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What a time to be alive, am I right?
I say that both sarcastically and seriously. I don’t know about you, but for the last 15 days my thoughts have continuously fluctuated from calm, to concern, to confusion, to fear, and then back again. I’m in disbelief about the world around us right now, but overwhelmingly grateful for the technology we have keeping us connected.
In an effort to focus on the positive, I’m thanking every lucky star, counting every blessing, etc. that this whole mess started post daylight saving time, just as the temperature (at least here in South Carolina) jumped up to 70+ degrees most days.
My fellow S.A.D. sufferers get it.
I won’t lie, for the last few months I’ve been in a seasonal-affective-disorder-induced mood that left me depressed and angry. I wanted nothing to do with most human beings, with running, or anything I normally loved. I was envisioning a life in a secluded cabin in the woods, far, far away from civilization.
Thankfully with that extra hour of sunshine later in the day, the funk has melted away, just in time to help with this new “normal” we seem to be facing.
And I’ve started regularly running again.
I’ve been getting a lot of messages and comments from people saying things like “so, you’re not injured anymore?” or “are you healed?” The answer unfortunately isn’t that simple. Pelvic organ prolapse doesn’t “just go away” without surgery. However, over the last few months, suggestions from my doctor, and a ton of research, I’ve been able to discover ways to prevent the things that aggravate the POP, thus making me less symptomatic. I’ve learned how to truly focus on what muscle groups I’m isolating and what causes too much internal pressure when lifting.
And, I’m re-learning how to run.
So no, I’m not “healed”, however, I’m currently relatively asymptomatic and so I’m easing back into regular activity cautiously.
It feels funny to be “starting again” when everyone else in the world is being forced to slow down and run less. It feels oddly strange to be hitting the roads that I normally swear off, rather than my beloved trails, in order to best socially distance myself from other people (the crowds at the trails are crazy, and now our State parks are closed) and stay responsibly close to home.
I’m a trail runner gone road – but instead of being annoyed by it, I’m choosing to be grateful. Don’t get me wrong, I miss the solitude of the trails, the thrill of dodging roots and barreling up and down hills. The feeling of the breeze through the trees and the sound of nothing but the birds. The trails are my sanctuary, and it sucks to not be able to escape to them, especially during such a stressful time.
But damnit, at least I can run somewhere. Hell, at least I can finally RUN. And that’s pretty awesome.
In fact, I’ve found the timing of all of this – my forced break from running and the subsequent cancellation of races a blessing in disguise for me. Don’t get me wrong, for my friends and clients who have had goal races canceled (some of them literally while they were in taper – my Georgia Death Race friends come to mind) my heart is broken. But for me, there is suddenly zero temptation to do too much, too soon, and for that I am grateful.
I have no starting lines luring me into running just a bit further than I should to try and barely hang on to a training plan. I’ve got zero timeline convincing me that I have to reach a specific threshold by a specific date in order to be at whatever fitness level I determine “correct” or “enough”. There’s no “FOMO” watching what everyone else is doing/running/racing.
And I’m grateful, because I can truly enjoy this re-build process in whatever timeline it naturally takes. Because let me be 100% transparent: not running regularly for 3 months will tank your fitness levels pretty freaking fast. A week or two off? No problem. But three months definitely feels like starting over.
Speaking of, I think that it’s a humbling and awesome experience for someone who coaches runners to have to start from the bottom again. For the last three years, I could have run a marathon at the drop of a hat. It might not have been fast, but my endurance was always there. And it’s amazing how quickly you begin to take that for granted.
But now: I struggle to run a half mile before taking a break. And truth be told, I’m not mad about it, I’m just humbled.
Times like these you suddenly remember how humbling a run-walk interval out of necessity, because you can’t run more than 4 minutes at a time, can be. You see zone four and five heart rates at paces that used to be considered “warm up”. You experience what it feels like to run in a body that no longer feels like your own, due to weight gain. And you are once again reminded that “easy” and “difficult” paces and distances are wildly relative between athletes.
It’s almost as if I’ve come full circle, back to that girl who found herself, during a very rough time in her life, through each foot fall and gasping breath on neighborhood side roads. The one who got excited every time she was able to run a quarter mile further than before, or took just a few seconds off her mile pace. The one who found confidence and strength during a time of wild uncertainty.
I’m grateful, that at least for now, this is one old friend that we don’t need to social distance from.
Stay safe out there everyone. Please be smart, safe, and responsible enjoying your runs and other outdoor activities. Keep on being the amazing, positive, badass community that I’ve come to love. We’ll get through this.