musings on running, life, and everything in between

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It’s been a bit, right? There are some things going on in life that are taking a lot of energy out of me. It leaves little room or desire to write about running. Part of this might be combined with the fact that I turned my ankle two weekends ago on the trail.

I was about 4 miles into an 8-11 mile run with some friends at Bull Frog in Palos. Ironically, I had stopped to re-tie a shoe tighter because it felt like it wasn’t support enough. As I got up to start running, I hit a big rock in the path and turned my ankle. I wasn’t in horrible pain, but I felt a momentary flash of panic. Ok, maybe not momentary. Just panic. The worst part was that we were just before the turnaround point. And this is trail. Which means, short of getting back to a road and waiting for someone else to run back and get the car, I’d have to run back. It wasn’t great, but I found I could bear weight on it without screaming in pain. So I ran back 3 miles–Kelly was able to configure a slightly shorter route back. Gorgeous picture of the lake from the BEGINNING of the run. Sigh.

I saw Craig that day and had him work on it. He actually didn’t think it was too bad, and I babied the heck out of it, wrapping it tight and wearing an ankle brace. I think that all helped. I can run on it, but 50k on it is a different thing…The amount of mental self-abuse I’ve been doing is outrageous. I just checked the cutoff time, though, and I’ll have almost 10 hours to finish the 50k. Hopefully I won’t need all that.

It just continues to remind me, on multiple levels, that our weaknesses–physical and otherwise–need constant monitoring and intervention. I had stopped doing my one-legged squats while brushing teeth awhile back, filled with false confidence in my ankles. And this is what happened. It reminds me of the same character defects I have, my willfulness, anger, etc. also need to constantly be worked on as well. They never really go away, just wait for an opportune moment. Seems exhausting thinking about it. But that is how we become stronger.

And one thing I’ve learned over the years is when I get stuck in self-pity, get outside yourself and go do something for someone else. So I did. A slew of my girls were running the Wisconsin Marathon in Kenosha, including Jenny’s first comeback race after over a year of injury. It didn’t occur to me, until really late in the game, that it would be great to go cheer for them. I found out two other friends–Jen H and Doreen–who also came to Boston were heading up, so I hitched a ride.

Andrea, Emily, Michelle, Jenny, Michelle

I am SO glad I went. The course was windy as HECK. It ran alongside the lakefront, which sounds great, until the wind picks up sand and scours you with it. The temperature was perfect, and it was somewhat cloudy at moments, but the wind was probably upwards of 30mph at times. The course was also really desolate. There were almost no spectators, and even the most “crowded” sections had just over a dozen. And they were QUIET. There was almost no cheering. So this made the 3 of us cheer even louder and act even nuttier. Two women even came up to us after the race to thank us for cheering. It was also weird because there were parts of the course that weren’t really closed off so people were driving ON BOTH SIDES of the road. Someone even pulled a boat down the middle of the course. I think based on the crowd support (or lack thereof) and the weird course stuff, I would not run this marathon. Jenny did say, though, that it was well run and the aid stations were great.

The girls had a really hard time, but the Michelle’s stuck together for most of it. Although Michelle R (left) pulled a Jen and finished about 20 second ahead of Michelle N. Ha.


Despite all these brutal conditions, most of them finished ahead of my Boston time. Sigh. It was awesome, though, to go root for someone and not just be on the receiving end. I swear my “cheering high” carried me all day through rooting for my oldest’s tball game. Haha.

Andrea, Jenny, Emily


Alright, that’s all for now. I’m gearing up for the 50k. It feels really weird because I’ve essentially been in a 6 week taper now. I’ve been actually weightlifting to try and do some less impact stuff that should help me with the hills and such.

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Easing back 

Let’s start with some Monday morning cuteness. The littlest one and I had some special bonding time over hot dogs. And if you’re from Chicago, you know that it’s “criminal” to put ketchup on your dogs. Felony Franks is a local hot dog place that hires formerly incarcerated folks to help them get employment skills, work history, etc. It’s difficult getting employed often when you have a record. Some people find the “theme” of the place somewhat controversial, but it works for me. I don’t see a whole lot of other folks lining up to give jobs to this population so I’m all for it.

