With My Brave Wings

The past few months have been a bit rough when it comes to running.  I guess it all kind of started at the end of last summer, or maybe the beginning of the fall.  I had started seeing a chiropractor for some pain in my right glute.  The pain, paired with several high mileage months getting ready for two fall half marathons, also led to some pain in my left knee.  Thinking it was IT band syndrome, perhaps caused by my body compensating for my glute problems, I simply pushed through, but finally began seeing the chiropractor about that issue as well.  Unfortunately, with still running higher mileage months, the pain simply got worse.

In mid-December, after a particularly hard workout at the track, the pain in my knee was the worst it has ever been.  I was unable to walk the next day without limping.  It ached while sitting, standing, running, laying down; it hurt all the time.  I scheduled an appointment with a sports medicine orthopedic doctor for the beginning of January.  His first diagnosis was that my left lateral meniscus was torn, and he suggested a cortisone shot, as well as 2 weeks of no running.  I was bummed, but accepted it, and dutifully did my 2 weeks of no running, and I was relatively pain free.  Once I tried running after my 2 weeks off, the pain was immediately back.

After an MRI and another appointment with the orthopedist, it was 100% confirmed that my meniscus was in perfect shape, and there were no structural problems with my knee.  I was torn, mentally.  On one hand, I was glad to have no real problems in my knee.  But on the other hand, I was not making up this pain, and I wanted a clear cut answer!  During this time, I had been seeing the chiropractor almost exclusively for my knee.  ART, Graston, kinesiotaping, and dry needling all helped some, but not entirely.  I was given a series of stretches and exercises to do, as well as a weekly or twice weekly appointment.

It has now been 2 months since my first orthopedic appointment.  I do still have some knee pain, but it is quite a bit better.  My glute, also, is doing much better with my at-home exercises and stretches.

It is still unclear exactly what is/was wrong with my knee, but as far as my chiropractor can  tell, it seems my hamstring and quad are not being activated like they should, which puts a lot of pressure on my calf and knee stabilizing tendons to make up for it.  It likely was an ongoing problem that gradually got worse and worse, and could have been tipped to unbearable by my right glute not doing it’s job, and also by running more than my body wants to run.

So, these last two months, I have run about half of what I would like to run.  I’ve run about 30-40 miles less per month than I was averaging over the last 6 months of 2015.  I’ve added cycling, which is working on strengthening my quads and calves.  I’ve been mostly dutifully doing my stretches and exercises for my knee and glute.  I’ve been running on the grass when I can, instead of the hard asphalt trails and sidewalks. Most of all, I’ve been truly listening to my body, and giving it what it wants, which, apparently right now, is less running miles.

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Where does this leave me? Well, it leaves me in the present.  Accepting what my body can do today.  With that being said, I am working towards running more, cycling more, being in better overall health.  I’m working on strengthening the correct muscles to support my knee correctly.  I’m working on getting my lower back healthy so my glute stops pinching nerves.  I’m working on mentally accepting where my body is today, and I’m working at my own pace to where I want to be.  Where I know I can be.

With that being said, I am dissolving my goal of running 1100 miles in 2016.  What is that number but an arbitrary number I feel like I have to reach to be successful?  Why am I holding myself up to this goal that my body may or may not be able to reach this year? I am all for goals, they motivate me, they inspire me to get out there on the roads, or on the bike, or in the gym.  Goals are great.  But why am I stressing about reaching 1100 miles when I am also adding in biking, which I have never consistently done before? And does that 1100 mile goal also show my gains in strength, or my consistency of exercising and stretching and becoming more healthy?

Instead, I am focusing on being healthy, listening to my body instead of pushing it to get to this arbitrary number that I came up with.  I am accepting my body for what it can do today, and I am proud and encouraging my body to reach higher, go further, and run longer, but within reason, and within the limits of my body today.

