A few months ago, I posted about reducing my running footprint and my resolution to minimize my waste for the second half of 2019. I started tracking my landfill waste from running back on June 1 and keeping it in a jar. How’s it going?
I prefer to run alone so I can make sure I’m sticking to my training plan. However, I feel bad to constantly turn my friend down who frequently asks me to run with her, so I’ve started doing one of my weekly easy runs with her. At first it was ok, but over the last few weeks she started to stop to use the restroom. It’s gotten to the point where we run for an hour and we stop three times! It’s driving me crazy! I feel like I’m not fulfilling the purpose of the hour run when I break it up into three parts with several minute stops each time. But I hate to be a jerk. What do I do?
Signed, Not Training For a PQ
Thanks for writing in, my bladder-endurance-gifted friend. Urine luck, because I have thoughts to share! I’m sure we’ve all been on both sides of your dilemma: we are all the one who has to pee a lot, but we are also the one who can’t stand to stop for a minute because dammit, we’ve got one job here and only an hour to do it!
So, not surprisingly, your letter raises issues that reflect this dichotomy. Read more >>
This post has been a long-time coming, but it’s felt really hard to write, which is why you’re reading it almost four weeks after the Collegiate Loop Trail FKT. I’m not sure why this has been so hard to write, exactly, but I suspect it has a little to do with the fact that I’m still processing it all. While I have been recovering physically, because this is my first endeavor like this, I haven’t known if what I am going through is normal or indicative of an injury. Not unexpectedly, the Collegiate Loop FKT had a profound impact on my life, on my perception of self and what I was capable of, but also on what I wanted out of life. I’m only starting to understand the extent of what it means for my identity and my future.
But let’s start with the easy stuff to talk about – my physical recovery. The night I finished the attempt, I felt like I could not take one more step. I felt strongly, however, that I needed to get my rental car from where it was parked at my Sunday night AirBnB, so Kris took me to get my car and then headed to the hotel in Buena Vista he had reserved for the night. I had planned nothing logistics-wise post-FKT – I had no idea when I’d finish or if I’d finish, so I’d only planned to up to the start of the FKT. When we got to the hotel, I just wanted to lay down, but I was covered in mud and two days of camping (I got a shower on night two), so I hobbled to the shower and started to clean up. Standing felt too hard, so at a certain point, I just sat on the floor of the bathtub with the shower on, and tried to scrub off the dirt that was caked on my legs. I got most of it off except for an oddly persistent black stain on the inside of both ankles. Giving up, I hobbled to the bedroom, and settled on to my bed to search for a pizza company open this late (it was around 11 p.m.). Earlier that day, I had been debating what I wanted to eat when I finished, and pizza had won over my heart and mind. While Buena Vista does not have many food chains, they did have a Domino’s Pizza, which has a gluten-free crust. They were open, so I placed a delivery order for a veggie gluten-free pizza and sat down to wait for it to arrive.
Already, my legs were feeling the effects of the last four days. They felt red and raw and too big for my skin. While my upper body was mostly fine, just a little sore from carrying a pack and using the hiking poles, my legs (and especially my lower legs), felt like they had been run over with a cheese grater. Although I didn’t fall once, I had scratches from plants along the trail, and the insides of my ankles were bleeding from how often I kicked the inside of them as I got tired. As well, both of my heels were raw and bleeding, having rubbed on the back of my running shoes for hours every day. I didn’t, however, feel any type of acute pain – pain was, for the most part, diffuse across my legs. I was equally hobbled.
That night, I didn’t sleep well, which wasn’t unexpected — I never sleep well after a race. My legs were throbbing, and while I felt a little better the morning after, it wasn’t by much. In the light of day, I realized that the “stains” I couldn’t clean off of my ankles was actually bruising, bleeding, and chafing from the multiple times my foot had grazed the opposite leg as fatigue had set in.
