This was me 5 years ago May 28th. Sweaty, tired, sore, and incredibly proud.
My 2nd mile race. It was also the last race I ever ran (and the speediest to boot). This photo means a lot to me for a lot of different reasons.
I was always the couch potato, the book worm, the slow poke in gym class. Before I started running and working out seriously, being active was just about losing weight and self-punishment. I would make myself work out and tell myself how fat I was for the entire workout. I hated the gym. I started and stopped exercise routines more times than I can count. I would go for a month and then stop because I felt overwhelmed and disappointed that I a) didn’t like going and b) didn’t see the immediate results I wanted.
I didn’t know how to make moving my body just be about moving my body without calories, body fat and all that crap interfering.
I saw people who LOVED to exercise and loved to run and I desperately wanted that. Not just because I knew I was out of shape but because people seemed so fulfilled when they found peace with exercising. Thankfully even though I had stopped and started many times, a desire to try the couch to 5k program changed everything for me.
I went from barely being able to run a minute without sounding like an asthmatic toad to running a 5k race, an 8k race, 10k race and eventually a half marathon. I found myself WANTING to go out for a run. I found myself looking forward to being at the gym the next morning.
This body is meant to do hard things
When I found my inner athlete, it was a really transformative experience.
I began to find pieces of myself on runs. I saw myself in the mirror of my favorite spin class and saw someone different. Someone confident stared back. I would always doubt myself every time I ran a new distance or or tried a new workout routine or made myself run a new route that was challenging. EVERY time I would pleasantly surprise myself when I achieved my goal. Even a bad run is still run. It really is true that you will NEVER regret going to the gym or going out for a run or a bike ride.
Being active became a big part of my life.
My weeks were planned around my runs and gym time. My running shoes came with me on vacation. When I conquered a hard hilly run or did a 2 hour spin class I felt accomplished in a way I never had. I was never a super fast runner and never did crazy long races but I accomplished things I didn’t think “lazy old” me could ever do.
It’s ironic that the thing I loved so dearly and gave me so much confidence would be the catalyst for the CRPS to change my whole life. A simple running injury that turned into a burning beast. How funny it is to have had multiple running injuries over the years but for whatever reason my brain decided to malfunction with this one. BIG TIME.
If I can get into remission I’m not sure I will ever run again and train and push my body the way I used to. I am scared that what will happen if I get hurt AGAIN and my CRPS gets worse or spreads to another area. I am not sure I could forgive myself.
I know the active life that lies ahead for me will look different.
I may never exercise as hard as I used to and my ego will need to accept that. I will ALWAYS be at risk with my CRPS and I will run a risk with any injury turning into CRPS again. I will have to live my life with the understanding that certain physical activities may be too risky.
When I used to get injured running I would get SO upset. I’m sure it seemed odd given how “new” I was to running.
It took me awhile to understand that lot of it was based around wanting to be active for SO long and finally finding my groove. I also was VERY used to telling my body what to do. “What do you mean you aren’t going to move the way I want you to?” Being active and dealing with injuries made me see that my body wasn’t a machine but it often took me pushing an injury too far to learn my freaking lesson. People would always say “Why do you have to run? What not just walk?” I would scoff and sound like a jerk. If working out didn’t include running I wasn’t happy or I didn’t feel like I was working hard enough.
Now I would now give anything to be able to go for a short walk around our neighborhood.
This body is meant to do hard things.
After losing the ability to walk and everything else, my ego has had to accept any movement as an accomplishment. Most of all I know I need to remove my ego from being active as I slowly figure out what I can do with the body I have now and the body I am actively working to get back.
We are all not made to be fast agile athletes that run 30+ miles a week. This used to be a hard pill for me to swallow since most of my friends were very active and of course rarely were injured. You can either stay stuck in what you can’t do and not accomplish ANYTHING or you can “shift” to still achieve things that make you feel proud and make your body feel good.
Maybe I’ll fall back in love with yoga (this is very likely) Maybe I’ll do HIIT workouts from home (also very likely). I have been checking out this workout program and think it may be something I could work towards, just unsure about the amount of high impact jumping etc. Maybe I’ll become a world champion curler and move to Canada (this is very very unlikely!)
If nothing else I would love to FINALLY get involved with Girls On The Run and help young women gain confidence through running. I could still be around running and the running community and help young women feel good about themselves…all the stuff I love all rolled together!!!
Having my health change so drastically has shown me that I have to accept what I can get with my body and things may never look how I think they should.
I will however cry tears of joy and shock if I can just run one mile once I am out of my wheelchair.
I may never run another sweaty somewhat speedy 6:47 mile but to get myself back to just having my feet pound some damn pavement for 1 mile will be sweeter than any race or PR, sweeter than all the memories I have around being active and running.
I remember starting couch to 5k with my best friend Katie and struggling to run a few minutes without feeling like my lungs would explode. I remember finally being able to run for 20 minutes straight for the first time in October of 2008 and feeling so proud. I remember my first spin class and the high that stayed with me all day. I remember crossing the finish line at my half marathon in tears because my hip bursitis was acting up but also so proud of myself for running 13.1 miles. I remember countless beautiful runs as the sun was rising. I remember a magical short run in Hawaii where I found a hidden beach. I remember my first 20 mile bike ride. I remember frustrating runs in the snow and losing feeling in my feet when it was 6 degrees out. I remember hill repeats and fartleks and 400s before work.
I remember becoming an athlete and proving my inner critic wrong.
I know that while all those memories have meaning and hold a place in my heart, I will always remember what it will feel like to run after losing it for 5 years and then losing the ability to walk and everything else too. I have been running in my dreams on and off these past few years and gosh it would be pretty incredible to run again in real life.
This body is meant to do hard things.
What kind of movement makes YOU feel good?