I remember the race so clearly. I was a sophomore in high school running my second season of cross country. That summer I had experienced a great cross country camp in the hills of Vermont. At camp, I felt like one of the slow ones, but I just tried to take it day by day, listen and learn every bit I could. It was one of the first races of the season and I got caught in the back and forth with another runner from the other team along with a battle of the side stitches. Every time, the other girl came powering past me, I wanted to quit, but then out of nowhere popped Coach P. yelling words of encouragement. (She had a habit of popping up out of nowhere!) There was no quitting. Keep your eyes on that girl and go. To my surprise when I crossed through the finish line, I had a personal best! Minutes over last year's average.
I was so proud of myself.
I can be good at this. I thought.
A similar feeling happened back in December running the Kiawah Half Marathon. I stuck to my training even when I wanted to quit and I felt amazing at this race with only positive words running through my head. It was not side stitches this time. It was calf and heel pain. What kept me going this time was running along side a friend and seeing my boot campers all along the course. Pride in all of them for setting a goal and going for it and the silent but firm encouragement of my running partner that new I had a goal. Coming across the finish line, I looked up at the clock and had a personal best by almost 5 minutes.
I can still be good at this. I thought.
What happened in between those two races has been a roller coaster and a huge love hate relationship with running. I say I hate running and that it is my least favorite fitness activity. However, the truth is, I love it. I hate feeling the pain in my shins, calves, heels. I hate not knowing if I am going to have a pain free run or a feel great run. I hate not knowing how my feet are going to feel when they hit the floor in the morning and I start walking.
I eventually quit cross country and track. I quit going to physical therapy, the doctor and practice. It hurt to do what I loved and no one could fix it. I felt weak. It seemed that others could run through the pain and eventually the pain would go away for them. I couldn't figure out if I was just being a wimp or it really hurt that much. As an adult, I am not afraid to say that it hurts and it hurts that much. I am also not afraid that it is me that needs to fix it. Other people cannot fix it for me.
Through time and years of fitness and learning more as a health professional, I wish someone taught me about cross training and strength training. I also wish someone taught me about stretching... really stretching. When I look back, I realize my calves have always been tight. The physical therapist would tell me to relax when she was doing work on my legs. I was relaxed. I was as relaxed as I could get my feet and calves.
Enter adult hood, I just learned to run enough so I wouldn't irritate my feet and calves and compliment my training with biking, rowing and strength training. Of course as anything, the time would come where even just the tiniest bit of running would make you limp for the first minutes of getting out of bed. (Some might just call this getting old ;-)
Last week, I ran a 5K with my son about 3 minutes per mile slower than my typical pace and my feet still hurt the next day when I woke up. You know when sometimes it just takes that one experience to just wake you up and propel you into action. Well, that 5K with my son was it.
I remembered, I love running!
I remembered, I love setting a running goal and challenging myself to accomplish it!
I remembered, I can do this!
I decided to take action. Take action on these tight and knotted up calves and feet. I decided to stretch and work on mobility. Really stretch and work on mobility. Yesterday I promised 15 minutes a day for the month of June. Well, I confess. I think I gave it five minutes. I promise today, I will give it 15 minutes.
I confess, I love running!