For the first time ever since I started running, I felt completely and totally okay with a rest day. I couldn’t have run if I tried. I resolved to refuel and rest, and after coffee, got on task. Breakfast was a huge sweet potato scramble, lunch a giant curry bowl at my favorite Buena Vista restaurant, House Rock; lunch was followed by two giant scoops of salted caramel ice cream. Enjoyment of this indulgence was diminished by the fact that I wasn’t actually hungry, but the food tasted good, and I never felt stuffed. More concerning, however, was the size of my lower legs, particularly my right one. While it was swollen when I woke up, the edema increased throughout the day, exacerbated when I stayed in one place, and now my ankles were cankles. There was no division between my calf and foot, and my feet and calves were huge. The edema was so serious that it started leaking out of the cuts on my legs, and I was seriously concerned. That afternoon, feeling out of sorts and restless, I left for Denver. I didn’t want to leave Buena Vista (BV), but I felt like I needed to put some geographic distance between me and everything that had just happened. In Fairplay, 30 or so minutes away from BV, I almost turned around and went back, but I kept driving. I felt like I needed to create physical space to get some clarity.
I arrived in Denver and immediately felt overwhelmed – the traffic was insane, it was hot, and there were people everywhere. From the second I arrived in Denver, I wanted to be back in BV. So, in the middle of another restless night, I decided to go back to BV first thing in the morning. That resolved, I slept soundly. The next morning, the swelling in my legs had gone down a little, and I did some googling and found out that this seemed to be a pretty normal part of recovery from multi-day ultra endurance events even though I’d never suffered from it before. It still felt gross. On the positive side, my appetite had returned with a vengeance, and I was starving. I ate a huge Starbucks breakfast, made a quick stop at the source of all good things, REI, and headed back to BV, arriving in time for a late lunch at House Rock (again). I took another rest day, which also wasn’t much of a mental struggle – I was too afraid of my swollen legs to try to figure out what might happen if I tried to make them run (or, alternatively, tried to fit them into shoes). Otherwise, however, I felt fine – I was almost insatiably hungry but not sore in any meaningful way.
The next morning, the swelling was even better, and while I didn’t feel like running, I definitely felt like walking, so I convinced Kris that we needed to walk to breakfast instead of drive. I was ready to get this recovery show on the road and really missing the mental space I get from running. What I’d just done, 161 miles in less than 4 days, felt big, yet I didn’t feel like it was a big deal. To me, then, the FKT was a thing I did, it was really really hard, but it was done, over, and now I felt a bit lost. Even though it had just been two or so months of planning, the CTL FKT had occupied the front or back of my mind that entire time, and now that it was done, there was empty space. I needed to figure out what was next, but I didn’t want to rush to do that before I’d processed what had just happened and what it meant for my life. I knew running would help me to process this, too, but I wasn’t willing to jump into running and injure myself for real.
So I took that third day easy again, but I was relieved to see that my coach had put some running on the schedule for the subsequent day. I woke up the next morning ready to run. I didn’t know what to expect as I’d been walking in sandals for days. From the second I put on my trail runners, my right achilles felt painful. That pain wasn’t replicated in my left leg, so this panicked me a bit, but I resolved to take my still swollen legs for a spin. The first few steps were slow and painful, but with the exception of what I thought was pain in my Achilles, everything else felt great. I ran around five miles, and while I was exhausted at the end, it was a good exhausted feeling. My Achilles pain scared me, as Achilles injuries are no joke, but the pain subsided the second I took off my running shoes. My left leg was almost back to its normal size. In contrast, my right leg was closer to normal size in the morning, but by the end of the day, especially if I’d been standing, it would swell again to double its size. The next morning, I ran again, 8 miles, and again, everything felt fine except for my Achilles. I was mystified by the pain that seemed to disappear when I took off my running shoes, and I was also scared of what it might be – was my Achilles torn? Much googling of Achilles injuries later, I was in the throes of an existential injury panic, and my coach suggested that I cross train and rest for a few days until I was back in Alabama.
I stayed in BV until the day before I had to catch my flight back to Alabama, where I’d start work the next day. If I could pick any place in the world to live, it would probably be BV and not just because of my favorite restaurant, House Rock (so, hey, major university, perhaps it’s time to open a campus there?). BV was relaxing, beautiful, and a true vacation. My time there did end, however, and I headed to the Denver airport and into a work crisis, which consumed my last day in Colorado. My left leg had completely returned to its normal size and fitness, but my right was still swollen, perhaps no longer in a way that was noticeable to others. The Achilles still hurt in real shoes, but I’d started to become convinced that I had bursitis (instead of a tear, partial tear, or even tendonitis). There was a bump on my right heel, and my heel area only hurt in shoes that rubbed on it. I was still super scared that it was a real injury, however, and that kept me treating it like glass and refusing to do any strenuous activity that wasn’t running. A little less than two weeks after the completion of the FKT, I had a sports massage, which finally worked out the remaining fluid in my legs, and they returned to normal size. Two weeks to the day after I completed the FKT, I went to the orthopedist who confirmed that I did not have any Achilles injury and even called the bursitis self-diagnosis into question, bringing my attention to my heels where the backs of my trail runners had rubbed them raw. That, the doctor suggested, was the cause of the Achilles pain and the reason it only hurt in shoes – otherwise, he did a full check-up and cleared me to start training in earnest again.
