Easing Back In

by tessa8m on November 7, 2013

in Running

I’m here I’m here! Only let two weeks lapse this time… not too bad right?! ;)

This post is inspired by what happened last night. For the first time in nearly two years, I went for a run where I had no pain, no fatigue radiating throughout my legs and body, I felt light, springy… feelings that I thought I would never experience again. Please please please, let me be coming back to the sport I love so very much.

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For the record, I did not jump from zero to running 3 miles overnight, I’ve been working up to it… but this is the first time the pain, dead, heavy feeling has simply not been there.

Allow me to back up a bit here.

For those who do/have not read my blog before or with any regularity, I will summarize this relentless issue as briefly as possible. It all started almost exactly two years ago when I ran my 4th half-marathon in Hartford, CT and while I finished OK, the second half of the race I experienced fatigue, especially in my legs, unlike anything I had felt before. My legs felt heavy, my feet ached, there was even numbness at certain points, yet such things did not worry me at the time, and I concluded it was just an “off day.”

A senior undergraduate at the time, I went right back to my weekly exercise schedule of 6 or so days a week of consisting of either running (at least 5 miles, anything less was a waste! In my crazy mind), HIIT style workouts, strength training, kick boxing classesIntense, hard-on-the-body activities. Although I was doing much better by that time regarding the eating aspects of my eating disorder (aka eating appropriate amounts), my obsession for exercising, the need I felt to burn a heavy-duty amount of calories each day in order to justify my intake, was a force that was stronger than ever.

Overtraining

The workouts continued, I walked miles around campus each day, stretching/foam rolling were activities I had no need for… previous to the fatigue felt in that half-marathon, I never experienced any issues with over-training and made the incorrect conclusion that I was somehow above such theories. Had.to.burn.those.calories. “Had” to otherwise, how could I continue to eat the way and amounts I was without gaining too much OMG fat?! Clearly, I was still very constricted and bound in the tight clasp of the eating disorder.

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Hitting pause for a hot second here. I was going to continue writing my back story on this topic, but then decided to take a moment to research in my archives for posts on this very subject. Holy crap, I didn’t realize how much I have written about this in the past 2 years! Therefore instead of repeating myself here, I’m going to link to a few of the posts which I feel explain details, what has led up to it, my physical and mental feelings.. all that fun stuff. If you are at all interested, please read any of these :)

Those are my personal favorites and ones I feel do the best ‘splanin.

i-love-lucy

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The 4th post above was the start of getting on the healing bandwagon, and yet… my mind did not completely accept this conclusion for months. I went to 5 or so more sessions, but once my insurance coverage stopped, there was now way I could continue going and paying the full amount. At that point I remember thinking, “okay, Graston and the theory both makes sense and research backs them up, but why aren’t I feeling better now? I rest (sort of), I stretch (when I find time), I’m eating enough (some days), shouldn’t I be at 100% after all of this time and effort?”

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Such delusion in those last few sentences… delusion stemming from my impatience to get back to running, to feeling energized for every workout, and the allowance to get back to my “normal” workout schedule. What I did not understand then and certainly do now, that such a healing process was going to take A LONG time…. undoing years and years of brutal, deteriorating damage was going to take a 100% mental and physical effort.

In February earlier this year, after still not physically feeling better, I made the irrational, yet sure-fire conclusion that I MUST have something terribly wrong with me… some kind of degenerative muscle disease, Fibromyalgia, MS (ALS?!), an issue with the neurons in my muscles, and other dire illnesses. Convincing myself I have a deadly disease is not something new and that whole checking symptoms over the internet thing? Just don’t do it… when will I learn?!

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Admittedly I was still in the denial stage at this point and my eating issues, which I opened up about once the hell of school was over, were increasingly worse. I refused to acknowledge that what I really needed was rest. This is pretty embarrassing to reflect on but yes, I did end up seeing both a neurologist and a specialist focusing on muscle issues, telling them my complaints and the various ailments I had been experiencing for 1.5 years by that point. I even received a test involving shocks to make sure the neurons in my leg muscles were responding to a stimulus. They did. No deadly disease for me (thank God!)… and once again, I wasted money I didn’t really have on unnecessary medical care, a semi-regular occurrence throughout my time with an eating disorder.