I will still be keeping track of my miles, running, biking, etc.  I keep track because I do like to look back, to see my progress, and to push myself to be greater and better than before.  But I will no longer stress about the number that nobody cares about but me.  I will no longer push my body past what it can do, potentially injuring myself, to reach this random number.  Instead, I am looking at how far I have come, how far my body has taken me, and I am looking to what my body can continue to do over the next 40 years of activity.

I am still going to run my races; I am still going to total my runs and cycling at the end of each month.  I am still going to share my journey, try to encourage and inspire those around me.  I am still going to be inspired and encourage by those around me.  But I am no longer holding myself and my body today to reach a random number.

Today, I am running for me. I am cycling for me.  I am becoming strong for me.  And I’m so happy that I’m able to share my life with you, and that you can share yours with me.  That’s what this life is about, after all.

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With My Brave Wings,

2015 Running Roundup

December is over today.  This YEAR is over today.  This is hard to believe.  Time to recap December, and the whole year, in running!  You can catch up on the rest of 2015 here: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, and November.  I set out in 2015 with a few goals related to running.  The first goal, that was updated in May, was to run 950 miles in 2015.  With tonight’s run, I will have 71 miles for December, and I will surpass my goal for 950 miles and end with 965 miles for 2015!

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My other running goals included PRing my 5k and 10k times, with under 30 minutes for the 5k, and under 62 minutes for the 10k, and running a half marathon with minimal walking.  I reached my 5k goal, and ran a PR of 29:29 at the Wild West 5k.  I missed my 10k goal by 1 minute, and ran 1:03:00 at the Plaza 10k, but I did finish the race hand in hand with my best friend Amy, which was a perfect way to PR the 10k!  During the KC Half Marathon, I ran over 10 miles before walking, and my body felt great, but I was dizzy, so I had to walk.  I ended up PRing my half marathon time by over 10 minutes, and only walked a little bit during mile 11.  I was very happy with all three of these races, and many other races (and PRs) in 2015 as well.

Overall, I’m extremely pleased at how my 2015 running year went.  I gained a lot of endurance, speed, and confidence in my running.  Though I had some setbacks with knee and hamstring pain, I am stronger, mentally and physically, than I’ve ever been going into 2016!

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I saw a fun little year end running questionnaire on a friends blog, and thought it would be a fun and different way to recap the year in running! I’d love for you to share your answers in the comments!

Best 2015 race experience – KC Half Marathon – I love this race, and I had a great race, a huge PR, and during the race, I decided to tackle the full marathon distance in 2016!

Best 2015 run – I had so many “best” runs… runs with Mom and Shay in Hays, runs with the Groupies, runs with my best friend Amy, runs in Milwaukee with my sister… so many memorable runs.  Some runs were great because the run was great, some were great because of the company  – one thing I know for sure, none of the runs in 2015 were regretted!

Best new piece of running gear in 2015 – Hoka Clifton shoes! I tried out Hokas about halfway through 2015, and haven’t looked back! I wear my Hokas almost exclusively, and I wear my Altras here and there also.

Best running advice you’ve received in 2015 – “I can do hard things.”

Most inspirational runner in 2015 – My sister, Kristen. She’s so strong and always pushes me to go harder, longer, faster, and stronger than I ever thought.  She runs for her cousin Martilee, who has Rett Syndrome, and is raising awareness and money to help fight Rett Syndrome.  She has focus, positivity, and consistency that I strive for every day.

Favorite race picture of 2015 – This picture was taken at the Plaza 10k, about a half mile after I caught up to Amy, with about 2.5 miles left in the race.  I stayed right behind her, and about .15 from the finish line, I popped up beside her and we ran in together, and crossed the finish line hand in hand!


Photo courtesy KC Running Co.

Race experience from 2015 you would repeat in a heartbeat – Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas 5k – HUGE fun party from start to finish!  The racecation was lots of fun, but unfortunately the half marathon weather was awful! The 5k though, definitely a fantastic experience!

Sum up 2015 in a couple of words – More than expected!

Here’s to a great 2016!