January 10, 2013

Heart Vs. Body

A few years ago when I was training for my marathon, I walked in and my sports doc said, "You have the heart of an endurance athlete..." To which I replied, "But not the physical structure to go with it..." and he shook his head and said, "No... No."

Heart and attitude can get you through anything. It is the aftermath, when the physical breaks down, that you pay for it.

I made it through two half marathons, a whole, and all the horrible training that went with it.

- Up at 3:30 to start running by 4:30.
- Running for miles in places that were set up without bathrooms
- Physical therapy to get me through the races
- Nearly blacking out during the Physical therapy as it hurt so bad
- Feeling myself want to vomit as I walked into the Physical therapy place, knowing what was going to happen
- Still training... even though I knew what I was doing to myself.

Three years of Karate 10 years ago, training 4 hours a week, plus running, swimming, cycling, and lifting on the side. I hated the hand to hand combat since it was just me and a bunch of men and I could never win. But I stuck with it and that was the beginning of what I am now fighting with my left calf, ankle and foot.

Signing up for a marathon was when the real struggle started. And my trainers kept telling me, "You need to stop. You need to bust down to the half. Don't do the full..." and I said, "No. I signed up for the full. I WILL complete the full..."

And I did. As all of you know, because you supported me through the entire thing.

And then I got the call to ask to Mentor for the Half and I thought I was healed and besides, "running 13.1 miles is NOTHING compared to 26.2. Besides, my body didn't really start to break down until Mile 15..."

I am perhaps, the Queen of Rationalization. And of course, we have my boundary issues. I have to win. I have to complete. I have to have closure. Winning isn't always against someone else, but against my own expectations.

Said the doc during my marathon training, "You can't run for the next week. You need a week off."

Replied I, "So can I swim?"

And he said yes, and I swam two miles every other day, full on swimming, until I came back into his office more hobbled and in horror he asked, "What in the world did you do? You have achilles tendonitis now ON TOP OF your post tibial tendonitis...."

And when he found out, he was pissed and said, "NO. YOU can do NOTHING. Everyone else I can tell to walk or swim. But NOT YOU. YOU... are to do NOTHING NOW."

In my defense. I think he should have known. He's an Ironman Triathlete. He knows the mentality.

Just add in the fact I'm an endorphin junky. But aren't all of us that train?

So. All of this... for what?

I'm hobbled again. For two years, I have pretty much done nothing. I quit working out, no walking, no nothing. I gained about 15 pounds. And this Christmas, I found this great little gym where I have an electronic key card where I can come and go as I please, 24/7, and decided, "I can't not exercise anymore."

I have been doing light walking, trying to ease in, and cycling combined with beginning weight training... low weight high reps. Immediately the tendon flared up again.

I'm quickly approaching 50 (I'm 47). My body doesn't recover like it did in it's 30s. I'm aware of that and I've been really taking it easy. It's hard for my personality, but I have.

I went to a podiatrist and she's got me getting new orthotics, I'm banned from lower body weight lifting, running, elliptical, stair master and treadmill. I can cycle only. I can do upper body weight. I'm wrapped, iced, taped and compliant.

I have to be compliant. If not, there is surgery in the future and I'm not going that route. My husband wants me back with the sports doc I saw with my marathon, but he is 30 minutes away.

And my husband doesn't get it. I know on some level I must have some masochistic tendancies. I must or I'd not have pushed through it all and done more and never flinched at the thought.

But everyone has their limit and the thought of willingly putting myself in a position where I black out from pain... that's my limit. I'm saving that for when my new doc says, "Surgery is the option..." and I say, "no thank you" and walk.

If I was a horse, they'd shoot me. I'd be at the glue factory already.

Today Writersblock is doing her marathon. This must be my 4 year anniversary... It is this marathon I did back then. The Disney... in this wicked sticky weather.

I remember all of it... the best banana, the wanting to vomit after eating chocolate, running an 8 minute mile through Disney and feeling good, the gospel choir in full church robes, the high school bands, the cheering, my family coming out to support me, the txt messages I received that kept me moving, the ice cold coke my friend bought me, my body breaking down, my left hand swelling to twice it's size, feeling my shoes get too small, the ache, taking my left shoe off and seeing that there were bruises where the tongue hit my foot, along the stitching, not being able to walk to dinner with my family, the shuffling.

Walking into my sports doc's office the next day and hearing him say, "I have this overwhelming urge to strip you down and put you in a big ice bath..." and thinking, "I might be game..."

T asked me once if I'd do it again, knowing what I know now. I was hesitant.

But the answer is... Yes. Yes I would. But I'll never do another. And my running days are over.

My goal now is just to be fit. Keep my heart in good condition. Keep my weight down.