I feel like I should clarify a bit, that I don’t (according to my main men, Bill and Craig) have plantar fasciitis, but just an irritated, annoyed part of my plantars. I’m actually going to talk a bit more about my issues and running form next post, but I did want to throw that out there.

I did a bunch of shorter runs last week with little issue, so I decided to make the big plunge (with Craig’s blessing) to do the longer run. I was shooting for 8 at the minimum, 10-12 in my dream world. I ended up just shy of 10. My left ankle was starting to tighten up, so I decided to not press my luck.

We were going to run the Salt Creek Trail, but portions of the trail looked like this (thanks for the photo, Jen!). Big chunks of it were pretty clear, but we didn’t love the idea of doing a start-stop run for a couple of hours, AND it was slow going inching our way around/through the ice.

We ended up running through the neighborhoods around the trail. It wasn’t too bad. And even though some of us don’t even drink, I couldn’t resist making us take a photo with this sign outside a bar. I’m curious if it really IS a thing, or just a random sign.

It was a fun run, albeit a bit crazy trying to stitch together. Folks were running everywhere from 8-16 miles, so it got slapped together at 10 pm the night before, and some of us drove to a meeting point and others ran there. I gotta say, I was jealous getting back in my car and seeing the others run home. Sigh. Sooooooon…

Because I was having a little flare up of tightness in my ankles and my feet, I went crazy with my new rubber ball massager thing. Arguably, a little too crazy as I rubbed off one of the nubs. Oops. Ignore the gross fuzz and dust on the ball. I have small humans, they are messy.

The rest of the weekend was fun and included a trip to the Arboretum and a bowling outing (I WON! I know, I’m overly competitive and beating my husband and 6 y.o. aren’t exactly brag-worthy. Still.). I couldn’t resist this photo, which was slightly staged. The kids were not trying to hold hands. They were trying to touch my feet, which were splayed out in the middle of the aisle and just out of view of the photo. It was so adorable, though, that I took it anyway. Happy Monday!


Are you still a runner if you miss some runs…

Amy sent me this last week, and it’s about spot on.

After my last post, a friend of mine reached out to say that the post really resonated with her own personal experiences. She was a serious runner and good at pushing through, then she went through a series of injuries, one after the other. That, ultimately, is what drove her into personal training. Trying to figure out what was wrong and causing her body to fall apart when she’d not had issues before. THAT scared me. She doesn’t really run long distances (aka marathons) anymore, because her body can’t take it. She wrote to convince me to make sure I was really addressing my issues and not pushing through. So despite vacillating a million times about running the race Saturday or not running the race, I stuck with the decision to not run the race. Or run at all. Another long run missed. ARGH.

Buuuuuuut, I also decided to still go to the gym and do almost 2 hours of cardio. It was ugly, but I got to catch up on a new (to me) podcast (Ten Junk Miles) by some folks in the ultrarunning Facebook group I’m in. I found them both annoying and humorous. Scott Kummer, one of the podcasters and big ultrarunner, is doing the Arrowhead 135. In case you want to get a taste of what insanity looks like, here it is:

A couple of my friends and I are planning to do a mini-movie viewing party soon. Cuz nothing makes more sense from the perspective of an injured runner than watching movies about running…

Oooh, and then there’s this new film coming out about Jesse Owens!

Anyhow, in case you didn’t know, heading to the gym in the dark on a Saturday morning is not the same thing as meeting your friends for a long run.

45 minutes of cycling and my sitz bones were annoyed with me. More various elliptical machines and some stair climbing. Boo. I wore my compression like a big dork to get some more support around my legs. Not sure if it mattered.