Following these appointments, plus those crap bills I received in the mail, I finally got it through my thick, stubborn head that oh wow, resting really is the answer. However, let’s not forget about stretching and rolling on a daily basis! While I did not completely abstain from exercising, as I think I might have lost my mind, over the summer and up until this point, I have eased up a considerable amount.

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Strength training has been my jam during my running hiatus, doing so 2-3x per week, and walking has become an activity I look forward to on the other days of the week. These days I add in the random yoga class, elliptical training, zumba, and other group-fitness style workouts that have allowed me to ease my mind, while also caring for my body, never over-doing it. However, I believe the number one reason I am feeling so much better now, are the two standbys, stretching and foam rolling.

With some help from a physical therapist at my gym, I developed a solid stretching and foam rolling routine which I do on a daily basis. Along with hip, hamstring and flute-strengthening exercise, I find that my lower-body feels both stronger and solid, yet looser and lighter. Although there are days that I am just not in the mood to do my exercises and take the extra time for stretching, for the most part, I’ve done it anyway.

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It has taken me 2(ish) years to both understand and internalize that as much as I would like to think of myself as some super human who doesn’t need rest, does not need to take the time to stretch, can under-fuel and be A-OKAY with it, such things are just NOT TRUE. I never believed such truths until I had to, until my body could not take it anymore and it rebelled against my disordered, driven, obsessive mind, making it impossible to enjoy the sport I love. It’s all paying off though, I’m getting back to it, the hard work stemming mainly from winning the arguments inside my own head, are getting me back to running.

Finally. Oh how I appreciate my physical ability to run more than I ever have before.

-Have you ever been forced to take a rest/break from an activity you love? What were the circumstances?

-Resting and rest days in general, what is your approach to them? I used to get major anxiety but not anymore, bring on the rest please!

-Do you stretch (and/or foam roll) on a regular basis? If so, have you noticed a difference in how you feel?

-Tell me something positive going on for you today! I know, a cheesy question, but it’s all rainy and narsty here and also want to be updated on your lives :)

I hope the rest of your Thursday is a grand one! See you all again soon.

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{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sam @ Better With Sprinkles November 7, 2013 at 12:02 pm

I’m pretty sure that foam-rolling is a godsend for people that workout a lot – it hurts, but it’s so worth it. I notice knee pain from time to time, but after 10 minutes of rolling out my IT bands, quads and hips I’m perfectly fine. And YES to rest. my rest days are anywhere from 1-3 days a week, depending on what I need. I’m glad that you’ve realized how beneficial those are, and of course, super happy that it didn’t end up being anything really serious!
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2 tessa8m November 12, 2013 at 11:09 am

Yes what a difference it makes! I saw that you were also foam rolling, and one of your goals being to continue doing so… let’s both keep that goal going huh? :)

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3 Lauren November 7, 2013 at 12:50 pm

I am so encouraged to hear that this is working for you!! I am an every day intense exerciser and it’s becoming more and more obvious that I NEED to start working rest days in or at least doing less intense exercising a few times a week…but I have just not been able to do it yet. So much anxiety that I’ll gain a million pounds…it’s like, I’d rather eat it all and kill myself exercising than just eating and exercising like a normal functioning human. I know I need to get that out of my head though before my body just starts to give out on me.

SO thank you for this post!!! I am going to continue to read through all of your older posts on this subject for inspiration.

My positive today– I found gingerbread M&Ms at the store so…that will be fun to try ;)

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4 tessa8m November 12, 2013 at 11:08 am

Hi Lauren,

Well goodness, thank you for your kind words here and I am both honored and GLAD that my thoughts and actions on all of this are able to help YOU! This is soooo difficult, both mentally and physically, but at some point, you have got to rest, or seriously ease up. I have learned this the hard way and have been my fatigue and overtraining issues last much longer than they probably would have if I had learned such a lesson early on. Please email me if you want to talk about any of this more, or simply vent about how you are feeling! I would not mind a conversation with you on this, as it helps me too :)

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5 Lauren November 21, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Hey girl! I tried to e-mail you using the one you have in Contact but it bounced back??

6 Tessa @ Amazing Asset November 22, 2013 at 12:22 am

Oh so weird! Try this email, Tessam1989@yahoo.com. Looking forward to hearing from you!

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7 Amy Lauren November 7, 2013 at 3:39 pm

I’m so glad to see a post from you in my reader, as always! I’m glad things are going well for you and you were able to get a 3 mile run in. It may not be as far or as fast but at least you did it! I too had to take a hiatus back in 2010 due to severe anemia, which unfortunately I still struggle with anemia.

It’s really tough to come back but it is possible, and I’m glad you had a good PT and were still active even when you couldn’t run (I think some people just love a sport and when they can’t do it, they just give up rather than trying other options and maybe finding something they like enough to keep up a few times a week).

I definitely take rest days, I take every Friday off workouts completely! I think it’s very important to rest one day out of the week and sometimes to do lighter workouts too. You can’t go hard all the time, or you will end up injured.
Amy Lauren recently posted..James Island Connector Run Review (49:52)

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8 tessa8m November 12, 2013 at 11:06 am

When I simply could not run (and still barely do at this point), I had to do other exercises, mainly ST, to not completely lose it. Although I probably would have done better by simply resting with the occasional walk thrown in there, I don’t think I would have been mentally okay to do that. With school going on especially, I couldn’t take anymore anxiety and stress that was already plaguing me

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9 Hollie November 7, 2013 at 3:50 pm

This post made me smile to the power of 10,000 suns. I remember how frustrated you were and now having some answers has got to feel liberating. I tend to take a rest day weekly now and it has really done wonders to keep me injury free honestly. :-)
Hollie recently posted..Lessons Learned from Marathon Training

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10 tessa8m November 12, 2013 at 11:05 am

Thank you Hollie :) yes you have read my relentless complaints on this matter and it’s such a relief to finally be making some headway on the issue

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11 colleen November 7, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Good for you, Tessa!!!! I have no doubt that you will be back to long-distance running as long as you continue to take care of your body. Stretching and resting are crucial for athletes. If Olympians do it then us “regulars” have to do it!!!!
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12 tessa8m November 12, 2013 at 11:04 am

We certainly do! Yes it’s taken FAR TOO LONG for me to get that, but it’s finally sinking in

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13 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats November 7, 2013 at 4:39 pm

yes! I’m so glad you’re feeling better during your runs!
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14 tessa8m November 12, 2013 at 11:04 am

Thank you miss Katie!

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15 Sarah @pickyrunner November 7, 2013 at 4:47 pm

Words can’t even begin to describe how happy I am for you. Not even close. You are incredible and I’m so, so excited that you are finally not feeling that pain since you know I felt the exact same pain you’re talking about this summer. And while I wanted to believe that a few days of lighter running or activity would help, it really did take months for mine to heal and I’m lucky it didn’t take years. You were patient and are finally getting back to a healthy place physically and mentally. I always love when you pop in and reading this post made my afternoon. Seriously. Congrats girl, I can’t wait to see you make a full comeback, if that’s what you choose to do. You’ve learned so much over the past few years and they are lessons you will be able to use for the rest of your life.
Sarah @pickyrunner recently posted..Back To College! My highlight reel

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16 tessa8m November 12, 2013 at 11:03 am

Goooo thank you Sarah :) This means a lot coming from you because I know you and I are so similar! It’s that whole healing mind thing that takes longer… or maybe is just harder to deal with? Either way, we both continue to be on the right track and less continue that shall we?

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17 Ben November 7, 2013 at 5:46 pm

I’m glad you are making such great progress, Tessa! You definitely deserve it.
As for me, I was forced to stop all sports when I got sixk. I was a 4-time all-star centerfielder in baseball, a standout basketball player, and led my baseball teams in home runs and stolen bases 3 years in a row. I was in the middle of running my freshman cross-country season when I got sick, so that was difficult. I also spent 50 days in a coma, so I did have some time to get used to it before it all hit me.