I'm mellowing.

I'm not sure that's a bad thing.

It's better than being at the glue factory.

Posted by Boudicca at January 10, 2013 05:41 PM

I hear you. Never a marathoner, but I have exercised my entire adult life. Now, at nearly 56 there are things I just cannot do anymore and it galls!

If we feel like 25 inside, shouldn't our bodies comply? It's a stinging betrayal.

Posted by: pam at January 13, 2013 01:02 PM

So are you now at the point of taking 3 Aleve (naproxen sodium) before bed to help the tendons heal.

I'm currently in that regimen for a couple months until the right knee heals from jumping out of the moving truck we used to get all our camping stuff to the state park. Said knee was dislocated November 1970 pushing a car out of a drift.

Its been close to a month and the knee doesn't snap-crackle-pop any more and I don't have to wear my knee brace.

Posted by: The Thomas at January 13, 2013 01:22 PM

It cracks me up that you are perfectly Ok with the concept of *running* 26 miles, yet the idea of *driving* for 30 minutes is just too much.

When I go to the doctor, I probably spend 30 minutes just driving around the parking garage looking for a spot!

In Los Angeles, to go *anywhere* is at least a 30 minute drive. Heck, I used to drive 2 hours each way for work (and that is not uncommon). Now I feel lucky to only have a 45 minute commute.

30 minute drive? Piece of cake! LOL

Posted by: DogsDontPurr at January 13, 2013 02:22 PM

yes, it's been 4 years since that race.
this year was the 20th anniversary. Awesome bling. I'm a bling addict, not an endorphin junkie.

But today... was abysmal. I can never do another 26.2 again.

Posted by: wRitErsbLock at January 13, 2013 05:06 PM

Pam- I need to focus on stretching. As soon as I get my hernia fixed, I'm going to take Pilates once a week. I'm about as flexible as a brick and I think if I focus more on being stretchy and firm, that will be better for me. I think my body is done with full court press I constantly put it through.

Thomas- I'm trying not to. I hurt so bad at night sometimes, I think we're going to be doing that soon. I'm only taking one and it's not doing enough. My stomach gives me problems if I do too much, so I'm trying to stay away from that... but we're pushing the envelope of unavoidable.

Last time I did big anti-inflammatories it tore up my stomach. I ended up on this bland diet for 6 weeks. I woke up at 4AM one morning, thinking I was having a heart attack, until I took my pulse. It was 62. I knew I wasn't having one then...

DDP- OK, that is a damn funny way to put it. That's a funny perspective. I'll run for hours, but I won't drive! However, it's really not that. My job now is different than it was then. I work more and to take 30 minutes, really means an hour, and I can't afford to be gone that long. It'll be twice a week with him. The podiatrist is 5 minutes from work. However, I don't think she's going to cut it. I suspect I'll have to go back to him.

I just need to wrap my mind around it. It is so painful, and thinking about it, makes my chest hurt. I'd lay there while he worked that tendon over, and I'd start to pass out from the pain and he'd say, "You MUST breathe..." I can't make myself do that yet...

Writersblock- I was worried for you. I was watching your splits across your twitter feed. I could tell by mile 20 you were spent and feeling like total and utter crap.

We aren't Greek or Ethiopian. There are other things we can do...

Posted by: Bou at January 13, 2013 05:46 PM

Welcome to the club.

Posted by: Angus of Jura at January 13, 2013 06:27 PM

I can understand your stomach issues. I'm taking my lansoprazole at the same time I take the naproxen sodium.

But then I have had stomach acid issues for several years prior to having to take NSAIDs.

Nothing like waking up a 4AM with a mouth full of stomach acid. Actually I wake up as it is running up my esophagus.

I have no middle ground. Either nothing or the flood up the throat. So it goes.

Back when I was receiving PT after my shoulder surgery, I would take the pain meds before the PT in an attempt to knock back the pain as it is occurring rather than try to deal with it afterwards.

Once I got to know the therapist I would just zone out (disassociate) while she wiggled my shoulder around and then use the cold pack afterwards rather than mess with drugs. YMMV

Posted by: The Thomas at January 13, 2013 06:35 PM

Dad- It's kind of a crappy club, but hey, we can say we did a marathon right? I think I can get it under control. It's just going to take patience.

Thomas- Yes, zoning out. Disassociating. That's what I did for that last 6.2 miles. I think practicing during the physical therapy was a big help on the actual day!

Posted by: Bou at January 13, 2013 09:44 PM

For what it's worth.