I also made noise about going to the pool last post, so I did that this weekend. I forced my friend Stephanie to meet me at the pool and swim for 30 minutes. I use the term swim loosely, and the 30 minutes felt grindingly slow and painful. I forced myself to go the full 30. I also stopped every lap to gasp for breath. EVERY. SINGLE. LAP. Stephanie even said to me, “I mean, I’ve SEEN you run marathons and you’re struggling. This is hard!” What is it about the breathing in a pool that’s so hard for me? I just can’t figure it out. I know how to breathe, even alternating sides, but I always feel like I’m going to simultaneously pee my pants and suffocate at the same time. Anyone?

I also had a flashback to my one attempt at triathlon training and realized that’s where my form obsessions began. Because swimming is so unnatural to me, I was fixated on form. I didn’t know what to do with my arms or my hands or my legs in minutiae, so I asked my instructor lots of questions, read stuff online (this was before videos were so prevalent and pre-YouTube), and fixated on how to make myself better (i.e., feel less like I’m dying). I think I got a little bit better, but I’m starting over at square one…

I feel like this picture shows how delirious and oxygen-deprived the swim made me. It also didn’t help that I was using my 6 y.o.’s swim goggles and didn’t have a swim cap. And my swimsuit was 12 years old, but whatevs, right? I like to keep it real on this blog. That is what I look like after a horrible swim. The swim did make me more aware of my left (the non plantar-irritate one) ankle’s tightness, though. Grr.

Finally, I’m working on rounding out my various workout possibilities. A post from a reader/commenter (Danielle of Naturally Sweet Athlete) brought me to her blog post about different ways to stay active during winter months. Coincidentally, she’s also injured. She posted about a few free apps with workouts, so check it out. I’m a sucker for anything tech-y that might motivate me to do something other than run. Or “crosstrain” as people keep calling it.

Anyhow, I have some updates on the whole ankle/running/thing, but I’ll save that for next post.


Where My Body Falls Apart and I Grow Up

I woke up yesterday with a swollen LEFT ankle and stiffness–almost like it was a few days into recovering from a sprain. This is NOT the ankle/foot/leg I’ve been having issues with. What gives?! After running 8 marathons under 2 years with no injury? This reminds me of a theory that Mr. UnRunner (he’s back to not running, ha) has about massage. He refuses to get one because he believes that the tension is what keeps him together. Knock out one knot or muscle contraction and the whole thing tumbles like a Jenga puzzle. Perhaps all this enforced time off has forced my body to realize it’s time to collapse…

Let me back up, though. I saw Magical Craig twice this week. And he highly suggested I NOT race this weekend the F3 Half Marathon I’d signed up for months ago. He knows I’m prone to not listening to him when it comes to things like backing off on running, but I’m going to be a grown up and DO THE RIGHT THING. Which means, NOT run it–just in case you weren’t sure. Here’s why. Craig suggested I skip the cardio stuff this week, or the cardio stuff that would have impact. I tried a barre class on Wednesday thinking it was going to be low-impact. Wrong. It was an odd cardio version and there was a lot of jumping. My foot started bothering me during the class (more on the class in a bit). If just jumping jacks and dynamic lunges were bothering it, hauling out a half marathon would not be great. Craig did say I could finally try running on it Saturday to test it out, but I had to stop if it hurt. An out and back loop in a race doesn’t really fit well for that. I think I’d rather have a DNS (did not start) than a DNF (did not finish)…at least if it’s for an injury. I also know that I probably won’t accept the idea of not finishing and further set myself back. If I really want all this time off to count for something, I need to make sure I’m not continuing to draw out the injury. Growing up sucks. I’ve already scaled back for two weeks, I can’t take it much longer.

So, what does “recovery” look like when you can’t do cardio with impact or that involves alot of ankle (he also banned the ellipticals this week)? Well, you can swim (barf, but also more on that in a bit) maybe, or I forced Craig to let me at least cycle. Seriously, what else is there?? Here’s what the week looked like.

Monday: Botched 2. 5 miles

Tuesday: Yoga

Wednesday: Cardio barre class

Thursday: 50 minutes of cycling

Friday: Nothing right now…maybe some yoga or strength training.

It hurts me to look at that. I swear I’ve gained weight in the last two weeks. Depressing. I know it’s better to work all this out now, then, rather than potentially not running or finishing Boston. Still.

