Others were just walking. Eventually I found the power walker I had been chasing unconsciously for most of the race and passed her. Yes! Not gonna lie. That was pretty awesome. All told when I crossed the finish line and before they gave me my medal, I burst into emotional, cathartic tears.
It’s that time of year for resolutions, those things you decide you want to change or improve about yourself over the coming year.
1. Run more and farther.
I ran a good amount in 2017, about 750 km (give or take) over the year. I had a few minor over-use injuries which isn’t new to me. I ran a half marathon and had a 10km PB (personal best) race. I joined a running team (more about that in a future post) and met a lot of extraordinary people, many of whom are survivors in one way or another and who run to stay mentally strong. They are an incredibly inclusive group of people from all walks of life who all love to run. I feel lucky to have found them.
2. Yell less at my kids.
Being a parent is hard. Being a parent who doesn’t raise her voice is exhausting. I found myself in a cycle of yelling and saw its impact on my kids, my eldest in particular. Over the past 6 weeks both my husband and I have made a huge effort to lower our voices and I know with myself in particular, not yelling is hard to do. After asking my child to do something 3 times and not having it done, the only recourse I had, it seemed, was to raise my voice. It got their attention, but in a negative way. When I started hearing how they related to each other I realized they were emulating my behavior. We sat down with all the kids one day and acknowledged the tension in the house and told them that their mommy and daddy were going to do better. We asked them for help and it seems to be working. Oh, I still find myself yelling – I’m not a saint – but it is less than it was before. I’m a work in progress.
Last weekend, I ran a little race in my hometown along with 25,000 other people. I ran this one before, back in 2015. It was a half-marathon.
My training cycle took a huge nosedive in August when I ran too much while on vacation at the cottage. When I returned to running in the city, my legs were very mad at me. The nagging shin splints returned and I had to take a big break. I ran only once a week for the last month before the race. I was petrified that I wouldn’t be able to finish, let alone finish it standing up.
The longest training run was 16 km and I did that 3 weeks before the big day. My friend who is a triathlete told me that it was better to be 10% under-trained than 1% overt-rained. She ended up being right.
Race day arrived and I was a nervous wreck. I arrive on course early to support a new friend of mine as he completed his 5th (of 6) marathons of the weekend (that story is for another post). See, I joined this running team last spring, supporting someone who raises money and awareness for childhood survivors of sexual abuse and trauma. Through this team I have met a group of remarkable people all who like to run. Most of them run a hell of a lot faster than me, but they are an inspiring group of people and I am lucky to have found them.
I ran with one of these new friends for my half marathon. He was running the marathon and didn’t want to go out too fast, so I asked him if he wanted to run my pace with me and he did. We had a fantastic time. It was so nice to run with someone and be distracted from the fact I was trying to run 21.1 km.
In the end, I ran a good race and I felt great. Sure, my hips started getting tight at 9 km and the balls of my feet starting aching around 17 km. All of that was expected. Nothing actually hurt too badly, so I knew I could finish it.
I ran it for me – to challenge my mind, body and spirit. I didn’t beat my previous time but I knew I wouldn’t.
I was almost in tears when I finished. I just wanted to cross the finish line standing up and I did.
I ran for my dad. He has prostate cancer, and the previous week we got word that his radiation treatment worked and he was cancer free. I raised $500 for Prostate Cancer Canada prior to the race.
I ran for my classmate, colleague and friend who was murdered last year by her husband. I wear the purple armband that I wore at her funeral. I will wear it for every race until her murderer is convicted. My friend was a runner. She always supported my running on social media. I ran for her because she can’t run anymore.
I am a day late in reporting in, but Monday got away from me.
I found a funny mole on my husband’s back over the weekend so that meant I had to get him in to see the Dermatologist on Monday morning to have it removed. Thankfully, the dermatologist didn’t think it was bad but took it off anyway.
But back to Sunday. I finally got out for my long run in the mid-afternoon. I headed east for the first time in forever and ran out 3.5 km and back. 7 km done! The wind was in my face on the way out and to my back on the way home and somehow I ended up with a few negative split kilometers by the end.
Overall pace was a bit faster than the last two weeks and I felt it in my legs a bit. I have to remember to try to keep these longer runs slower!
After a wonderful evening with my best friend and her partner, after eating prime rib and Yorkshire pudding and 3.5 bottles of wine among us, I woke up Sunday morning with a slight hangover and a tummy that was not happy about all the food. I hate to get graphic but I had a very upset tummy that morning, well actually, more like in the middle of the night, reminiscent of the stomach flu but thankfully no vomiting.
Remember, hubby and I have been on a healthy eating kick. We have small dinners of protein and veggies, no dessert and no booze. My system clearly didn’t appreciate the high fat and alcohol all at the same time. So Sunday morning came and I was like, “Long run? Not a chance.”
Instead we took the kids out and ended up at an aquarium store. A couple of hours later, we came home with a companion for our mama crayfish, a new aquarium for the two and a fire eel!!!!
Mama crayfish is the red/orange one. Royal blue crayfish is her new companion. The rainbow pebbles were chosen by our daughter.
We found the eel hiding under this rock a few hours after putting him in the tank. He is a bottom dweller and likes to hide. I think his little snout sticking out is super cute.
So it was around 5:30pm when we were done setting up the homes of our new family members and I decided it was now or never to run. So I suited up and forced myself to go out. I’m so glad I did. Though it was super slow, it felt great to be back out there pounding the pavement. I didn’t increase the distance too much, I had planned 6.7 km (10% increase from last week), but finished at 6.5 km due to general fatigue. Still, it’s in the books and I feel good about it overall.
Two months ago, I started tracking what I ate with My Fitness Pal. My husband and I had both gained weight, or more accurately, were not losing weight, and he wanted to start eating better and exercising more to see if it would help his chronic kidney disease. So together we decided to put an end to our big dinners and wine during the week. We started eating more protein and veggies at dinner and minimized the carbs – ie. no pasta, no bread – and less deep fried foods. We also stopped having dessert every night – no more Halloween chocolate, no cookies after dinner, etc. Wine is only on Friday and Saturday night now.
After a few weeks husband started noticing a difference and with me tracking my calories and trying to adjust my macros, I started seeing subtle differences in the way my clothes fit. He is running more during the week when the kids are at school and I am back on track with my running as well.
Now, I won’t lie, the nasty stomach flu I had over New Years’ certainly did help with the weight loss but surprisingly, the weight is staying off and well, I am pretty excited about that.
Since starting the healthy eating plan and tracking my diet, I have now lost 10 lbs. I can’t remember the last time I was this weight – well, yes actually, it was before I got pregnant with my 3rd child. My clothes fit better and I feel better. We both do.
He says I don’t need to track my food intake anymore, but I can’t deny that it has become a habit for me now and the scientist in me is enjoying the process. I can’t wait to see how the next few months shape up!