Saturday, May 20, 2017

Blessings In Disguise

No one taught me how to run. I don't think there's anyone who needs to be taught, but I could be wrong. Once you start walking as a toddler or like I did at 7 months old(according to my mom), you develop the uncontrolled forward fall with your legs moving fast and awkwardly trying to keep you upright. Try to imagine the pure joy you had when you were that age of learning how to walk or "fall" forward. For the parents out there, try and remember your child's face as they would do that toothless giggle as they trotted forward. That's running. No one taught us how to do it, we just get up and fall forward.

Once I rediscovered running, I had people help guide me along on "proper" form and coach me, helping improve my endurance. I've done some research on my own, watching and studying people, athletes, runners. In doing so, I've developed my own style that works for me. Every single person I've ran with or trained with has told me "stretch." Coach Frank would give me the disappointed look if he knew how little I stretch, but the truth is, I barely do. He would say "listen to your body." He would preach taking care of your body in recovery to help prevent injuries. Basically, look at the big picture. When I show up for a run, I don't think I leave myself with any time to stretch before or after. Excuses.

Up until recently, I've been gambling when I run both before and after the run because of how little I stretch. I would go run long and hard, take a shower, drink some water and go to work. Not too long ago, maybe a few weeks, I went for a run like I normally do. I took a new(ish) route and PR'd on the way back to the trailhead. My legs felt sore, but nothing to worry about. I thought it was your normal post run soreness, but I was wrong. The following day, I went out for a run. I set out, limping, for about 100 yards before I stopped and turned around. One thing I've always heard and practiced was, as long as nothing mechanical is going wrong, I can continue to push through the pain. This pain that caused my limping felt as if my hip was popped out of socket and the bone was trying to get back in, rubbing on my pelvis. It sucked. I wasn't able to walk right and my heart sank knowing I wasn't going to be able to run that day or perhaps the next few either. Looking back at the run that perhaps caused it, I don't recall stepping wrong or twisting anything. In fact, I remember finishing the run thinking to myself how great that felt. The following days were painful.

Sleeping wasn't easy because of the pulsing pain my hip/groin area was experiencing, and being on my feet all day at work wasn't helping. My "injury" made normal activities difficult. Two days passed and I couldn't take NOT running anymore, so I went and tried to push through the pain. The run started out difficult, but eventually it all but went away. It was a weird feeling. It's almost as if my leg got warm and the lactic acid built up was breaking away with the constant mashing of my feet on the ground. The lateral movements were helping break up the "lump" or whatever. I finished my run, went to work and felt fine. My leg was never injured! Nope, I was wrong. The next day, my leg hurt even worse. It got to a point where I was going to make a doctors appointment. Anyone who knows me knows how severe that is if I have to make an appointment.

I believe in self healing for the most part. I believe that for the pain I was experiencing, there was a natural way to heal. The most obvious would be staying off my feet. So I decided not running was the best most logical way to start this process. Being on my feet for 10 hours a day at work wasn't going to help. So I started taking Ibuprofen which is terrible for your kidneys just to help ease the pain. I truly don't like relying on any medication to make things better, I wanted to be done with the pain and heal up fast.

Not running sucks. My mood and patience starts to dwindle. I was in such a great spot with running that pausing was such a buzzkill. I was tired of starting over and I didn't want to loose my run fitness. I was getting stronger, faster. I was able to run further, sustaining a more consistent pace. Taking time off from running was stressing me out because I have a race in a few weeks. This rapid drop in my mood was killing me. But I remained positive maintaining my philosophy of "everything happens for a reason."

I believe god puts in situations to learn. There was a reason I was not being allowed to run for an extended period of time. "Why is this happening?" The answer or answers were very clear. First, the obvious one was that I don't stretch. I need to take care of my body in hopes to keep running for a long long long time. Stretching is so easy and feels so good, why don't I do it more? I need to. 5 minutes before and after and before I go to bed and be mindful of my body talking to me. The second reason I was not allowed to run was a little more clouded, but once I understood "why" it became very clear. For a while there, I got caught up with analyzing my stats on Strava. I wanted to be faster on segments than everyone running the loops I was running. I was running to be faster than everyone and though I enjoyed running, I wasn't appreciating it which in turn made it less enjoyable. Basically, I stopped running because of my love running. Instead I was running because I felt I had to.

Running is humbling, wonderful, hard and painful. I love every second of it. I don't run for anyone, but myself. It's a tool that allows me to be the man I am today and gives me the ability to be the man I want to be. I love running early in the morning, on trails I've never been on, in the middle of the day in the summer here in Arizona. I love running to the top of a mountain and sitting there thinking or staring aimlessly out among the valley bellow. I feel healthy, spiritually sound, content, and free. I stopped smiling while I was running for a bit there, not anymore. To recap my seemingly endless rant, I need to stretch A LOT more. But I truly believe the most important thing that'll help keep me running for years to come is that I need to appreciate running and the ability to do so.

In closing, I've been humbled and I am grateful for the learning experience that this nagging injury put me through. Namaste.

Friday, April 28, 2017

For Me

I'm never able to control what I think about while running. Often times, my mind is blank, thinking about nothing and everything all at once. And times, I'm not able to shake a certain subject that just sneaks its way into my train of thought. When this happens, I fall into a groove that allows me to focus(I have no choice) and dwell on said thought. Over the course of the run, I think deeply and learn why it is I'm forced to think so deeply. Here's one of those thoughts.....

Why am I doing this?

Testimonials from runners across the globe will say, "I'm doing this for the kids, my family, my friends." I'm not so sure I share the same view of a sport/activity that requires you to spend hours and hours away from said people. In all reality, it's a very selfish thing to do.

I'm doing this for me. Being a better father, husband, friend are all things that encompass my need to run far and long. My desire to be the best person I can be is what drives me, I do this for me no one else. People in my life are extremely important and it would hurt me to know I've let them down. No, I'm not going out on the trail for hours to get away from my chosen life. No, I'm not going to risk life and limb flying down the mountain just for anyone other than me. I do it because it helps me be a stronger, better person than I was before.

I don't expect everyone to understand, but running is me, it's for me. It's my church, my religion, my chance at greatness.

End rant....

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Finding Myself

The past few weeks, months, days(not in that order), have been a struggle finding my rhythm. Plagued with inconsistency and trouble finding zen. I've found myself making excuses more often than not. It feels as if I'm blaming work, but I wonder if that's what it is. The more I think about it, the more I realize my mind has won this battle. How do I overcome?

Truth is, I'm not too sure. I feel stuck in the valley, climbing a never ending mountain. The top seems so far away, and I've been here before. Let me just say, I'm not in a bad spot, but I'm not where I want to be. Running means so much to me and is crucial to my well being. It's therapeutic, it is very spiritual and quite frankly, it's fun. Those who run, no matter the distance, push their minds and bodies through painful situations and consistently return over and over again.

I want to experience the high, the zen, the complete peaceful mindset. In order to reach any sort of spiritual transformation, I have to travel through the valley, up the hill and that in its own right is going to hurt. Pain needs to be embraced and respected. Understanding that the journey is going to have mountains and valleys is going to help propel me to the top. Move forward, but don't forget to stop and enjoy the sights, listen to the flowing water of the river. All the answers are right there for the taking, I just need to dig deep and find the strength within. I can, and I will find myself. I know where I want to be, I know my true potential, I know it's going to be hard work, but one foot in front of the other and I will overcome.