The Rise and Fall of a Runner.

First of all, I want to start out this post by saying that I have NEVER been what one would call “a natural runner”- by by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, my most profound running memory involves a stint on the cross country team in seventh grade (And since we’re being honest here, I’ll confess that I only joined because #1 A hot guy in the 8th grade was on it-my gaydar, it turns out, was off in that case- and #2 I figured it’d be a good way to make myself as thin as all the other girls) in which I fell, injured myself and came in DEAD.LAST. Out of 80 people. Did you know they make an 80th place ribbon? Well, now you do.

Until I was 22, the closest I ever wanted to get to running any kind of distance was making a dash for these amazing shoes marked 75% off at the Barney’s Annual sale (and to that lady I elbowed for the last pair of size 39’s- i’m REALLY sorry. But they were 75% off!!! Look at it this way- it could’ve been worse. I elbowed for Manolos, but for 75% off, I might’ve maimed). But then I started to get serious about losing weight and being healthy and at the urging of my uncle, I took up running- usually in the dark of night (sorry, Aunt Pam!)so as not to be seen, pointed at and laughed at while huffing and puffing like a maniac . Plus, my hair just does not hold up well with all that activity and after an *ahem* unfortunate incident, I don’t want to put anything potentially flammable like hairspray to keep the frizz from taking over in it. You just never know, ok?

At first, I was painfully slow, painfully awkward and I HATED IT! REVILED IT! The burning in my throat, the aching in my legs, the pain in my chest unless I donned multiple sports bras that could win engineering industry awards… it was the worst kind of torture I could imagine.

But something happened after those first few weeks. Slowly, I realized that after the first 15 minutes would pass, I’d start to find my stride. And with every step I took I worked harder, felt stronger, more capable. Somehow, it was cathartic. I ran when I was angry. I ran when I was happy. I ran when I was sad. I knew that I couldn’t run FROM anything, but I could run to find some sort of peace- to let my mind wander and scream or cry or rejoice. It was a space to feel whatever it was that I needed to feel- to put it all out there on the pavement with each step. It was the greatest release that I had. It made me HAPPY. It kept me mentally and physically healthy. And then I got sick.

I won’t go into why I can’t run anymore (and to all you runners screaming at the thought of this- yes, it does suck as badly as you think. You guys can imagine.) other than to say I have Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, which you can read about in this post. Maybe someday I will realize my dream of running a marathon, but right now I can’t do the one thing that my mind so desperately craves to get through a really crappy time.

But getting pissed off really does me no good. So, what does a resourceful gal do? She finds another way. Yoga? Check! Dancing like a maniac in her apartment? Check! Walking? Check! Elliptical? Sometimes a check! Skiing? Check!  Core Fusion Body Sculpt? CHECK!

The secret to getting through this without running is obvious- find other things that I CAN do that remind me of how strong my body still is in other ways, how far i’ve come from being so frail I couldn’t get of bed, and that sense of accomplishment that comes from pushing your body to do things that will make it stronger, faster, better. The one and only Dori was the first person to clue me on Core Fusion. She just finished doing a Core Fusion challenge with amazing results and she told me about the Core Fusion Bodysculpt DVD, which happened to be on sale. Anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I am a total sucker for anything on sale. I hoard stuff when it’s on sale, so obviously, it was ripe for the buying!

I should say that I have been thoroughly traumatized by workout DVD’s. Richard Simmons made me fear my natural curls, Billy Blanks forever made me associate kickboxing with shiny scary spandex, and several other perky women have left my ears ringing, which, trust me, is hard to do to a deaf girl. I needed a DVD with instructors that haven’t been on a steroid regimen, a Redbull diet, a bi-annual perming schedule, or taken voice cues from Gilbert Gottfried. Fred DeVito and his wife Elizabeth Halfpapp(the inventors of Core Fusion!) certainly meet these requirements. They are completely low-key and don’t make me want to throw my hand weights at my TV. This was a very good sign from the start. Non-annoying instructors? Check!

Then, of course, there’s the exercises themselves. The DVD is split up into 4 sections- Arms, Thighs, Glutes and Abs. It was surprising when I first did it because the exercises themselves are very simple. If you were to watch the DVD without doing them, you might think that they aren’t difficult or all that effective, but you would be very wrong. It’s the simplicity that makes this so perfect- you are doing concentrated movements that all flow together seamlessly for maximum effectiveness. Fred and Elizabeth show different modifications, so you can pick which person to follow based on your strength, flexibility, or skill level.