Here’s the scoop on some things I’ve been trying in the meanwhile.

1) I really like yoga, and doing a partial supported headstand against the wall is safer. I go to the studio when I can, but I also like to do some different yoga apps and YouTube videos.

2) After my second attempt at barre, I’m pretty sure I don’t like it. This class reminded me of a mom’s 80’s aerobics class. Except my mom didn’t do aerobics. So maybe YOUR mom’s aerobics class. I totally spaced and thought the class was almost over when I saw it was 9:55. When it was 10:04 and didn’t seem to be ending, I realized that we were only halfway through (the class started at 9:30). I almost wept in disappointment. You see, the reason I run is because I AM NOT COORDINATED. Following a variety of dynamic movements with garbled-sounding microphone directions, especially when I’m afraid of jumping on my right foot, was a nightmare. I still have one class left on my 3-class Groupon, though…so I’ll be back to torture myself (I’m also cheap about getting my money’s worth).

3) I really hate cycling inside. It feels indeterminately long. Give me a bike ride outside any day. Oh wait, I left the garage door open months ago and someone stole my bike. Sigh.

4) I need to learn how to cross train differently. i.e., swimming. Swimming is like the arch-nemesis of my athletic-ness. Well, after aerobics. So maybe it’s just a nemesis… Anyhow, I had a scary drowning-ish moment in a pool when I was a kid (think of getting fished out by the lifeguard but no resuscitation but lots of spitting out of water and maybe some vomit) so I tend to get panicky if I feel like I am getting too much water in my nose, or I don’t have control. To try and get over that years ago, I took private swim lessons and signed up for a super-sprint triathlon. I knew how to swim, but I wanted to learn how to feel comfortable in the water and work on my stroke, etc. The swimming portion of the triathlon got canceled because of too much bacteria in the water (I know, gross) so I never got to have my moment of triumph. And I’m still uncomfortable in deep water. So I’m considering signing up for a triathlon again to force myself to cross-train in the pool more. “Just” swimming for exercise sounds awful. I need something to hold me accountable and motivate me. Oh, and I’ll still need to buy a bike. And because I am friends with crazy people, someone’s already trying to egg me on to do a half iron distance triathlon in the fall. CRAZY.

It’s Friday. I’ll try and do a run tomorrow. And take stock from there. It’s hard recognizing that you have limits, and you need to take time to recover. I know I write about that alot, but it’s still hard to swallow. I need to listen to my body and take the time to do things right. Good luck to anyone racing this weekend and high fives to all those doing rehab/recovery work–in any sense.


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Why I won’t be trail running for a little while

I got the question, “Do you want to run Boston or do you want to run trails?”


I have now had my two main men (other my family, duh)–my magical myofascial trigger point massage guy, Craig, and my awesome running coach/massage guy, Bill–tell me that trail running was my downfall and I need to quit that sh*t out. For now anyway. Um, let’s not talk about the fact that I signed up for a 50k TRAIL ultramarathon one month after Boston, mmkay? I just need to focus on Boston right now. At least with ultras, you can run slower than molasses and no one will disrespect you (meaning, worst case scenario, I’ll just turtle it along). At Boston, however, my friend who ran it years ago told me that people seem to not cheer as loudly for you at the back of the pack. They assume you are a charity runner and didn’t really earn your way in. She had gotten pregnant after she qualified (and this was the good ol’ days where you could postpone your race entry a year) so she was running several months post-partum the following year.

Let me back up, though.

As you may recall, I took last week off to let my plantars be less angry. I ran 5 slow and easy on Jenny’s treadmill while watching a gnarly bear attack movie (Backcountry). It felt ok during and after. Although, I will admit that it felt like I had taken longer than a 5 day break. This led me to believe that I could try my long run, or at least attempt 9-10 of the 14-15 planned. I made plans to run Waterfall Glen with a friend, but she messaged me late Friday night saying she was coming down with whatever her kid had earlier in the week.

