I’m a non-running person who runs.. or at least I used to be. I think I’m officially coming to terms with my identity as a runner. I’ve been many things in my life: daughter, sister, friend, girlfriend, student, student-athlete, dancer, gymnast, mathlete (it’s ok if you’re jealous), grad student, tea enthusiast, hiker, caver, writer, etc. Among those I’ve always been a non-runner. I joined the track team freshman year in high school because I wanted to do triple jump. I was disappointed they expected me to run too. I was an awful sprinter. I would try as hard as I could but couldn’t seem to increase my turnover rate. I was also pretty awful at triple jump. Never a runner.
In 2008 when I started running I was so inconsistent and got injured so quickly that I figured it’s just too hard to run and not get injured. How is that even worth it? Other people seemed to bounce back from their injuries quickly. It took me months before I felt like I could probably run again and by then it just wasn’t worth it. I was overweight and I decided to wait until I lost all that weight.
I’m so glad I started running again. I still have the weight (though ~10 lbs less of it) and guess what? I’m injured again.
I feel like I’m nearly a runner though. I used to feel like you had to run a certain pace to be a runner (surely something in the 8:00-9:00 range). I also felt you had to race to be a runner. I was envious of people who could sign up for a race less than a month in advance and place effortlessly. I can’t run 8:00-9:00 paces. I can’t sign up for a half two weeks in advance. The only shot I ever have at placing is in an inaugural small town race where the director accidentally uses the 5-year age groups when it should be 10.
What turned this around?
I’ve been running consistently for nearly a year now. I’m training for a half and ramping up mileage quickly. I got past the general aches & pains of getting used to running and have graduated to a more serious consistent use injury. The three-shelf unit once dedicated to my handbag collection has been replaced with my workout clothes & accessories. More importantly, I haven’t skipped a single run since January 8th and have only run on the treadmill once. That means I’ve been outside in some brutal weather. I’ve run in an active snowstorm (snowed ~4″ during my run) and bitter bitter cold. In the summer I ran in 103 heat index. Last month I ran in -2 wind chill. That range impresses me. It’s one thing for humans to survive in those contrasting conditions (which isn’t much a feat now with temperature controlled environments – how much time do most people spend outside if the weather isn’t perfect?); it’s another thing to thrive and run miles and miles and miles in it.
Onto the injury.
Two Saturdays ago the half training group did 8 miles for the first time on a different hillier route. I felt good until around the last mile when tension building up in my right knee came to a head and I had to limp to finish. I stretched it out and figured it would be fine next run. It wasn’t fine next run (Tues). At ~1.5 miles in it started aching and tightening again. I ran as much of the 6 miles on the schedule as I could, taking frequent walking breaks. I hurt. The next morning I visited an athletic trainer who tested my leg strength and range of motion. Nothing in particular hurt and he declared it chondromalacia patellae. He told me to ice, ibuprofen, and do some exercises. He said I could run as long as the pain didn’t alter my gait. Yay!
Later that day I talked to a running coworker who told me he uses this instead of ibuprofen:
It’s basically turmeric in pill form. I love the idea of taking this instead of 2 ibuprofens 3x a day for 4 days! You know what else? I took two a day for a couple days and it works! I love curries so I love the idea of using turmeric to manage my knee pain.
He also recommended trying this:
It’s delicious! It’s for joints and it tastes like cherry pie filling! I guess you’re supposed to dilute it back to its original concentration, but I’ve enjoyed in concentrated so far. It’s equal parts obnoxiously sweet and tart.
On Saturday I went to the training group run to pick up my shirt and chatted with a veteran runner. He suggested a few more exercises and showed me a strap that I could try running with while I’m still recovering. It felt great!
He talked me into taking a week off of running. No problem. I can handle a week, right? Umm… no right. Here’s me earlier tonight wearing the new half training shirt:
You might be a runner if you run while on a running break. Or maybe I’m addicted.
So now I’m just icing
And hanging out with these two yahoos: