Thursday, May 8, 2008

Melodrama, Don't Run from Me

I have been athletic most of my life. As a child, my sisters and I were always running around outside or riding our bikes around the neighborhood, even organizing and participating in regular “Bike Rodeos” with the other kids. As a young girl, I was in gymnastics and Mary Lou Retton was my idol. (I miss that innocence. Imagine my utter disappointment and the intensity of my broken heart to discover she had grown up to become – a Republican. Gah! Also: what a cheesy website! But still an awesome athlete.) Instead of gossiping with the girls at recess, I could be found on the football field with the boys. I had the best spiral of the bunch.

Later, in junior high, I discovered volleyball and have been hooked ever since. I still join the city league to play. I tried playing basketball but quickly discovered I couldn’t breathe and dribble at the same time. To this day, I vehemently dislike the game. (Especially men’s pro basketball. Too. Many. Egos. Also: Kobe Bryant should be in jail. Also, also: Except women’s college ball. That is still good, fundamental basketball.)

However, running has never come naturally to me, and it isn’t something I’ve ever done regularly. I tried running track in junior and high school. My time in the 100 meter dash was always a couple of seconds too slow to secure a spot in the event. The coaches always had me run the 400 meter dash and I always wanted TO DIE. Is there any worse race? Geez.

So, after three seasons I learned to hate running.


My best friend, JelBel, started running and training in earnest a couple of years ago. She completed her first half-marathon about a year ago. The determination, dedication and commitment she showed while training was so very inspirational. She beamed with self-confidence and was so strong. She looked good, inside and out. Truly, running had helped her connect with and care for her well being. I was—and still am—so very proud of her. I saw her taking care of herself and realized that I, too, deserve such good care.


A few months ago I finally had enough. Enough with the gaining weight. Enough with feeling uncomfortable in my own body. Enough with treating myself like I wasn’t worth taking care of.

I started running. It was very slow going, at first. (At first! Ha! It is still slow going.) Inspired and guided by many female bloggers, including Jonniker, Swistle, Tessie, and Erin (and others – sorry if I forgot to link to you!), I started my own modified Couch-to-5K program. It took me a month to build up to the actual starting point of the program, I was (am) so out of shape.

Finally, I go to the point where I could run a mile (while intermittently walking, of course)! I was so proud! I felt so much better. Just that little amount of exercise improved my spirits and made my body feel stronger, more able. Even if my progress was humble, it was thrilling nonetheless.

Then I was hit with shin splints, and all progress has been derailed.

I was really proud of myself, though. Instead of freaking out, or getting all melodramatic and shit and proclaiming I would never be able to run, I purposefully decided to just start over. Just let go and start over. Start running one lap, walking one lap, for ten minutes for one week. And increase from there.

It would be okay. It was all so very Zen-like.

Rarely do I exercise such presence of mind.

Since then, my knees keep hinting that they are going to organize and stage a noisy, rowdy protest without a permit if I don’t stop forcing them to work. I completely rolled both ankles while vacuuming (one narrow hallway, one pair of Dansko clogs, one very tangled cord, and one ridiculously terrified, running Buster equaled disaster) and they are still achy and swollen at night, and now a muscle on the outside of my right calf is really, really sore for reasons I cannot explain. WTF?!?!

Needless to say, last night’s “run” did not go well. I didn’t even make it 10 minutes before my entire right leg burned from being tensed the entire run. (Stupid calf muscle.)

I am starting to feel melodramatic and think I may not ever be able to run.

Not only that, I am wondering what I can do to get fit, dammit. Two nights of 45 minutes of volleyball for two months a year is not going to cut it. I need to improve my fitness. I am not healthy right now and I need to commit to getting into and staying in shape. So much research simply confirms, no matter what way you slice it, that physical activity is the single best thing you can for your health. I need to quit sitting on my ass, people.

Swim? I can swim my little, liberal, bleeding heart out and not advance three inches in the water. No lie. This example is not being exaggerated due to my melodramatic state. Really. I swear. I hate the stupid cardio machines. I feel so … hamster-like.

I wonder if running on the treadmill (SCARY!) would be better than running on the track? The sloped corners always feel awkward and kind of hurt me.

I am starting to feel all tragic and defeated. Melodrama, don’t resist my warm, strong embrace.


  1. Maybe an elliptical would be good? It's much gentler on your joints.

    Also, I totally derailed from the C25K, and I didn't have shin splints as an excuse!

  2. Oh, this is so frustrating! Don't give up! I think a treadmill MIGHT be better. IMO, the indoor tracks are the worst, particularly if they are short (too much turning), or slope toward the wall (dangerous and uneven).

    Also, the 400M is the worst race in all of running. Ugg.

