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.

Photo Dec 20, 3 02 03 PM

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.

Photo Feb 20, 5 17 07 PM

With My Brave Wings,

What I See

Yesterday morning at 6:46am, I took the picture below.  I had just biked 20 miles and I was blissfully happy.  I did NOT want to get up when my alarm went off, but I did.  I did not want to go out in the cold to go to the gym, but I did.  Once I got there, I didn’t even really want to cycle, but I did.  The picture below makes me extremely happy, and I will share with you why that is.

Photo Feb 10, 6 46 46 AM.jpg

Past Renee would have snoozed and not gone to cycle class.  Past Renee would have made another excuse, and would have been upset all day for not going to class like planned.  Previous Renee may have taken it easy during class, because “at least I went at all.”

I look at the picture above and I see a different Renee than last month, than last year, than 5 years ago.  I look at the photo above and I am proud and I feel strong.  I am proud of myself for the changes I have made.  I am proud of myself for the changes yet to come.  I took the picture because I wanted to remember the joy I felt in cycling class, not just because of the class (which was great by the way), but because of the person I was during class, and how proud I am that I have become that person.

I see strength in the photo above.  Not only physically, the strength in my shoulders and legs, but I see strength, in my eyes and on my smile.  I may have started cycling to supplement cardio while I couldn’t run, but I’ve fallen in love with my time on the bike, with the atmosphere, and with the strength and happiness I feel when I am in the saddle. Looking at this photo makes me feel empowered.

I wanted to share my thoughts with you, not because I wanted to brag about myself, but because I know many other people are in the same boat and can relate.  Know that you can go the extra mile, and that you are strong and beautiful and capable.  And so I can look at this when my knee hurts, and feel the strength I had yesterday morning, and see the happiness I have, and to remind myself I am capable and strong and brave and can do anything I put my mind to.

I would love for you to share a photo where you feel strong, empowered, and truly happy.