I have to say that while the thigh exercises left my legs shaking and the glute section was so intense that it made the left side of my a$$ cramp so badly I fell to my knees, it was the abs that were the biggest surprise for me. I’ve done all sorts of ab work over the years (somewhere in my body there’s a set of killer abs, I swear!) and so I thought I knew what worked and what didn’t. I thought i’d seen and done it all. I was wrong(just typing that seemed wrong). The abs section of Core Fusion was so painfully effective that I would watch this video after a workout at the gym just for that.

The other thing that I really enjoyed about this tape was that I don’t always have time to devote to the entire thing and so it’s nice to be able to pick and choose what I want to work on. The sessions are short, but effective. There are tons of workout DVD’s that carry that tagline, but few deliver. Core Fusion Bodysculpt certainly does. And no, they didn’t pay me to say that. I’m saying it because it’s true, darnit!

Running is on hold for now. It’s frustrating and I haven’t totally made my peace with that yet. I still feel the yearning to lace up, throw on my running skirt and do my best impression of Usain Bolt (it’s a bad impression for several reasons). The desire and need has not dissipated. That old saying applies here- the mind is willing…and that’s what is so hard.

Yoga is the closest I have come to feeling that cathartic mind release, but my body needs more. So I’ll keep looking for alternatives. I ‘ll take every little bit of progress that I can get.

Speaking of progress and looking on the bright side, I want to end on a positive note:

* It’s hell week at work- the Board of Trustees is coming and i’m working like a dog. I got no sleep last night. I go down to get a latte from the coffee place and before I even open my mouth, the barista looks at me and says, “Double shot?” Burn. However, I DID get a “cute outfit!” I chose to focus on that comment and my day got just a little brighter.

* I finally decided to take the first step working up to drinking a green smoothie- a Bare Naked Smoothie. It’s got all sorts of yummy, natural ingredients- no artificial flavors, chemicals or preservatives. I know it’s pasteurized, so it’s not the same thing, but I just needed to get over my aversion to drinking my greens. Aversion conquered. I’ll try a green smoothie soon.

Yes, I used my Lulu bag as a backdrop ;)

* My class tonight was captioned by a woman sitting next to me, who typed every single word spoken during the class. It was the very first time EVER that I have sat through a class and missed nothing. It was the first time I ever felt free to participate without feeling nervous anxiety that I would say something already said or contradicted by something I missed. It was glorious.

*I have 2 breakfast recipes burning a hole in my head- 10 minute Oatmeal Bar Bites and Whole Wheat and Oat Blueberry and Cinnamon muffins. They are delicious and i’ll be posting those soon!

*I’m about to finally go to bed after a long day and I’m happier than I was when I woke up this morning. I think that’s a pretty darn good thing.

How do you deal with setbacks? Have you ever had an injury or other issue that has prevented you from doing something you loved? How did you cope?

About annenglish

I often think my the right side of my brain dominates- I live to create things. Color is one of the things that brings me great joy and in everything that I do, it is a theme that takes on great aesthetic importance. I am a jewelry designer, metal artist and writer (wanna-be.) During the day I work in an office, and while I like it, I spend my days dreaming about the next thing I want to make. As a result, I am the post-it queen- design ideas are always strewn about my desk, waiting for me to gather them up and take them home at the end of the day. Oh, yeah. I'm also a tremendous slob, which is unfortunate because I love to cook and washing dirty dishes is my least favorite chore to tackle. I'm a healthy food enthusiast and amateur chef. Cooking is a tremendous creative outlet for me- experimentation is my hallmark...whether it's surprising color combinations or flavor combinations.
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4 Responses to The Rise and Fall of a Runner.

  1. Try some Dave Farmar and you might feel differently about yoga, I promise :D

  2. I’ll still never run. Ever. BUT i will say that Green smoothies ROCK. You have to try one. And p.s. your blog isn’t blocked at work!

  3. Yes I have been down the injury train. In 2006 I dislocated my left kneecap (yes it hurt as much as you would think) and was off martial arts training for months. Then last year I pulled my hamstring while running a half and was off running for about a month and a half.

    It sucks, agreed. Being forced to find something else to do is a nice change. Sure we grumble through it but it’s helping us learn more about ourselves and what we can do.

  4. foodcents says:

    I know how bad it sucks to suddenly not be able to do something that was a huge release to you, due to a medical condition. It does get easier and you find other means to try and obtain that release, but you have to give it time. I think it all comes to a level of acceptance, one of which will very greatly day-to-day. I think it makes you appreciate all that you still can do, though.

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