Eight Minutes

Since late March I have been sidelined with a stress reaction in my foot. Yesterday I ran outside for the first time in two months. This also happened to be my first outside run in my 40s. My 40th birthday was almost two months ago. I had grand plans of running 40 laps on the track to celebrate my 40th and running parts of the Boston marathon course on my trip to Boston for a conference just days after my 40th, but none of that happened due to this injury. But I digress…

Yesterday I stepped outside in beautiful spring weather to run outside. It was glorious! Of course I wanted to go up into the Boise foothills and get lost for miles, but my body is not ready for that. My wise and wonderful coach prescribed a 2min run followed by 3 min walk on a soft surface for 20 minutes. I hit the North End alleys.

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Sun on my face, flower in my hair and garbage behind me!

Those first two minutes felt strange. Having been accustomed to running on the Alter G for the past month or so, it was wonderful to be moving forward in the fresh outdoor air with the variation of scenery. Lovely wildflowers, spring sounds, people doing yard work and fixing their houses, children playing, animals exploring, and all of these other things I have missed while I have been exercising indoors and rehabbing my injury. I wanted to keep going and going!

But at the same time my foot was pounding! On the hard ground! And I was paranoid. What if I break it again? I was thankful to stop and walk after that two minutes. I am grateful for a smart and conservative coach who does research and talks to multiple health care professionals before determining the best course of action for her athletes.

Although it was not much of a run and yes it was mostly walking (I only ran for a total of eight of the twenty minutes), it felt great because it represented forward progress and I am finally outside again. But instead of feeling thankful for those eight minutes, I found myself spending much of the remainder of the day worried about the future. Thoughts like this ran through my head throughout the afternoon: Is my foot sore? I think it’s a little sore. Maybe it’s a lot sore. Was that too much? Will it feel better by tomorrow? How will I possibly run a marathon this fall if I can’t even run eight minutes without hurting myself now? Ugh. I am going to break my foot again and have to take more time off. And more into the negative thinking hole…

At one point during the day I saw my gratitude journal sitting on my nightstand. It is mostly empty. I have lofty goals of writing in it each night but end up collapsing into bed exhausted and don’t do it. Or perhaps I check emails and Facebook before bed instead. When I saw it yesterday I remembered that instead of worrying about the future or focusing on the negative, I want to make more of a concerted effort to be thankful for the positive in each day. Even being thankful for the little things can make a huge difference in our mindsets.

In yoga practice, they teach you to accept the body that you have each day you come to practice because each day your body is different. I try to apply that to my running as well. The body that I brought to my running practice yesterday allowed me to run eight minutes outside and for that I am exceedingly grateful. I don’t know what body I will have next week, next month or next year and it is a waste of precious energy to worry about it. Instead, I want to be thankful for today. Today I can run. And eight minutes is a fabulous start.

Hey Young Running Friends: Don’t Fear the Post-Baby Body!

This morning at the track I was discussing my recent appendectomy and lamenting the fact that I had not known more of the details about the surgery ahead of time. Had I known the surgeon was going to make an incision right at my navel, I would have asked if he could have fixed my diastasis recti just above that. The conversation then turned to c-sections and tummy tucks. My twenty something running friends sans children were horrified. With their mouths agape they declared never to have kids, lest their bodies be ruined. Well, I am here to tell you, fear not young runners, having children will not ruin your body.

If you decide to have children one day, your body will change. It will grow and adapt to house the new life growing inside of you. You will feel the miracle of little hands and feet moving inside of you and hear the heartbeat of your little one. There is nothing else in the world like it. And when the time comes for you to meet your baby, you will learn just how strong and capable your body is. Your body can grow and birth another human being. It can give life. And then it can continue to feed and nourish your baby.

And yes, after giving birth and breastfeeding, your body may be different. It may take some time to return to its pre-pregnancy shape. In fact, it may not return to it’s pre-pregnancy shape and that’s okay. Post-pregnancy bodies are beautiful, strong and wonderful too. In fact, each one tells a story. The story of a mother who carried a baby, nourished a baby, and loves a child even more than she thought possible. It is one of the greatest love stories ever told.

Is my 39 year old body like my 24 year old body? No, not at all. Sure, my 24 year old body had less wrinkles, sags and stretch marks, but I did not appreciate it. I struggled with body image and self confidence. At 39, although I still have plenty of moments of self-doubt, I have a better appreciation of what this body can do. Each sag and wrinkle tells my story, and it is a story of love and of triumph. I feel stronger now than I did at 24. This body has taken me to many wonderful places, and I look forward to seeing where we will go in the future. But best of all, I have three wonderful little people beside me who call me mom. So enjoy your pre-kid bodies, my friends, but when the time comes, don’t be afraid of the changes!

Present Moment Living for the Type A Personality

Eckhart Tolle teaches us that lack of acceptance is at the root of suffering. I’ve been thinking of this quite a bit recently as I find myself wanting things to be different than how they actually are and then recognizing that if I would just accept the situation as it is, my pain and suffering would go away and I would feel more at peace. As someone who has issues with letting things go though, this is much easier said than done.

For example, I want to run the 18.6 mile Payette Lake Run this weekend, but I can’t because I just had an appendectomy two weeks ago. My wanting to run the race and the fact that I am wishing the situation were different is causing me pain and suffering. If I simply accept the situation, I will feel content and at peace. Wow, it sounds so simple when I write it out! Why is it so hard to implement?

Here are some more: My child is being irritating, I want x, y, or z to be different about my body, or I wish that my husband would appreciate me more. All of these things bring about some sort of pain or suffering in my life because they stem from the fact that I am not accepting things just as they are. So how can I do better?

Well, I think Eckhart Tolle would say that I should focus on living in the present moment because the present moment is really all that we have. (But what if the present moment really sucks? Let’s be honest, sometimes it does. But for the purposes of this post I am just talking about when we make it harder on ourselves than necessary. Which for me is a lot.)  Sometimes I focus on my breath and try to really notice what is around me. One way I can do this is by taking inventory of various things I can hear, see and feel right at that moment. But really living and staying in the present moment is difficult. My mind often wanders to worries about the past or future. And that’s okay. If I can live some in the present moment each day I am making progress.  After all I am a Type A control freak (see paragraph 1 re issues with letting go).

And speaking of being a Type A control freak, I went for my first post-appendectomy run today. An easy 3 mile run/walk on one of my favorite trails with my dog. It was a beautiful run in fall-like weather. My legs wanted to go, go, go! They were saying, “Hey, have we been tapering? Let’s race!” My core on the other hand was saying, “What the heck are you doing?! Get back on the couch and let’s watch some more football!” It felt like a weak, achy, unparticipating blob. But at least it’s a start. And now the rebuilding process begins. Hopefully I will emerge even stronger, both physically and mentally.