I injured my right foot three and a half years ago. Badly. Barely walking. I kept re-injuring it because I'd start running again, slowly at first, then pushing too hard until I re-injured myself yet again. And again. And again. I was finally able to use an elliptical, which I hate more than the Hamster Wheel (treadmill). But, it got me running (sort of) and was helping my overall health. Plus I was lifting as well, run x3, lift x2 per week.

This past summer I started wearing a 45lb rucksack while walking the dog (Oreo). My thoughts were, if I start walking like this, it may help to strengthen my foot.

Low impact, low stress, ease my way back into it.

Then I'd jog when we crossed the street. It felt good. So I started jogging a block, starting when we crossed the street. I gradually stretched that distance out.

Over the course of late May, June, July, and early August I was able to stretch it out until I jogged the entire walk with Oreo.

Finally, in August I started running on the track again. For the first time in over a year I was running outside again. I kept my pace down, using my GPS to help me stay on my pace, my slow pace. Finally, in August, I was running farther and faster than I had in several years.

I'm not setting any records, even for myself, but I'm running again when I had begun to wonder if I ever would be able to run again. In my mid 50s I was beginning to accept that I might never be able to run again except on an elliptical. Now I know that I can run again, but I keep it easy so that I don't re-injure myself yet again. I've decided that I'd rather run slow and at lesser distances than not be able to run at all anymore.

It's a deal that I can live with.

Posted by: Marcus Erroneous at January 14, 2013 10:07 AM

Bou: I wish we all had your problem, an addiction to exercise. Too many of us, myself included, like the couch and fattening foods too much.
DDP: I agree with Bou on the driving thing. I know folks who commute 40-50 miles to work and wonder why they couldn't find a home closer to their jobs. Me, if it's more than 10 miles, it's a long way and there are large parts of my own county I never see. Must be a Florida thing.

Posted by: George P. at January 14, 2013 10:21 AM

Pilates will be excellent for you, but only if you do one thing... Listen to your body! Really listen. Not "this is what I want to hear, so I'm going to ignore what it's really saying to me".

Let me repeat... Listen to what your body is telling you.

Don't ignore pain in order to get a certain workout. There are always always always modifications to the exercises to make them work for you. Some can and should be skipped because they are not going to work for you. Make sure your instructor knows your issues. A great instructor will be very happy to work with you and they want to know what might cause problems so they don't hurt you!

The beauty of it is, you can get a fantastic workout without doing damage to yourself. And you may be able to help your body repair some of the old damage done to it from the running by building up surrounding musculature.

It all rests in your own head... the understanding that actually listening to your body and working with it rather than despite it, will make you stronger.

Posted by: Teresa at January 14, 2013 11:48 AM

Marcus- Well, I was trying to ease back into it last week, just walking the neighborhood. That's when it flared. Walking. And not fast.

I really think my jogging days are over. And I'm OK with it... but I just need to be able to at least walk. And I'd like to be able to do the elliptical. As long as I have my tunes, I'm good...

George- Addicts are addicts. Endorphin junkies have their own set of issues... like breaking down their bodies too early. I think overall its the 'better' addiction, but it's still got it's own set of problems. My knees and ankles may be shot, but my heart will be healthy!

Teresa- 5 years ago I'd not be able to do that. But I can now. I can tell when the pain is causing an issue... I have to get this body to last another 35-40 years.

Posted by: Bou at January 14, 2013 10:45 PM

I am chiming in here and it's not going to be nice.

I just can not understand people who intentionally do harm to themselves and will do nothing to help themselves.

While I sit here and try to do everything in my power to help myself but my body is doing everything it can to harm me and there is nothing I can do to stop it. While you laugh about pushing through pain, I sit here hoping for just 1 day without pain.

By the time we are 80 our bodies are going to be almost the same except you did the harm to yourself while I had no choice in the matter.

I wish I had a choice, you have a choice. Chose wisely.

Posted by: Quality Weenie at January 15, 2013 10:50 AM

Nah, I'm not laughing. I never laugh at pain. For me, it was never to cause pain or damage, but to meet a goal.

But my goals are different now. My goals now are just to be healthy, maintain a good wait.

And everyone is different. I have a friend who has rheumatoid and her drugs, I suspect, are slowly killing her. One drug they took her off, because her heart was enlarging. She had her first knee replacement due to the disease, two years ago. She's still doing tri-althlons and 100 mile cycle rides.

The thought of someone telling her she can't unhinges her.

She lives in horrible pain. I cannot even imagine what she goes through... night and day... week after week.

So everyone is different.

For me, my goals have changed. The intent was never to do permanent damage and now I'm trying to mitigate it.

I suspect I'll do OK at 80, but because of what I'm doing now to prevent damage.

Moderation is the key.

Posted by: Bou at January 15, 2013 11:10 AM