That is my story in a very small nutshell.

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18 tessa8m November 12, 2013 at 11:02 am

Well goodness I have never known the extent of what occurred to you! I hope you are feeling MUCH better by this point Ben

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19 Jess November 7, 2013 at 6:11 pm

Glad you’re feeling better and took the rest days you needed. Must feel amazing to run again!!! I’ve just taken 2 months off and probably need more. In the past I would have freaked taking a break like that bu now I know when I need it! Even though the whole nursing school debacle was so stressful for you you have grown a lot this year!
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20 tessa8m November 12, 2013 at 11:01 am

Thank you Jess… I certainly have grown a lot this year and although it’s been a painful ride, but I’m coming out alright on the other side :)

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21 Tara@PNWRunner November 7, 2013 at 6:23 pm

I wish that I foam rolled every single day. I do it maybe once a week and I know that I need to do it more. I went trail running up a mountain on Sunday and my legs are still dying. I tried to rest, but that is hard for me since I am so active. I took yesterday off and did a Flywheel class today. It felt good to get the legs moving again!
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22 tessa8m November 12, 2013 at 11:00 am

Trust me, I am with you on that hard to rest thing! Obviously haha. I hope your legs are feeling better by this point Tara :)

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23 Khushboo Thadani November 7, 2013 at 10:57 pm

Oooh I remember reading about your struggles and am SO glad you are feeling better. Our bodies are smarter than we give ‘em credit for- so long as we listen and comply, they will eventually correct themselves. The fear of injury is one of my huge motivators for keeping my running to 2-3 times a week. I used to run daily but I could feel myself burning out, both mentally and physically. My workout schedule now tends to include 2 rest days. The remaining 5 days include a mix of running and strength training :)!
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24 tessa8m November 12, 2013 at 10:59 am

Yes, let’s not forget about actual injuries that can be a serious sideliner! Yes I was/am still overtrained, but that doesn’t mean an injury could not happen as well. Even more reason to continue being careful and embrace that rest

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25 Amanda @ .running with spoons. November 7, 2013 at 11:05 pm

Awwr I’m happy to hear that you’ve been able to enjoy some pain-free runs, lady :) I’m just getting back into running myself, and it’s definitely nice to be able to do it without feeling like I’m going to die. I had to take a good few years off from any intense exercise to let my body and hormones heal up from all the damage I did to them through my ED and restrictive years. I was SUPER hesitant to jump back into it because I was afraid that I’d just open myself up to the addiction again, but I think I’ve finally reached a place where I see exercise as a way to achieve health rather than as a way to burn calories — I’m liking the shift :)
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26 tessa8m November 12, 2013 at 10:58 am

That is so just… great… to hear you have reached such a place! Though I wouldn’t say I am completely away from feeling the “need” to exercise, intensely at that, I am getting closer to such a point. Just have to push through any negativity and anxiety coming from the disordered part of my noggin

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27 Coach Dion November 8, 2013 at 12:52 am

I have an athlete who thinks I’m swearing at her when I talk about rest and food… I glade you know how important those two things are for us guys who love the train hard and all the time…
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28 tessa8m November 12, 2013 at 10:57 am

It took a longggg time for me to get it through my thick head that yes indeed, rest does you wonders and is NECESSARY

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29 Natasha November 8, 2013 at 8:03 am

Ya i hear ya girl, rest days used to suck! Now they are awesome and necessary (sometimes I take about 4 rest days – it depends on my school schedule and sleep lol). I am active otherwise though because I have to walk EVERYWHERE on campus for classes, so even when I’m not exercising, I kind of am because I have to lug around a huge backpack all the time.