That was a huge relief. Prior to this, I didn’t know if I could run safely (and, I needed running because this is when I process things), so the all-clear from the doctor was also when I started being able to get excited for what was coming next. Time is a great healer, too, as is another big new goal – an FKT attempt of the Camino de Costa Rica.
Physically, I’m recovered and training in earnest again, but mentally and emotionally, I’m still processing the FKT.
I still miss being on the trail, every day. The FKT was hard and terrible at times, but it was also simple and clear. It wasn’t easy to do, but it was easy to know what to do. Life doesn’t offer many opportunities like that. They say that the disjuncture between experiences, say your vacation versus your work life is what helps you to value the vacation, and while I’m not so sure that isn’t just a capitalistic attempt to quell disquiet from an unfulfilled life filled with work, I certainly do miss the simplicity of life during and, to some extent, after the FKT. Everything and everyone felt more real. Stripped of everything that is my armor in my professional life – heels, makeup, sheath dresses – I felt realer too. There is nowhere to hide out there, and that includes hiding from yourself and your thoughts. I didn’t have any grand revelations while running, yet I did realize, with absolute clarity, that this was where I belonged.
As someone who has, for a better part of her life, been trying to find the place where I belong, I can’t shake an almost persistent sadness that I’m not on a trail, somewhere, right now. And that, I think, has been the hardest part of returning from Colorado – now that I found my space, how can I incorporate this fully into every aspect of my life, my scholarship, my world?
I’m still working this part out.
When you run, you get to know all kinds of roads and trails. And many of us also get to know the debris alongside our roads and trails too. Over 51 billion pieces of litter land on U. S. roadways each year, according to Keep America Beautiful’s National Visible Litter Survey and Litter Cost Study. That’s 6,729 pieces of detritus per mile. Yikes!
Twice a year, my running club finishes our run on our regular Saturday morning route, then grabs trash bags and gloves to head out along our route for a second time. We spend that second lap cleaning up the roads and paths we use weekly as a way to give back and be good stewards in the neighborhood. And you know what, it’s just as fun as our regular runs ever are!
If you’d like to organize your own runners’ day of service, here are six easy steps you can employ.
Wrapped up in a compact 5’3 package, Samantha Palmer is a a big presence. She’s a whirlwind of positive energy that blends Midwestern nice with Southern charming to make a flavor all her own. I was lucky enough to meet with her before the USA 10K championship race and got to experience firsthand her excitement bubbling over, because for the first time in many years she would be racing with her sister. Not to mention, it was an excuse for them to come back to New York City together. “We had such a great time when we were here [last November]! And I just love New York Road Runners.”
Not only does NYRR operate the New York City Marathon, they are also a year-round organizer of near-weekly races, have impactful youth programs and activate local runners in community organization, volunteerism and fundraising for charity. Putting on a great event that runs smooth is their specialty, and for elite runners that makes everything simple. It also, as Samantha pointed out, affords them the ability to seed their events with excellent purses and that attract excellent fields.
That was especially true for this race. Read more >>
I never met you, but I am braver because of you.
I first started following you years ago. I thought it was incredible that there was a professional runner right here in the Twin Cities, training in the same places I did, even running the same events. I remember being at the fieldhouse for my track practice and seeing you training there. I wanted to say hi, but didn’t want to interrupt your workout—you were so freaking fast!
When you shared that you had been diagnosed with cancer in your liver, I learned more about your story. That you became a professional runner in spite of your earlier fights with cancer amazed me.
