Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wow a shout out!

Thanks so much to Dana at "Running Commentary" for her lovely compliments on my blog. Her blog is very fun to read and has some great info!

Finally walking (well running) my talk...

My college professor Stacie's words still ring in my ears: "If you don't at least walk 45 minutes 3 times a week, you are a hypocrite." Actually over the last 14 years they have occasionally haunted me. You see I am a physical therapist, ummm.... technically an exercise professional. In my professional life I have asked the question "Have you been doing your exercises?" thousands of times... just waiting for one of my patients to look me over and say: "Have you?"

I have finally lived up to Stacie's expectation. I finally don't need to dread that patient. I have been doing my exercises!

I had my rationale, I specialize in homecare and geriatrics. If you have a running injury you don't come see me. Now, if you can't walk or get out of chair, I come see you. So, I was not asking my patients to do exercises I couldn't do. And I was never injured and asking someone to fix me, but not complying. I was just generally out-of-shape, but not actually complaining about it. But I was far from a good example.

I had a patient who recently inspired me, just as I began learning to run. She was close to 90, and had been diagnosed many years before with a dreaded debilitating disease of old age. I was amazed at how well she was doing both mentally and physically, considering the length of her diagnosis. Near the end of my visit I found out why she still functioned so well. Her husband told me she was a runner. She had even won several big races. As I thought about it, this sweet lady would have been my age in the 50's, not exactly a time when running was a common activity for a Midwestern homemaker. She was a pioneer. Even though she couldn't really have a complete conversation with me, she was an inspiration to me to start and keep running.

This brings me to a confession. Years ago I did a brief stint in our hospital's outpatient department. On one of my last days in outpatient I had a new patient who was a runner. He had complained of knee pain and I couldn't find anything wrong with him. Eventually he reported that it only hurt after he ran 3 miles. While I am happy to report that being the professional I am I suggested he schedule another evaluation for a time when he could run immediately before his appointment. I am ashamed to say that I really wanted to say " Well, then just run 2 and a half miles." I really couldn't see the point of running if it hurt. I wish I could have that one back. (Side note: if you have a running injury please only see a PT who has extra training in sports medicine!! Actually now I would have recommended that patient be evaluated at a sports medicine clinic. Even small cities usually have those.)

Running has enhanced my professional life. I have become more keenly aware of form and quality of movement. I have personally experienced the process of building up endurance. I love my job. I love my older patients, and helping people be able to function in their homes. And, I am good at it. Even though I am learning to love running, I have no plans to become a sports PT. But running has allowed me to relate better to my patient's experience. It is something I have to physically push and discipline myself to accomplish. For some of my patients, walking down a flight of stairs independently is their 5K. And as I work on my goals in running I can better sympathise and cheer them on toward their therapy goals.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A dog and a change of direction...

On Saturday I headed out for my run/walk. I was feeling pretty good, thinking I would do 11 minute intervals instead of the prescribed 10. I did my 5 minutes of warm up and then was 3 minutes into my first interval, when all the sudden a barking dog came running toward me. He stopped few feet from me. He did not want me running past his house. After a moment of sheer panic picturing bloody limbs, I calmed down and reflected that it wasn't worth trying to pass him, especially since I would have to pass back the same way. So I turned around and prayed that he wouldn't chase after me. As soon as I turned he stopped barking and sauntered back into his yard.

This kind of threw me. I hadn't mapped out where I would run heading south through town. I way underestimated my turn around time and had to run back past my home to finish my intervals, I turned around well before the dog's place though, which meant I had to go past my house again to cool down.

It was weird too, I had never seen this dog before. His apparent home is the next house after ours, but about 1/2 a mile away. We've drive past this house several times a week, and have never seen the dog since either. At first I thought he was a little vicious demon. I even cried a little as the adrenaline drained from my system and I felt shaken. Then I started to wonder. I had been considering running through town, but was too embarrassed. I had some concerns about the safety of running 2 miles in the country w/ only 2 houses, on a 55 mph road. I'd been saying it would be nice to have someone to run with, but never actually ran in a place where I might see someone else running. Makes me wonder if he was a little messenger dog, sent to make me turn around. Either way, now when I head out I am running south.


I actually ran for an entire mile!! It took me 13:30, but I did it! And the amazing thing is that I didn't collapse after! Instead I walked 2.5 minutes then ran another 12.5, walked 2.5 minutes, then ran another 12. The second interval was tough, but as I was running on the bridge over the interstate a pick-up below honked (cheerfully), that really gave me a boost for the next few minutes.

