musings on running, life, and everything in between

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When you fall out of love

With running


The usual

It’s been a long hiatus. And to be honest, I’m not sure how often I’ll keep this updated either. It’s tenuous lately. My resurgence of interest in running and such. And the school year is starting, which for some parents is glorious, but for me means the startup of my regular work calendar again. So…here’s a stab.

The last couple of months have been rough. I’ve been pretty straightforward about my ongoing struggle with depression, but it reached a pretty bad low point a few months ago. I think what further compounded it was the fact that I felt like I was doing every possible thing I could to deal with it, but it wasn’t enough. It feels unfair that I have to be doing so much more to stay afloat or feel “normal” (whatever that is) than the average person. Is it a chemical imbalance, family trauma, psychic wounds, blah blah blah? I don’t know. But I cringe every time someone asks me if I exercise or sleep enough or whatever, because I want to scream, “All of it, I do all of it!”

And actually, the last couple of months, even the running has fallen by the wayside. Yes, I’ve been trying to get myself to grind out at least a run or two a week. I had been hating even that minimal amount, though, and was mostly doing it to stave off the creeping weight. I eat ALOT, and mostly run to eat. When you’re not marathon training, it begins to catch up with you. And while it really is probably just 3-5 pounds, it was enough to make me feel worse physically and emotionally. And I realize that nothing was giving me pleasure. I wasn’t interested in anything. Maybe sleep. More B horror movies. Escape. Not life, not my kids, not my writing. Definitely not my running. Nothing that required me to engage.

So I’m trying some new meds and starting to feel better. I’ve even begun ramping back up my running. I’m actually watching the Olympics track and field events. Hitting double digit long runs. Thinking about races. But it’s still a struggle. The new meds make me tired, so early runs have been difficult. I’ve had to play around with dosage and timing to figure out what doesn’t make me feel like I need a 3 hour nap at 10:30 am or that I’m treading mud at 3 pm. Which means running alone and in the awful heat and humidity. I’ll say that running while playing Pokemon Go has helped motivate and distract me (and give me excuses for stopping).

I’m not 100% sure if I’ll stick with these meds or need to get back on that merry-go-round, but for the first time, I’m being pretty open about my struggles with folks. Even the fact that I know a couple of my students read this blog, and I’m talking about this is something. My less-than-perfect behavior has probably been most indicative of my struggles. I’ve had alot of impatience, crankiness, and general snarl near and far. My ability to have any emotional reserve in response to life has been about nil. I’m sane and grounded enough to know (mostly) when I need to make amends for that behavior, but it’s still not fun. It would be better if I just didn’t do it to begin with. And I’m still leaning towards isolation. My general belief of, “If I don’t interact with people, then I won’t have to act out and apologize later” isn’t really a great one.

On the road back from this cycle of depression, I’d realized that I had slowly been socially isolating myself. Other than kid-oriented activities or running with friends, I was engaging in almost no social activities. A friend took me out for dinner in the city, and I realized it had been literal years since I had done that. Years. How did that happen?

So I’m not saying I’m cured, but I felt the impulse to write today. So that’s something. But one could say it’s something for any of us to show up in life today and engage. To do what you can. To try your best. Even watching the Olympics, I thought about all the athletes at the back of the pack. The ones with no chance to win a medal. How do they motivate themselves? How do they push to keep going? How do any of us? But we do. Onwards and upwards friends.

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Spending time on self care

Women can be bad at self care (yes, I know it’s an overgeneralization). Moms are even worse. Running moms the worst. One way I know this is even the targeted health advertisements I see for women to get mammograms or other screenings, and the advertisement is spun as a “You take care of everyone else, but you also need to take care of yourself in order to do that.” As a mom, you put your own needs and sometimes health behind others (ask any mom what happens when they are “sick”). As runners, we’re even more prone to ignore aches and pains until it’s too late. I get the extra awesomeness of being Korean and having grown up with self-employed parents–read: having minimal insurance/access to doctors–so I don’t go to the doctor when I’m sick or for much in general. Just to give you an idea, my dad slipped/fractured a disk in his neck and ended up having major surgery, wearing a halo brace, and being out of work for a year. And he didn’t go to the hospital, in fact SLEPT on the injury, until the next day.

So yeah, learning to ignore pain and what my body wants or needs runs pretty deep. Recently, Craig (my myofascial guy) gave me a long lecture about how I really needed to work on self care to keep myself injury-free. I couldn’t just ignore stretching, etc. And he may have muttered a thing or two about aging…

And the fact of the matter is that I’m not 25 and gutting out my first marathon through excruciating pain and thinking it’ll all go back the way it’s supposed to in the morning…or in 3-4 months since I refused to run for awhile after that first marathon.

Whereas before, I used to not understand what people meant by this “warming up” before running they would do, and I had no idea what a foam roller was until my second marathon. Oh, and I started training for my first marathon in cotton. A lot has changed. I still don’t warm up, but I do sometimes stick my legs (meaning I use “the stick” or “tiger tail” to massage my legs a bit) and do some dynamic pre-emptive stretching before a run. I wear compression religiously to ward off “something” much like garlic for vampires. I spend more intimate time with my foam roller than I do with my husband. And I’ve always been good at stretching afterwards, but it was only for at most 5 minutes. Craig was talking about spending some serious time getting into the tightness, maybe backing off the mileage, and doing more yoga and other activities.