When my team and I cheered you on at the Twin Cities 1 Mile, it was extra special for us to watch you run. Our coach had been diagnosed with kidney cancer, and it meant so much to us that you were fighting hard and living your life to the fullest despite having cancer for the fourth time in eight years. I believed in the future I’d be cheering for you in the Olympics, where you would show not just the Twin Cities but the whole world that a cancer diagnosis is not the end.
But cancer is merciless. When I heard that you had been moved to comfort care and would lose this race against time, my heart ached for you and your stolen future. You were so strong, so inspirational, so tough. It just seems wholly unfair that you’d never get to have the career and the life you deserved.
Friends of mine who knew you and your husband have been sharing stories and prayers on social media; the common denominator is that their lives have all been beautifully touched by you. The Twin Cities running community would not be the same without you. Your legacy will live on here, and throughout the world, forever.
Even though I never met you I feel so lucky to have trained on the same track as you did, and to have run alongside the Mississippi River where you ran. I remember reading about you running again after chemotherapy and I was amazed that you were able to persevere.
Honestly, I can’t say it better than you did: “Being brave, for me, means not giving up on the things that make me feel alive.”
The Brave Like Gabe Foundation raises money for cancer research, but also inspires us all to be more like you, working tirelessly for the world we want to live in. Your story is being shared worldwide by runners and non runners alike, touching all the people whose lives have been changed by cancer. And you did show the world that a cancer diagnosis is not the end. You set an example for those who are scared and confused by their own diagnosis and showed them they can continue to live their dreams, continue to live their life, and do the things that make them happy.
With much love and gratitude,
Do you have coworkers, families, roommates, kids, pets, partners and various corporations competing for your attention? Do you spend most of your days at work in a box with the same people day in and out, the stress and animosity growing between you like a brood of sea monkeys?
Togetherness is overrated. That’s why this year, we have named June 7th the first annual Run By Yourself Where Nobody Can Bother You Day, brought to you by the sponsor that guarantees it will never be a bother to you*, SaltyValu™.
*SaltyValu™ may occasionally collect all your data and sell it to pirates on the darkweb.
You can get in on the fun as well! All you have to do is fight off your family, friends and job and carve out however much time it will take you to run in the opposite direction of them until you are out of sight and earshot. Remember, it doesn’t count if passers by are likely to catcall you, ask for directions, make obnoxious noises or otherwise not leave you alone. And it definitely doesn’t count if you can be hassled by your friends or loved ones.
Here’s what social media influencers are saying about RBYWNCBY Day! Read more >>
So, I’m a big ol’ nerd about the environment. I’ve written before about ways to be a more Earth-friendly runner. “Zero waste” is popular out there, but for many of us it can seem unattainable. I mean, I compost, buy most of my clothes secondhand and shop at the farmers’ market, isn’t that enough?
Sometimes we talk ourselves out of the big goals and then get afraid to set any goals at all, both in running and in life. What’s amazing about being a runner is that we know how to set little goals that help mark our progress toward big goals.
Soon I was discussing minimizing my waste from races with fellow Saltines, and thinking about all the little goals I could set. Pretty soon I was back to dreaming big again. I’m going to aim to be zero waste with my running from June to December 2019. Read more >>
There are two types of run out there in Saltyland. Mostly we run just to run; to get the workout done with no distractions. Sometimes though, running can be a super-practical way to multitask. That’s the second type of run: the practical variety. Got an easy jog on the schedule? Combine it with errands for superwoman-style efficiency! Need to transport something from point A to point B? Just run with it and save on gas money or public transportation. Boom! Miles in the bank! Read more >>
I grew up playing piano. Like, really playing piano. I was obsessed. In my teens, I even created my own arrangements for recitals. I used to be able to practice and perform under any circumstances—my baby sister would be running circles around me, shouting overhead at our mom, and I would keep playing, completely unfazed. TV blasting, phone ringing, vaccuum roaring, others in my house roaring at each other … I would keep playing. I loved it so much that I could block out everything else and focus on the piano only. When I played, I was only vaguely aware of the TV, of the appliances, of the screaming.
In adulthood, I’ve lost that precious, childlike ability to focus in compartmentalize and hyper focus on a single task without melting down about my surroundings. In fact, I am totally aware of everything swirling around me at all times. The closest I’ve ever come to that focus since childhood? Running, obviously.