  3. What about an elliptical machine? That way, there's no impact on your knees or shin splints.

  4. I felt defeated by my work out regimen back in the fall. I too quit after completing the C25K because I just HATED it. Now, all I do is walk 3 miles a day, do free weights with my arms, and 150 crunches. That's it, that's all, there's no more that my body/mind can do right now and you know what, I'm happy with it. However, if I had a treadmill I would totally run. It's so much easier on a treadmill.

  5. i hate to run. HAAAAATE. and i get super bored on ellipticals and other gym machines. my suggestions: kickboxing and yoga. do you read sundry? she has a bunch of kickboxing-esque dvds she does at home and she loves them; i go to a class at my gym. TOTALLY WORKS YOU OUT SO HARD and without the repetitive stress on joints like you get from running.

    and then obvs i'm on this yoga kick right now - have hated it all my life, but i'm doing a yoga/pilates blend that is SO AWESOME. it doesn't get you sweaty like cardio (i sort of only feel like i'm "accompishing" something if i sweat) but within a week i could see a difference in my body due to yoga. right now i'm only doing that once a week @ my gym as well, but i'm in the market for a good dvd so i can do some at home, too.

  6. Hmmm...hiking/walking? Or is that too time-consuming? Also, climatic conditions must be reasonably favorable. But! Soft on joints, and if done outside, good for the spirit also.

    Also, I wonder if it's worth trying to see a good physical therapist, both for the knees and shin splints and also what they sometimes call "gait correction"--I had a terrific therapist once who would watch me walk down the sidewalk from the back and helped me address a problem a was having resulting from an injury. As a non-sporty runner with an injury, I never even thought of seeing a PT until I was so screwed up I could barely walk. Hence I sometimes go overboard in recommending seeing a PT (but, re:overboard, this lady is terrific, and lives in northern Colorado--if you're interested, I can give you her number--ok, I'm embarrassing myself)

  7. Alice - you've sold me on the benefits of yoga and pilates. I with you, though. If I don't sweat I don't believe anything is "happening."

    Melospiza - yes, please e-mail me with the contact info. That would be great. Thank you! I have a previous, heinous, injury to my left leg/ankle and it could only be beneficial to have a PT involved.

    sagebrushandserendipity at yahoo dot com.

  8. Oh, you love volleyball! Me too! Now I really can't wait to meet you!

    I once thought the elliptical was Satan's Joke, but I eventually grew to love it. Yoga is really great for stretching your muscles, so maybe that might help with the shin splints, especially if you're running indoors on a super-short track or on a really hard surface.

    I ran the 200m and 400m in track, and the 400 is brutal because it's just long enough that you can't all-out sprint it, but not long enough where you can settle into a nice pace.

    OH WAIT. I forgot that my coach made me run the 300m hurdles a few times (it sucked being the fastest person on a very small-town team; I got moved into whatever event they needed points the most).

    The 300m hurdles is THE WORST RACE EVER because by the time you reach that last hurdle, you have absolutely no strength left to run, let alone JUMP.

  9. I vote for walking. I meet a friend twice a week, and being outside in the fresh air is wonderful.

    Have you thought about water aerobics? It looks like it could be challenging and it's supposed to be good for you.

    And definitely see a physical therapist.

  10. I LOVE running. I was a cheerleader in high school and college and that was the extent of my sports participation. I got into running I guess because I wanted to work out after college and that seemed like the best way. I think a treadmill might be a safe bet. I was actually just reading that running on a track can injure your legs because you're constantly turning on the same leg putting more stress in one area. I say give running another shot on the treadmill and before you know it, you'll be up to an easy 3.1 miles!

  11. I've been trying to get back to running, on and off, but mostly off. And now with going to Malawi for the summer . . .

    What about biking? All the fresh-air benefits of running, but a lot easier on your shins, ankles, and knees.

    I also meant to mention in your previous post about your shins---and your comments about your knees reminded me---you might want to look at your shoes. If you haven't been fitted for running shoes, I can't recommend enough going to a running store and getting a good pair. The salesperson should measure your feet (length, width, and arch) and watch you walk barefoot. And then run a few laps around the store before buying.

  12. no no, don't quit yet! Running goes in cycles. For me it's like 3 weeks of steady improvement, and then 1-2 weeks of really sad, sad runs. It took me about a year to build up to a mile, and now I can run 3 without blinking (well, I blink, but only a LITTLE).

    Running is awesome and it'll kill the pounds better than anything else. Ease off for some weeks and start building again. It'll happen.

  13. oh, and don't run on a treadmill. I call them dreadmills. I don't see how anyone can keep up their motivation on those things. UGH.


Sorry for the word verification. Spambots have found this little blog!