I feel like I have tons of energy, I am so pumped from "really" running.

Friday, July 23, 2010

It is all so worth it

It is ridiculously hot and humid outside. We skipped a park day we had planned. But the girls wanted to play in the back yard for a bit. They wandered to the back of the yard, and suddenly I was inspired to run over to them. And I ran across the yard like it was nothing, w/ nary an extra breath. So I grab a couple balls and my 2 year old, Holly, and I played kick the ball around the yard. She had so much fun running back and forth with mommy, and Heather (1 year) had as much fun toddling around after us.

Five weeks ago I wouldn't have done that. If I had to run across the yard to rescue someone, it didn't kill me, but I would be a little puffed. And chase the ball was a game where I "directed" more than participated. I would throw the ball and the girls would do the chasing. But today, I played. I ran around and had fun, and didn't get tired or even slightly short of breath!

When I started this fitness journey I had a vague notion of it being beneficial for my family. Today I have a concrete example. I have never delighted in playing with my girls so much. Tomorrow when I run I have even more inspiration to keep going!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Why I hated running

The memory is vivid in my mind. The searing pain in my ankle, the tears and humiliation as I practically collapsed after my first lap around the track. It was early in 1986. I was in 6th grade. I had just moved to California. Back home gym had been kick ball and hula hoops. At my new school P.E. was serious business.

I hated running ever since that day, and the subsequent required runs in Jr High. We ran a timed 440, 880, and mile at least twice every quarter. We were graded on our base time, plus our improvement. But I don't remember ever being taught how to run, or build up to running the mile. The warm-ups consisted of me uncoordinatedly trying to follow some 8th graders as they led a series of exercises w/o instruction.

The recurring pain in my ankle, and wanting to die and never ever run again after the mile, are my strongest impressions of running. My parents did take me to a Dr. about my ankle. He took an x-ray, said he couldn't see anything wrong. But he told me "Some people aren't built to run." I latched on to that as my excuse for the next 20+ years. "I just wasn't built to run."

As I have discovered the joy of running I look back on that time w/ a mix of shock, amusement, and disgust. Shock that we were just expected to run and improve our running with no training, and no instruction. Amusement that I would be labeled "Not built for running." With my long legs, and (at the time) thin body, I was built just right for running. But what most disgusts me is that neither the gym teacher nor orthopedic surgeon thought to suggest maybe I needed to stretch before I ran. And that, plus a few ankle strengthening exercises, could put an end to that burning stabbing pain.

I don't tend to spend a lot of time on regrets. I briefly wonder what it would be like to have learned to run properly, maybe I could have... But in high-school and college I enjoyed my role as brainy academic non-athlete. So enough of looking back, I will rejoice that I found running, that I got a second chance to find my inner athlete. I will reclaim those years, by proving how cool it is to be in better shape at age 36 than at age 26 or even 16. And I have finally triumphed over Jr High P.E. class!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

10 minutes!!!

Did my 10 minute intervals today!! I was sucking wind a bit after the first interval. I had to remind myself halfway through the 2nd interval that the second one is the toughest. After that I started to feel good, and I ran for 11 minutes in the 3rd interval.. I think I went about 3.4 miles in 44 minutes. (I need to break out hubby's GPS, then I could have a definite time and distance.) That put me at 12:56 per mile!!! Ok not amazing or anything, but for me, it is great to break 13 minutes. I even had to stop for about 20 seconds to fix my sock. (Note to self, wear socks that stick out above shoes...)

It is getting hard not to just keep running. I would really love to get out there and just run w/o walking. But, I realize that I have a training regimen for a reason. And I am going to stick to it. Besides running today was challenging, but definitely doable. And to think less than 3 weeks ago I was wondering how I could possibly do 6 minute intervals. Next week I get to run for 12 minutes, that might be a whole mile!

Monday, July 19, 2010

How I found running...

Providence: a manifestation of divine care or direction.

Providence, that is how I found running. God organized a collection of happenings that led me to running north on my country road.

First, about 5 weeks ago I was fed up. I knew I was out of shape and anywhere from 15 to more like 30 pounds overweight. It was a little more than 10 weeks to my oldest daughter's 3rd birthday. I wanted to get back to my pre-pregnancies weight, actually I wanted to weigh less than my pre-pregnancies weight. So I made a goal to lose 15 pounds in 10 weeks. That would put me at 165, the highest healthy weight for my height, and 5 lbs less than when I became pregnant with Holly. However I did not want to go on a diet. I didn't want to change anything temporarily. I wanted to build permanent habits. So in addition to losing 15 pounds my goals were to exercise for 200 minutes a week, eat 5 fruits/veggies a day, and drink at least 20 oz of water a day.

