Make sure you rest at least 10 days before the marathon (and think positive thoughts!)
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I’ve been thinking I need to sit down and tell you what my training has been like over the last month because I think it might be helpful to someone out there. As you all know (at least now you will) the Pacific Northwest Marathon is coming up-in 12 days!! I have decided that I want to run the marathon and I have been training for it. Running has become second nature and enjoyable on so many levels. During my training I’ve encountered IT band issues and hip alignment issues, but nothing devastating has happened- so I did not fully appreciate how easy it was for me nor did I fully appreciate just being able to wake up each morning and run however far I needed to and know it would be fun and I would finish well. Then I got sick.
About 3 weeks ago I started coming down with this icky flu that involved chills, aches and pains and an awful, persistent cough. Suddenly I was weak and couldn’t do anything. I took a weekend break and Monday morning, in spite of feeling crummy, I decided to resume my training. That week I spent sleeping and having awful night sweats and chills but I was determined to push through. My training partner toned it down for me-she could tell I was not feeling strong, and I struggled through the week, ending that week with a 20 miler that felt like death-but with tennis shoes. I finally decided that whatever was wrong was not the flu and wasn’t going away. I went back to the doctor (the first doctor told me I just had the flu) and my doctor said “pneumonia”. Blah!!!! I decided that I had to take a week off. I didn’t want to, but all those around me who had their thinking capacity intact (unlike myself) said “rest!!-or you will just get worse.” After a long week of coughing up ‘stuff’ and finishing my antibiotics, I was able to resume my training-but in a weakened state.
It was so discouraging and terrifying to feel weak and unable to do what I could before. All I can say is that you only have two choices -are you going to put those shoes back on and move forward, or are you going to let yourself be beat and wallow in a tub of ice-cream and self pity? There is only one way to get stronger at that point-TAKE CHARGE and GET MOVING! It has been hard, I have been scared and worried about the marathon because I suddenly feel vulnerable and weaker but I am choosing to succeed. I don’t know what race day will bring but I have decided that I still have it in me, that I will love that 26.2 mile run no matter what and that the runs that are the hardest to do mean the most.
I still love running! It has been an amazing journey so far, and the longer I run the more I learn about life and myself. This time around I have learned that sometimes you do need to give your body a break and rest-IT IS IMPORTANT! And I have gained a greater appreciation for: being able to run, being able to labor in taking care of my family, and feeling strong.
I used to think that exercise meant running, aerobics, strength training, and all of those other high intensity activities. But now, at the age of 61, I have come to realize that exercise can involve so many other things. I have always been a walker(a brisk walker) and I still walk at least 3-4 days a week. I wanted to add another type of exercise that would help build my upper body strength. I have never had upper body strength. I remember that in high school we had to do the Presidential physical fitness test. I did really well on all of the tests that didn’t involve using my upper body. I couldn’t even do one push-up, I could only hang on the bar for three seconds, and trying to do a pull up was a joke.
I knew that I didn’t want to go to the gym and lift weights so I decided to join a women’s bowling league. Now for many of you I am positive you don’t associate bowling with a way to build upper body strength. After all, how much strength does it take to throw a bowling ball down the lane? For me it takes a lot. I can only use a 12 lb. ball and by the time I have bowled 3 games my arms are exhausted. I am finding that they are less tired now that I have been bowling for 8 months. I can actually throw the ball hard enough so that every once in a while(not often) I can actually get at least one strike. That’s not one strike in a game; that’s one strike in 3 games.
The nice thing about bowling in a league is that it is fun. Well, the game isn’t always fun but the women I bowl with make it fun. We laugh constantly about how bowling is a mystery game–you never know what’s going to happen.
I guess my point is that exercise is exercise. It comes in many forms and there are health benefits to each type of exercise. Do I get the same health benefits from bowling that I get from walking? No! But, I get the health benefit of building my upper arm strength, of laughing, and of spending time sharing with others. Bowling gets me out of the house and gets me moving. Isn’t that what exercise is supposed to do?
I am not a very good bowler but I am a better bowler than I was at the beginning of the season. How good I am doesn’t matter. What does matter is that I am exercising. Find an exercise that you enjoy doing. You don’t have to be good at it. If you enjoy the exercise you have chosen you will be more likely to stick with it. What do you like to do that gets you moving? Horseshoes? Croquet? Badminton? As they say, “Just Do It”.
This morning was glorious! I went on a little run with my friend Amity up Mt. Pisgah. The Craguns, founders of the Pacific Northwest Marathon, were also there with their four adorable children. There is something so invigorating and peaceful about starting your day early and with a communion with nature. Fog hugged the hills, the air was fresh and cold, and the sounds of nature (and our labored breathing) was all that broke the still beauty of the trail. Amity and I struggled to run up that hill. It was hard, we had to stop and walk a couple of times to avoid DEATH…….maybe I am exaggerating a little…but we kept at it and made it up to the top in decent time. I had to keep reminding myself that we did our long run yesterday so today was just frosting. It was just fun!
I have four fantastic kids. I love them! They are energetic, intelligent, creative and they laugh at my jokes. How could a mom want anything more? Every once in a while, though, I feel bogged down, overwhelmed and outnumbered and my running has become this sweet moment of personal inner peace. I often feel like I could just lift off of the ground and fly through the air. I am so filled with euphoria as I run. I don’t know how else to describe how delicious it is to me. This morning was such a moment for me. As I continued on with the rest of my day I kept thinking about how energized my soul feels-that may sound a little silly, but its true. I feel energized down to the core.
I am filled with gratitude. I am grateful to the Craguns for reaching out to me and including me in their journey and vision for health, fitness and running. I am grateful to my friend Amity who is like a mentor to me. She is so talented and strong and has experience and knowledge about training that she selflessly shares with me. I am so grateful to my husband who has so wholeheartedly supported my crazy running and given me encouragement while carrying an extra load so that I can do the things I need to train for the marathon.
Training has required commitment, effort and the planning and labors of several individuals. We never have a road that we truly travel alone. What a wonderful life.. It is good to remember the things we are grateful for, the people who have given to us so that when we feel tempted to give up, feel discouraged, or even complain we remember all the efforts and love from all of the people who care about us and for whom we care.