I think that there is this trap that we all think we need to lose more and more and MORE weight, but at a certain point it has to stop. I’m pretty happy with where I am at right now. I really just tend to workout when it feels right. Intuitive exercise lol…like intuitive eating. My friends will sometimes tell me about their intense workout regimes, extreme diet whatnots, and I just think gosh it sounds so ludicrous that people torture themselves (and that used to be me!!!).
Basically I created this mindset: is this the life I want to live? Waking up everyday feeling exhausted, hungry, with swollen muscles, upset, etc. UM NO!!!
Running, as I am sure you can identity with, is my thing! I loved it so much when I first started, and now I’m learning about what a gift it is!
I’m glad that you are taking it easy and easing back into it. Make it an enjoyable experience. Not about weight loss, but about feeling good about yourself and enjoying the fact that you have the ability to go out there and run to your heart’s content (or lungs and legs… ;) )
I hope you have an AWESOME weekend :)
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30 tessa8m November 12, 2013 at 10:55 am

I hear ya. Admittedly I do find it a bit… uncomfortable… when friends talk about their crazy, tiresome and intense workout regime or “way of eating” (aka diet) they are currently doing. But then I remember, I could do that do, and then suffer the consequences! It becomes all consuming for me, and at this point, need to stay away from anything intense and keep on healing the oleeee bodaay ;)

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31 Lauren (@PoweredbyPB) November 8, 2013 at 8:57 am

This is great news Tessa, I’m really pleased for you!! I’ve been neglecting foam rolling and yoga lately, need to get back into that routine.
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32 tessa8m November 12, 2013 at 10:53 am

Man oh man does it make a positive difference :)

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33 Allie November 8, 2013 at 4:38 pm

When I had to stop swimming for a few months because I had nose surgery, I really re-examined my relationship with the sport. As you know, swimming can be such an ALL CONSUMING sport. It takes up so much. When I finally got back to it, I realized I wasn’t as into it as I thought I was! Sometimes you can only learn lessons like that by “force” (like being unable to swim or run for whatever reason).

Anyways, I am so glad you’re beginning to feel better!! Happy birthday, by the way!
Allie recently posted..More life stuff

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34 tessa8m November 12, 2013 at 10:53 am

Oh yes mam it certainly can! Being forced to do anything makes you automatically not want to do it… it’s so helpful to get away from that mindset. And thank you Allie dear!

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35 P November 8, 2013 at 5:21 pm

You must be so happy! I’m happy for you :D!
And for it being your first pain-free run in two years, a 9:00/mi pace is amazing :D

I am still not a strict stretcher (I know, I know!) but perhaps if a foam roller magically appeared on my doorstep, I would be persuaded to :P
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36 tessa8m November 12, 2013 at 10:52 am

Haha they’re actually not too expensive! I paid 20 dollars for one of mine at Marshalls, definitely a good investment :)

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37 P November 12, 2013 at 2:48 pm

Never thought to look at Marshalls! I’ll look out for them next time.
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38 Chelsea's Healthy Kitchen November 8, 2013 at 6:26 pm

Yeahhh girl I’m so happy for you about your most recent run! It looks like all your resting and taking care of yourself is paying off. That’s awesome! :D As you know, I’m totally in the same boat as you with enjoying lower intensity exercise and lots of walking during the past year along with lots of rest days. And you know what? It feels so friggin’ great. Reading blogs over the past 4-5 years gave me the crazy idea that exercising like a maniac every day is necessary – but I’m glad I eventually saw reason and adapted my exercise routine to MY needs. One thing I’m still not good at is foam rolling though. I know I should do it more because my knees/hips are still giving me crazy problems but I just can’t stick to a routine! I would love to hear more about yours so I could maybe find some motivation. :P
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39 tessa8m November 12, 2013 at 10:51 am

I could certainly make a post about the routine I use! It’s nothing fancy, but it does seem to be working (continue to please, fingers crossed!). I will admit though, I do have a hard time sticking to it at times as well. But then I remember that woahhh it’s actually doing something and that thought allows me to set aside the 20-30 min to just do it :) So sorry you are having issues still… are they the same ones that have been plaguing you for years now?

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40 Jocelyn @ Peace Love Nutrition November 12, 2013 at 1:32 pm

hiii– I’ve missed you! I had to do the same with YOGA (which I lvoe) I hurt my shoulder and had to stop doing it for 4 months. I was really sad then and couldnt’ find another for of exercise I liked (so went through a funk.)
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41 tessa8m November 18, 2013 at 10:03 am

Gahh I hear you on that funk… here is to getting completely out of it SOON please

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