Admittedly, while I was disheartened to think of running a couple hours alone, I ultimately was glad to run alone. I got to stop and stretch and curse myself without anyone witnessing. Ironically, I did see a fellow BFF’er running by at one point. My calves both felt super tight, but my heel didn’t hurt during the run. I eked out a painfully slow and never-ending 10 miles. The thought of running anything more than that made me want to tear my hair out AND I was on a tight schedule.

I thought I had “gotten away” with my long run, but my heel and calves got steadily tighter during the day. I stretched and rolled and prodded, but I still had some twinge-ing Sunday morning. I opted for an hour of yoga at home, wherein I almost broke myself further in attempting a supported headstand in the middle of my bedroom. I discovered that I could get up but toppled over immediately, and belatedly realize I should probably have done it against a wall as I twisted to avoid landing on various furniture in my bedroom. Yeah, I’m definitely not the most astute person at times. The rest of the day was spent rolling, poking, and pinching my calves every opportunity I got. I began to wonder if my soreness was actually from my run or my obsessive jabbing.

Monday morning still tight. Since it was below freezing BEFORE windchill, I decided to forego the pain of running outside and ran again on Jenny’s treadmill. This time opting for Walking Dead, which about described the way I felt after running 2.5 miles. I had to stop because the pain was bad enough that I knew I was doing more damage than good. Thankfully, I had had enough sense to decide to call Craig and set up an appointment for later that day.

I saw Craig and the doctor he works with in the office. It was my first time meeting her and she was great. She assessed me and remarked that my “weak ankles” were not that, but my tendency to collapse my ankles in. She called it something, but I didn’t catch it. Essentially, it’s overpronation, your feet and ankle rolling excessively in. While some pronation is good and normal, too much causes your calves and lower muscles to work too hard and get irritated. Sound familiar? She had me stand up straight and pointed to my ankles sticking out further (ankle and leg should be in a straight line), as well as my calluses (on the outer part of the balls of my feet) and my baby bunion. The trail running probably exacerbated the issue exponentially. So I have orthotics to immediately correct the issue.

I do not like orthotics. In fact, since reading Born to Run, I’ve worked really hard to get away from the stability shoes I’ve worn and move towards more neutral, and partially minimal shoes. With great success I thought. But perhaps it was just luck. I was remarking to Craig earlier that it was hubris, noting how so many runners I knew dealt with plantar fasciitis and thinking how great it was that I was so amazing to not get it. HUBRIS. Anyhow, I got the orthotics to wear for now. I have already started Googling away exercises to fix the issue in the long view. I don’t want to rely on orthotics to compensate for an issue I’d prefer to correct. I get that my current foot/ankle/leg stuff is creating this issue, but I also feel that unless it’s something structural I can correct it…There is a good information page on the BOSU website with exercises. I have to confess, though, that the mere fact that they used the WRONG FORM OF BREAKING–your big toe breaking is very different than it BRAKING–is physically keeping me from linking the page for you. I have standards you know.

Craig went through his usual repertoire of torture techniques. One major difference between him and Bill is that Craig uses a full gauntlet of tools to make you acquiesce. He will be using his crazy sound machine on me probably Wednesday, but today I only got the manual knobs and jabbers. In all seriousness, Craig doesn’t want me writhing in pain. Just a little uncomfortable. I’m the one that tries to gut it out. Cuz I’m sick and I think that more pain equals more bang for my buck. Sick.

One big thing I learned today was about how to use self-massage. I have vague ideas and many tools for doing home treatment. What I DIDN’T know, though, was when to use just pressure and when to roll. I should use both, but I use prolonged (at least 30 seconds) pressure first on a spot that seems too painful to roll. I need to actually get the muscle to release a little bit to maximize the benefits of rolling. So my random, haphazard jabbing and rolling this weekend wasn’t as effective because I wasn’t giving my muscles a real chance to release. Oh, another tidbit I learned. When your muscles get all tight and irritated, he called it “armoring.” I kind of liked the visual of my muscles getting all suited up. Haha. Oh wait, that’s a bad thing.

