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.
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 classes… Intense, 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.
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.
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
- Confessing my exercise compulsion and how it relates to food intake
- Frustration, impatience and “sneaking” workouts
- Losing something that defines me
- Beginning to find some answers
Those are my personal favorites and ones I feel do the best ‘splanin.
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?”
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?!
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.
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.
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.