runner on the rebound

08 May 2012

Posted by karen
karen's picture

"What's changed, Mom?"

This was my daughter's question last year as I did my cool-down stretches and slurped water after my morning run. Renee could see I was flushed from pumping up the driveway, exhilarated with oxygen recovery - happiness smeared all over my sweaty face.
It had been many months since I was (practically) painfree while running, my fitness "love affair" of fifteen years.
Niggling pain in my sacroiliac (SI) joint and a tight lower back and hamstrings were the main symptoms that not only hampered my physical activity but messed with my sleep. Two years prior to this enforced "detour" I'd had a "buff and polish" (arthroscopy) on my left knee resulting from an injury, wear-and-tear, overuse, and?! - but I resolved not to give up. The expanded story will be part 2 and maybe 3 or more to this series.

First I'm sharing how I arrived at the present outcome: how "a little bit of a whole lot" factored in for my rebound.

Honestly?  It was like months of  a hilly rabbit trail "run."  Flip-flopping from submitting to my "cratering" body or questioning God why my body was betraying me - to fighting back to dig as deep as I ever had in my racing days when I was "so done" before reaching the finish line. 
It really was a matter of seeking for the proverbial "needle in the haystack" (what didn't I try!?) -  a lengthy list I logged in my journal. To be clear, over the period of about 18 months, I was receiving one, maybe two, of these treatments at one time, spacing them out as finances and mental will could afford.  
Yoga - how much flexibiltiy is in a tight rope? That was me, my routine still includes stretching after exercising.
Chiropractor - both "traditional" and NUCCA
MELT - a self-"massage" treatment using a foam roller (I took a few classes, bought the roller and use it a few days/week)
Massage - mostly deep tissue release, which is not a pleasant "touchy-feely" experience, but can/did help alleviate some muscle knots
Physio - a new-to-me technique using ropes 
Pilates - a single one-on-one session
Acupuncture - I was unfamiliar (read skeptical!) about this but my first treatment with Dr. Connolly completely changed my thinking. Since then I've had many sessions with Jason Lomond, occupational therapist (OT) who specializes in neurofunctional acupuncture especially for athletes - and lives in my community. Perhaps it's due to being the most recent, but of any one treatment, this (including manipulative muscle work) has appeared to be the most effective. 
Minimalist shoes - the founder and editor of Toe Salad (who happens to be my son-in-law), switched to minimalist footwear several years ago and his example and conversion helped me to finally  "see the light". Merrell Pace Gloves are what I'm using now - love 'em.
I am convinced this is the on-going most significant contributing factor to my rebound.
(Unfortunately no free shoes or other Merrell products for this endorsement!)
In reality, all of the above contributed to the "what changed."

There were constants from my life/running history that I carried into this "marathon."

nutrition - for the last five years I've significantly adjusted my diet to more veggies and fruits, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds and minimal animal protein. Having our vegan family live with us for six months last year was a huge support to this menu plan - my body loved it.  
setting a goal - as the months went by and I could gradually add on mileage without suffering for it after, I took a leap of faith and registered for a half marathon. To "train with my brain" and finish the race was the plan - and I was going to enjoy the trip, without painkillers. October 16 was my version of  "the amazing race" - a gift -  thanks to training, God's help, guts to go for it.....(The same medals were given to finishers in both the full marathon and the half.)
thankfulness  - to God for life and the strength and desire to be a (wacky) runner
perseverance - before I got my Merrells I wiped out on the paved road by our house. Frontal splat. By the grace of God, with herbal poultices (my daughter's initiative), a quick acupuncture treatment (thanks, Jason), an afternoon of rest and recovery, the only reminder is a scar on my right knee. Stubborn, persevering, whatever you want to call it, you gotta have it if you're going to get to any finish line. 
I'm still a happy runner but I'm on a quest - to truly live the truth that my joy of living won't be based only on the ups and downs of my physical body (and I have to admit this is more difficult than running intervals or going for an endurance run).
My rebound is a gift returned, to be treated with respect and perspective.
I am happy and I'm still running.
Are there any changes - invited or otherwise - that are helping you reach your heart's desires?


Renee's picture

Hi Karen; enjoyed your post. I hope my love affair with running never ends. It is so nice to see that you are still running the roads, 15 years later. Nice PEI medal, I just marked my calendar to train for it this morning. We'll see how it goes. I had to drop out of this weekends Bluenose marathon, 7 weeks ago I blew out my IT Band. How disappointing, but only now am I starting to see some progress. This is my first injury and its so humblling.
I wanted to tell you I tried your dressing from the last post, I don't know all I could taste was tamari, didn't work so well for me.
Happy running!

karen's picture

So sorry to hear about your running injury - I remember my first one (which was quite minor compared to yours) and I thought it was the end of the world! They're never fun to get or get over! Don't beat yourself up - I don't know (m)any runners who haven't had something or other to deal with. It's hard to know just where the line is when it comes to training - and doing something we love to do. Sorry the tamari was over-powering for you - try cutting it back next time or use Bragg's  which isn't quite as strong.....wish you well!


Candy Wirt's picture

Hi Karen,
I'm a holistic health coach, a recent graduate from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, and I just happened to 'stumble' upon your interesting blog this AM. I so relate to your life story in many ways. I, too, am a late bloomer, in the sense that at the age of 60 I began to really appreciate my mortality and that being said, decided to do something very constructive about it. It began with signing up for spinning classes at the university I worked it, which then led to me buying a road bike and training for the MS150, a charity ride for MS, where I rode with 14000 other cyclists from Houston to Austin, TX, in 1.5 days. Then that led me to begin training for a 60 mile, 3 day walk in Dallas, TX, for the Susan G. Komen organization, which in turn led me, through my daughter, who lives in Seattle, WA, to sign up for the year long course of study at IIN, and in the middle of that, I completed my first ever marathon 'walk' in honor of the soldiers who survived the grueling Bataan Death March in WWII. That took place at the White Sand's Missile Range in White Sands, NM. It took me almost 9 hours to complete but at the end, I was grateful for being healthy enough to complete it. All this to say, that through a healthy, balanced, lifestyle, eating real food, and being able to coach others to learn to do the same, my life has been very blessed. Now, I've 'met' you and am very glad simply because most of the other related blogs and web sites are run by twenty and thirty somethings which is a hard act to follow and somewhat defeating in many ways. My target market group are women in my own age bracket (boomers, if you will) and boy, are there a lot of them out there. Apparently, you and I received great genes and have managed to come up for air in the most excellent way possible. I'm going to continue to follow you and be inspired by your teaching.

Candy Wirt
Healthy, Wellthy & Wiser Health Coaching

karen's picture


Thanks for stopping by and I regret I didn't get to your comment before now. I always love hearing from my (age) peers, and excited to hear that there are more of "us" out there not only coming up for air but swimming full stride! Sounds as if you are in your prime, finding your groove. I'm interested to hear how you enjoyed your INN course (some of my colleagues have taken it too) and what you plan to do with it from here - besides walking marathons and cycling century rides! My husband and I celebrated our 60th birthdays this summer by cycling a 450km, 8-day tour on the Gaspe Peninsula in Quebec. It is indeed wonderful to be blessed with good health and strength and given a healthy dose of "won't quit" kind of attitude. I'm on my way over to your website - we must talk again, you can always contact me through the email given on my contact page.


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