Long story short, I’m out of any cardio exercising until Wednesday, when I’ll see Craig again. Patty pointed out to me that I could still do core work to do SOMETHING. She’s so wise. I have a half marathon race this Saturday. Not sure what’s in the cards for that. I wasn’t really concerned about racing it per se, but it would help my mental state to be able to do a long run. Feel free to chime in with thoughts, resources, corrections (ahem, Craig), etc. And wish me luck…


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Pool running and proof that Jen still runs with me

I’ve had ALOT of friends deal with injuries the last year or so. I honestly think that my semi-regular massage work and my fixation with foam rolling can take a good deal of credit for me being relatively injury-free. That is not to say, though, that I’m not constantly aware of every extra bit of tightness or creakiness. I really like all the “prehab vs. rehab” stuff I’ve been seeing lately. That’s why I found this post about pool running so fascinating. It actually starts with a story about two ultra runners that do a fair bit of pool running as part of their cross-training. Pool running is usually relegated to the domain of those who CAN’T run and are already injured. These folks use it regularly as part of their running/training regimen. I was fascinated. I like the article alot because it provides a variety of ways you can tackle pool running from my version–running back and forth in chest-high water while pushing/pulling my kids (i.e., sneaking in a workout without them knowing) to the more familiar weighted vest/best deeper water to ankle-deep water running. Either way, if you’re in the pool a good amount this summer, there’s some things to try out!

This morning was a 10 mile run with 5×1000’s at 5k pace with recovery in between. Yup, Fun times. In 80-degree weather with alot of humidity. Thankfully Jen had 5×1200’s on her plan with a 2 mile warm up and 1 mile cooldown, so we did most of my 10 miles together. For those uninitiated into the joys of track workouts, most standard tracks are 400 meters and 4 laps are a mile. Usually with intervals, a good recovery is half the distance or half the time of the interval (depending on your goals, etc.). Today’s recovery time for me was supposed to be 50-90% of my interval time. Here’s the splits. My goal 5k time (according to this convertor for my marathon goal time) is 22:22, which translates into a 7:12 time. Based on my over-involved calculations, I think that means I needed to hit a 4:30 for 1000m.

Lap 1   4:29

Lap 2   4:37

Lap 3   4:41

Lap 4   4:41

Lap 5   4:41

Sadly, you can see that I only hit it for the first lap. To my credit, I had a different time in mind based on a different calculator I was looking at before I left the house (ahem, at 5:45 this morning, sigh). But I realized prepping for this post, that I was looking at the wrong thing. I think I could have pushed it a little harder for at least a few more laps if not all of them. I really dislike intervals, but nothing works up a sweat like some nasty fast runs on the track. I’m not a naturally fast (nor inclined towards fast) runner, and I often find them somewhat demoralizing. In some ways, that’s why I like speed/interval workouts based on feel rather than specific times. On Bill’s marathon plan two years ago, his speed workouts were based on just going as hard as you (un)comfortably can. I might go with a combination of time and feel this time around.

Anyhow, here’s a lovely shot of the sun rising behind Jen on the track.

On a side note, we talked about how her form is pretty good. She has a good natural lean forward (something she didn’t know was actually good) and good stride. One thing I’ve noticed is that she tends to shrug her shoulders up a bit, which gives her a cute “little engine that could” look, haha. It doesn’t seem to impact her too much, though. You lose a little bit of energy, but there are worse things (like my swinging arms across my body, ha). 

Anyhow, I forced her to take a selfie with me, so we took turns looking goofy.

It’s going to be a hot one today, so stay cool!

What kind of speed training do you do? How do you mentally work through hitting splits (or not)?

P.S. My husband has been mentioning that he sees a fair amount of “grammer” (sic) mistakes in my writing in these posts. I will need to proof them better! I follow some blogs of former teachers-turned bloggers and when I see typos/grammar stuff/etc it drives me nuts. Feel free to point them out!

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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.

2015-03-24 10.16.32

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!).

2015-03-26 08.33.51

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.