The brat in me wants to stomp my foot and go, “REALLY?! You want me to do MORE STUFF to be able to keep doing the stuff I’ve always been doing?” Um, yes. As much as I hate to admit it, my body has changed. And my threshold for discomfort has lowered. Don’t get me wrong, I can take pain like no one’s business (hello, two natural child births), but I’ve begun to realize more and more that I don’t HAVE to. And maybe I SHOULDN’T (yes, this post is all about caps). Maybe that’s wisdom. Or just being an adult.  

14 miles in 2 degrees. i can take pain.

I see this in other areas of my life. The other night, I crashed hard at 7:30. After a brutally cold 14 miles starting at 6:15 am, my body was done for the day early. I demanded a lot from it, and it wanted a lot in return. I actually debated forcing myself to stay up. Watch bad shows. Read. Putz on the interwebs. As if some “cool patrol” was watching me and assessing my dork factor for going to bed on a Saturday night so early. But no one was watching. I was the only one who had to face the consequences of my actions. So I went to bed. I slept a solid 11 hours.

I have begun to realize more and more that if I don’t take care of myself, I will be one miserable runner, mom, wife, and educator. And I will make the lives of those around me miserable. And that doesn’t have to happen.

So I go to bed early. I call people when I’m struggling with my depression. I go to yoga. And… I drop down running plans. Boom.

Yup, I decided to move from the 5 day/week running plan to the 4 day/week. My body isn’t happy with what I’m doing or have been doing. Something needs to change. And for some insane reason, it freaks me out to admit it to myself and change the plan, and admit it to others. Even though no one is judging me for it, and most of my running friends would encourage me to be healthy and do what my body needs. But there’s a sick little devil on my shoulder that tells me that I’m not a REAL runner if I’m not cranking out 50+ miles a week. If I’m not running 5-6 days a week. If I’m not running a sub 8:00/mile on the daily. If I don’t make the top X percent. So you push and “dig deep” until your well is empty and you are spiritually or physically broken.

No thanks.

I’ve been there and done that. And I don’t need to go back.

But that’s taken me a long long time to learn. And it’s definitely progress, not perfection. It’s the long view. Boston was once a bucket list for me. And now that it’s on the horizon, I want to make sure that I can actually run it. I don’t know if I’ll run it more than once, so I want to make sure all my crazy work the last two years actually means something. I take it back, it DOES mean something whether I get to run Boston or not (as of right now, btw, there’s nothing to stop me but myself). That I can work hard, attain my goals, and bust my guts doing it. And regardless of what happens at Boston, I’ll know I did good and I’ll be with friends. *cue soaring, inspirational music* But that only happens if I’m healthy and strong enough to get to the starting line. And that only happens if I listen to my body and take care of myself.

Even the elite runners do this. Deanna Kastor pulled out of the Olympic Trials pretty last minute, and Kara Goucher said she “left it all out there,” but it wasn’t enough to make the Olympic Team (although since she was 4th, she’ll be the official alternate). Even Desi Linden, who pulled an amazing second half of the marathon, said she had to trust her plan and not punch it in the first half to keep up with Amy Cragg and Shalane Flanagan (and that plan is what got her to pass Shalane just within the last mile or so and nab second). Amazing. So even the elites have to listen to what their bodies and spirits need.

Sorry if this post was all over the place, but I’ve been thinking a lot about trying to figure out what I need and how to keep myself healthy on lots of fronts. I didn’t have a great foundation for those things growing up, so it’s new terrain. Anyhow, hope you all had a great run this weekend, whatever your plan was.


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Another day, another mile

It is officially late spring/summer around here, which means it’s raining or extremely humid. Bleh. Either way, it saps the energy right out of you! Today’s early morning run was originally started as a 6 miler, which got cut to 5.5 and then walking the last half. I did a 4.5 mile run last night (in training for Ragnar), that I was hoping to hit 5. It was so dark last night and my Garmin doesn’t have a nightlight that I couldn’t see the mileage until I got home. I was at 4.46 and almost cried, forced myself to the end of the block (because God forbid I run a “weird” number) to get to 4.5 and called it a day. Jen K and I discussed how it better not be humid for Ragnar cuz our “speedy” times aren’t going to be so speedy.

Speaking of Ragnar and people who are going to be awesome, I got to run with this lady and her entourage last week. Kelly is not even 3 months post-partum and she is AMAZING. I went out to meet her thinking, “Oh, this will be a nice easy run with the post-partum lady and her baby AND her dog.” NOPE. We were pushing sub 9’s almost the whole way. I wanted to ask her to slow down, but I was embarrassed, cuz you know, I just ran a marathon, and she’s pushing a stroller, and holding on to a dog, and I’m running carefree. Boohoo. Her daughter is cute as a button, though, and totally just slept the whole time. I need to meet up with Kelly another day when she’s awake so I can get my baby fix. Get this, though, sometimes she runs with the DOUBLE stroller and the dog. And here I am complaining about running by myself in the humidity.

