running

I Never Have Been One To Give Up

Late October of last year I was having a crummy day and took off for a run. I needed the fresh air and movement to calm my mind, and I don’t use the word need lightly. There’s nothing absolutely nothing like a run to organize both my thoughts and my day and give a hefty lift to my spirit.

At the end of my run I limped up the driveway and decided to call the doctor and take a month or so off, just for good measure. The crankiness in my knee was becoming downright ticked off, and running was the obvious culprit.

Fast forward to today, a year later, and I have attempted two runs since then.

Darn.

In August, I decided to quit going for walks too.

I had been beyond worried that it would be a surgical case, that I’d be laid up for several weeks. Instead it’s a complex scenario of bursitis, patellofemoral syndrome and IT band syndrome. None of them are particularly severe, but none are readily treatable.

We tried two different types of injections in two different places, and I’m none the better for them.

What more is there to do but rest? This particular malady, or combination of them, isn’t awful, in fact, when I just sit around, it calms right down.

Alas, that’s easier said than done. Running not only keeps my mind on track, it tones and sculpts my body. It’s my go-to for managing stress, grief, joy, frustration, my ADHD and my weight and health. I have literally been self-medicating every part of my physical and mental health with intense and prolonged exercise. It’s like the snake oil of yesteryear, guaranteed to fix everything from the vapors to sleep.

And now, like dust in the wind, it’s gone.

Not that there is such a thing as good timing, but during the first year after losing our daughter to an overdose, I was in a lousy position for losing my primary coping mechanism.

I prefer to keep a positive attitude, but in this case, I have been just plain pouty. I’ve lost my ability to run in the past, and against the odds, worked my butt off getting back on my feet. I just wonder aloud why me, when there are millions of people who would no sooner run than be swarmed by bees. A knee that only gets cranky with exercise would be no burden to many, why, once again, do I have to suck it up and give up something that I love and that’s good for me in so many ways?!

I won’t BS you and try to say that I understand any of this. But I will tell you that I’m not about to stay down.

Instead I’ve been seeing a counselor and learning new and more coping skills. I’ve developed many new hobbies like collecting maple sap and making syrup and tending chickens, as well as cultivating my largest and most productive garden yet and canning and freezing the bounty.

I’ve enjoyed living the slower pace of homesteading, and it’s indubitaly beneficial to have my pocket full of coping skills to better equip me for whatever life throws at me.

But. . .

I won’t give up on running.

My shoes have moved to the back shelf in the garage, and they’re mighty dusty, yet I’m clinging to them with just a tiny glimmer of hope.

I never have been one to give up on anything.

family · running

Everything I Need To Know About Fitness I Learned From My Mom

My mom started running in when she was in her 30’s, and became a fitness phenom before it was cool, especially for women. There was no Target, let alone an affordable fitness department, so in winter she would don her sweats with cotton tights underneath with an old stocking cap, a scarf and jacket and get out to run, no excuses, ever. She ran in freezing cold and blazing heat, wind, rain and ice. She ate “clean” long before it was even a thing, and pumped iron in the garage. I thought she was nuts at the time, but she left an impression. Her steadfast example went unheeded through my youth, but in my 20’s when I decided to get into a healthier lifestyle, I found I already knew what to do, I had to look no further than example she had set.

There were no gimmicks or secrets to her fitness routine. She never fell for a fad diet or nutrition drink. She just looked at her circumstances and added a huge heap of common sense, which is free for all to use.

  1. Eat real food, heavy on the fruits and veggies.
  2. Skip the artificial junk. Yes, it goes with #1, but it doesn’t go without saying. If it comes in a package, less is more.
  3. Portion size matters, don’t get carried away.
  4. Sit down and savor your food, you’ll be more satisfied with less.
  5. Pass on the alcohol. Maybe wine has benefits, but it has sugar too, save it for special occasions.
  6. Treats are treats. A little goes a long way.
  7. Play, it keeps you young.
  8. You won’t melt. Go outdoors in crummy weather.
  9. It’s okay to get dirty. People are washable.
  10. Heavy work is for women too, you get great muscle definition shoveling snow, push mowing the lawn and raking.
  11. Get outside your comfort zone. When my mom first started running my sisters giggled as she struggled to make it a quarter mile. When she finished first a 5k, then a 10k, and eventually a 25k, they could only cheer.
  12. Movement helps what ails you, especially when paired with fresh air.
  13. It’s supposed to be hard. If it was easy, everyone would do it.

It’s been almost 40 years since something clicked in her head and my mom decided to get fit, and she’s never looked back. When I see her playing tag with her grandkids and great-grandkids at the playground and swimming with them at the lake, my heart swells with gratitude for the health and strength she has maintained well into her 70’s. Not only has it served her well, she pays her health forward to her children and grandchildren and even her grandchildren’s children. She has passed down to us all a legacy of health and well-being that I am proud to carry on, and can only hope serves me as well as it has her.