Perhaps less obvious is that my inability to tolerate the swirling vortex of chaos without running is exactly why I had to step away from it. Or so I thought.
Is this thing on? It’s been a minute since I’ve blogged. Er, actually, about five years. If you remember me from before: congrats! You are a true Salty Running devotee. If you don’t, that’s okay. My MO was pretty straightforward, maybe even trite: qualify for Boston, but ya know, keep it balanced. I felt like I had a good perspective.
Running is only a part of my life, not my whole life, she wrote, presciently.
Even after I left the Salty-verse, again and again, Boston was my goal. If you don’t do that, at least PR. If you don’t do that, why show up? I shaved some time off my 26.2 mile journeys. I teetered on the right side of overtraining. It was working.
Balance is a funny thing.
And then it wasn’t. First I bonked a race, hard, then I dropped out of another due to heat and a cranky hip. I didn’t even start another. I did run the Flying Pig Marathon in Spring ‘16, but DNFed again that fall, and then again last spring. If you are keeping track, that would be a DNS and three DNFs. That last one really stung because I felt like it would be a big one. I had hired a coach and was nailing my workouts. I wasn’t going to qualify, but I had a solid time in me.
Sometimes running is just a thing, and sometimes it seems like the only thing.
What was going on with me? The truth is, I had crossed over to the wrong side of the edge and a lot of things in my life were going wrong. People had cancer. My dog was really sick and we weren’t sure why. My career was a mess. Why couldn’t running be what went right?
Sometimes, you don’t realize that running has become your only thing.
Last spring, everything changed. I got a new job. Actually, The Job. Pretty darn close to my dream job, only there are neither puppies nor free ice cream. Slowly, and then all at once, something shifted in how I thought of running.
Just a few weeks into the job, I decided to downgrade my fall marathon to a half. Life needed to come first. This was a big career change for me, and I wanted to be sure to get it right from the outset. That meant passing on the stress and struggle of marathon training while I got settled; I didn’t want to ever say no to an opportunity because of a run.
A few weeks after that, I was t-boned while driving home. I was mostly okay – just some cuts and bruises – but my car was not. After taking ten days off and still feeling pretty shaken, my goals for my annual Fourth of July 10K were completely different. Nothing like your car doing a 180 to change the way you look at things. It was my slowest 10K ever, but who cares?
Throughout the summer and into the fall, I kept missing runs after having to move them around several times. Before, going for a run was a top priority because it provided stress relief, an escape, a bright spot in my days coping with a job I had outgrown, among other Big Problems. But now I don’t ever want my job to be the thing to give.
Finding balance takes practice.
What I envisioned as a fast fall half turned into an easy run alongside a dear friend, our only goal to run the whole way and to spend a fun weekend together. Check and check! I felt spent after and pulled out of the half I’d planned a few weeks later. I needed a break. I wanted running to be fun and not a to-do list item.
Y’all, I needed to hit reset on my relationship with running.
So I ran when I wanted to and slept in if I wanted to. I went to cat yoga (twice, actually!) and also normal human yoga. I listened to what my body wanted. Then, one day, as they do, a Facebook memory sparked something in me when it popped up. It was a photo from the 2012 Monumental Marathon.
And I’ll admit, my first thought was how good I looked. But what really hooked me was how happy and fit I seemed. I remembered the race and how so many things had gone wrong, from missed connections to a dead iPod to hail (HAIL!), and how I shrugged my shoulders and said, “Eh, I’ve got this.” And I did. I was well trained but not overly so. I wanted a certain time, but it wasn’t the end of the world when I didn’t get it. It was the last race I could remember that seemed like I’d had it truly right, and I wanted that again.
I’ve struggled to explain this to some people, because I had PRs after that. As if they want me to put a clock time to this easy way of being that I’m after. But I can’t, because there isn’t one. It isn’t about time.
It’s about attitude. It’s about balance.
So that’s the story of how, in the past year, I have reclaimed my time and redefined my relationship with running. And really, truly made balance A Thing I Do. I’m not just paying it lip service or doing it just enough to come back from injury. Balance is now firmly ensconced in my being. I go to yoga 1-2 times a week. I row 1,000 meters and track my progress. I lift weights. I have some races on the calendar, but I’m keeping it wide angle and making a long slow build.
I can’t prescribe a formula for how to get there. I certainly wouldn’t recommend the path I took.