BTW, that ended up being a ridiculous 9 mile run because my GPS crapped out on me and I wasn’t sure what time I started running. I was super-tired by the end. I swear, running without a plan makes me crazy. I ended up running a 40+ mileage week last week because I had no plan. As much of a creature of chaos I am, that is exactly why I need a plan. Left to my own devices, I will run entirely too much or not at all. I still need to sit down and decide what I’m using to train for the fall. I think I’m going to do a mashup of my two coached plans and one of Pfitzinger’s Advanced Marathoning plans. I’ll keep you posted, or feel free to chime in with plans you like!

Here’s the splits from Saturday’s long run. You gotta say, we’re consistent if nothing else! And I was happy to see that we picked it up for the last couple miles.


Finally, we’ve been trying to get out and enjoy the weather more since it’s getting warmer. We went to the zoo where Iseul got to try some new forms of transportation. We also finally have an almost fully-functioning (we still need grass over the dirt) backyard so we’ve been eating outside alot. We had an awesome paver patio put in and had our rotted, collapsing back stairs rebuilt. We also called 1800-GOT-JUNK to haul away several large piles of lumber, junk, and landscaping stuff this past weekend. It was awesome.

10359232_10153108201497949_394853080393721021_nAnyhow, it’s already almost halfway through the week! Hooray! Hope you had a great weekend. Happy running!

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The myth of the modern woman and playing hooky from training

I have a confession to make. I didn’t run yesterday. Even though there was 8 miles on the schedule. I played hooky. Now, for many of you, this might not seem like a big deal. But I follow my training plan pretty closely. I might shift some days around and such, but I never skip a run. It messes with my head too much. Part of the downsides of the distance runner mentality is often thinking that doing more, pushing through, working harder is better. But it really isn’t always.

My day Tuesday started at 5 in the morning and didn’t end until I got home after 10 pm from teaching. This day included some lovely lovely speed work on the treadmill. Boo. But I did get a chance to start catching up on Season 2 of Orphan Black. Woohoo.

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Ignore the crack in my iPad. HA

After teaching, I’m always a bit wound up so I can’t just crash after I get home. So not going to sleep until 11 pm and then trying to drag myself up at 5 am yesterday to run 8 miles the next day seemed horrible. I knew I wasn’t going to have time to run until after teaching again last night, but I blew off Jen and the early morning run. I deluded myself into thinking that maybe I could squeeze in a little extra sleep and that maybe I would run after a very long day (that’s alot of maybe’s). I was obviously delusional. There were multiple attempts by some small humans to squeeze into bed, yells for food, and demands for attention, so while I got to stay in bed longer, it was far from any sort of restful sleep. Last night, I did get home earlier from teaching than the previous night, but I was still tired and my legs were tight. So I gave myself the day off. The horror!

Jen gave me her blessing, though. We’ve been talking about how tired we are right now at the peak of training. It’s alot to juggle–working, family, and marathon training (stupid families and jobs getting in the way of our running!).

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We’re a bit obsessed with emoji’s. And yes, her profile photo is of her as Anna from Frozen.

And the myth of the modern woman is that we can do it all. (and I get it, I nursed my first kid through my dissertation defense). But we can’t, not unless we want to be institutionalized for a nervous breakdown, substance abuse, or for going on a rampage. We don’t like to talk about it, because that would mean we couldn’t handle it all. So we push harder, longer, get less sleep, reach out less, grind through the pain.

And like I said, the mixed blessing of the distance runner is the amplified tendency to do this on an exponential level. I mean, running for hours doesn’t sound appealing to most people and it definitely hurts. However, we are good at ignoring the pain to reach our goals, and it often works for us. Except when it doesn’t. At some point, after enough injuries, enough crash and burns, enough midnight binges of cookies and coffee (oh wait, is that just me?) we have to recognize what our breaking points are. When it’s time to listen to our bodies and forgive ourselves for being human. For being made of skin and blood and not diamonds and steel.


My friend Kat is wrestling with some serious IT band pain a month out from her first marathon, and she really wants to push through it. I get it. I ran my first marathon through IT band stuff, against the advice of my PT. I looked ridiculous as I cobbled together a gait that reduced the pain incrementally (imagine a running version of the gif below) and it took me hours upon hours to finish.


I’m lucky I didn’t permanently hurt myself, and I didn’t run for 4 months after. 11 years out, I am beginning to realize that there’s a long-view. I want to keep running into old age–heck, I want to run through the rest of the year. If we push ourselves now and don’t listen to what our bodies are telling us–to back off a bit–they might rise up and go completely on strike. So taking one 8-mile run out of the hundreds this training plan entails, won’t hurt me. If anything, I could probably use the extra sleep, stretching, and rest day.

Listen to your bodies. Be kind to yourselves. The world is hard enough as it is without us beating ourselves up further.