The first week I walked (outside and on the treadmill), did some toning work outs on TV/DVD, and talked my hubby into a family bike ride. My treadmill time was limited to about 1/2 an hour during naps so to boost it up I jogged a few 1 minute intervals. I knew I hated running "distances". I had only run a complete mile twice in my life, and of course thought I was going to die after those. But those little one minute intervals were fun. And, one day I decided to see how long I could jog. So one day after a short warm-up I jogged for 5 minutes straight. I was tired but proud of myself. However, it still didn't click that running could be more than just a few minutes to pump up my walking.

In the spirit of my healthy lifestyle, when we out to eat with some friends that Friday, I suggested we walk on our municipal trail after dinner. It was a beautiful June evening, so the trail was busy with bikers, walkers, and runners. Though I hated running myself I have always been fascinated by those who actually did enjoy it. And I especially took note of two girls in "Lake Run Club" T-shirts since 14 month-old Heather called out a loud "Hi" and waved at them from her stroller.

At one point we passed an interesting woodsy area, with dirt trails off to the side of the paved trail. On the way back I wanted to check out this "Hidden Creek Nature Sanctuary" So I jogged on ahead a little bit. when I started walking through the side trail I noticed it was a bit dark in there, and though the trail ran roughly parallel to the main trail, I wasn't sure how far I had to go before I caught up with it. So I started to run. That is where it clicked. I was running, and I was enjoying it! I only ran for about 2 or 3 minutes before I caught up with the trail. But I was hooked.

As I thought about how fun it was to run, I remembered those girls and the Lake Run Club shirts. From the back of my memory banks came the idea that the Lake Run Club had a non-runner to runner training class. (i think I read about it in the paper) A quick online search, and i found them. I was disappointed to see that the class runs from Feb through April, but excited when I found their training regimen was posted online. I read through it and knew I could do it.

That was four weeks ago. Tomorrow I start my 10 minute intervals (10 min run/3 min walk : repeat 3 times) I don't think I have ever run for a total of 30 minutes in one day, let alone in one hour. And I am looking forward to it! I have even found that if I get up at 6am I can "run" outside, by myself before hubby leaves for work. I am no longer not a morning person.

I feel like tomorrow is a big day. Running for 30 out of 39 minutes, that could be the equivalent of a 5K, or farther. Looking forward to heading out my door and running north in the morning.

Friday, July 16, 2010

No more flowers, but a new discovery

As I headed out on my easy day walk/run this am. I was disappointed to notice that my flowers were gone. The roadside had been mowed. Only hearty thistle looking flowers survived. Nearly all of the delicate white flowers were gone. It was mostly greenish brown grasses, with all the white and purple gone. But then I looked closer. Along the edge were baby ferns. There intricate patterns were fascinating. I'm sure they were there all along. It is amazing what you don't see underneath the pretty and the obvious. It was easy to admire the flowers but more work to find the ferns. There is some type of deep thought in there.

Since I don't have an ipod or mp3 player, my walks/runs are spent praying, thinking, and singing hymns in my head. I guess that is another part of what I love about running. It motivates me to get up and spend time reflecting and talking to God.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Up before the flowers

I actually got up before the flowers today to run/walk. Today my hubby had to leave just after 6am. Which meant in order to get my training in I had to be out the door by 5:20. I am yawning now just typing this.

At midnight and 3am, when my 1 y/o was fussing I thought there was no way I was going to be able to get up at 5:15. I had not set my alarm, I asked God to wake me up if he wanted me to do this. Well my clock said exactly 5:15 when Heather cried out again and fussed just long enough to wake me up. God provided a cute, though occasionally irritating, little alarm clock.

When I got out there I was glad I had to start so early today. It was oppressively humid, but since the sun was just starting to rise it wasn't too hot yet.

We have a lot of nice wildflowers along our country roadside. There is one that looks like lovely delicate white scalloped bowl when I am out running in the early morning sun. But today they were still curled up like little trumpets. I was awake before the flowers.

I think I went about 3 miles. I definitely went farther than Tuesday. It took 42 minutes, including warm-up and cool-down. Not a fabulous time, but good for me, and I can only get better right?