It’s easy to say you want balance when you have it, but you don’t really appreciate it until you’ve been knocked off kilter.
Finding balance takes practice. It is my practice to find it.
Okay, maybe the word “blissful” is not the best way to describe how I felt running in the earliest weeks of my pregnancy. In fact, I fluctuated between joy and pure anxiety about my lack of control over my body. This is my first pregnancy, so I have no prior experiences to compare with the way I feel right now.
I didn’t have the worst first trimester experience, but I definitely was not experiencing that pregnancy glow. In fact, I wanted to punch anyone who told me pregnancy was a beautiful thing, a feeling I attribute to the hormone surges. A lot of changes were going on in my body, and it definitely changed my running routines, as well. I had good runs and not-so-good runs. Slower paces and more frequent walk breaks became the norm.
It wasn’t easy adjusting to this change. Running has always been my stress relief, my therapy. When it felt like it became much more difficult, it was frustrating. Being pregnant has already made many things more difficult; why does my running have to be so hard, too?
So here it is, in all of its glory … my experiences running in the first trimester!
We runners are an impatient bunch. After a year or so of downshifting our running due to pregnancy and childbirth, we’re raring to find that running identity again. But physical changes mean physical challenges. Runners who’ve ever been pregnant often joke about peeing our pants – just a little! – on the run. Is it sweat on those gray shorts, or is it pee? Tee hee. And we laugh at the outdated medical advice that women shouldn’t run because their uterus might fall out, but pelvic organ prolapse is a real phenomenon (read Poppy’s guide to pelvic floor 101!)
Welp, the dreaded plantar fasciitis has come back to bite me in the heel. It’s the other heel this time, for some reason. I’ve fought this monster before and emerged victorious, but it took a long time. This time around, I’ve started fighting it more quickly and more seriously, rather than trying to run through the pain before giving up and starting treatment weeks or months later. Hopefully this will let me get back to running as quickly as possible. In the meantime, since this is not my first rodeo (to switch fighting-animals-metaphors midstream there), I’ve got some coping techniques at my disposal. Not gonna lie, I am seriously unhappy and dealing with injured-runner-rage over the return of this injury. But the advantage of having to fight again is that I know what to do. Read more >>
Whether intentionally or not, everyone lies to their coach. This is a terrible idea. Why do we do it?
What’s that? You’d never lie to your coach? Are you sure? Because there are a few different ways it can happen. You might not even be aware you’re lying!
There is lying by commission, such as:
- Yes, that pace felt quite easy! When actually you were huffing and puffing.
- My foot is fine. Well, there was that one little twinge, but I won’t count that.
- I ran too far because I got lost. Which you knew would happen, but it was a beautiful day and you just felt like running further.
- Strategically stopping and starting the watch to manipulate how the workout appears.
Then there is lying by omission, which is even easier:
- Failure to mention that recurring hip pain.
- “Forgetting” about a local 5K and racing it anyway.
- Simply running too far (or not far enough) but not saying anything about it.
- Healthy Running
- Running + Life
- Training & Racing
- Training Logs
- September 2019
- August 2019
- July 2019
- June 2019
- May 2019
- April 2019
- March 2019
- February 2019
- December 2018
- November 2018
- October 2018
- September 2018
- August 2018
- July 2018
- June 2018
- May 2018
- April 2018
- March 2018
- February 2018
- January 2018
- December 2017
- November 2017
- October 2017
- September 2017
- August 2017
- July 2017
- June 2017
- May 2017
- April 2017
- March 2017
- February 2017
- January 2017
- December 2016
- November 2016
- October 2016
- September 2016
- August 2016
- July 2016
- June 2016
- May 2016
- April 2016
- March 2016
- February 2016
- January 2016
- December 2015
- November 2015
- October 2015
- September 2015
- August 2015
- July 2015
- June 2015
- May 2015
- April 2015
- March 2015
- February 2015
- January 2015
- December 2014
- November 2014
- October 2014
- September 2014
- August 2014
- July 2014
- June 2014
- May 2014
- April 2014
- March 2014
- February 2014
- January 2014
- December 2013
- November 2013
- October 2013
- September 2013
- August 2013
- July 2013
- June 2013
- May 2013
- April 2013
- March 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012