Happy new year everyone! Today, I feel like 2013 is going to be a great year!
I guess that between the holidays and being stuck in a bit of a flare without the energy to put a positive spin on it or the desire to add to the negativity you often find online, I didn’t have much to say over the last month since my last blog post. At any rate, it’s a new year and I’m back!
Let me catch you up on both my RA and my marathon training. Over the last month or so I’ve been having more inflammation and pain in my feet. The three smallest toe joints in each foot have been pretty stiff and painful. It wasn’t hurting more with running, but it was making me just not want to go running. Or do yoga. Or do much of anything at all.
Despite all that, I’ve started my ski season. It makes my foot, especially my right foot, extremely angry and swollen to ski. It’s a little reminiscent of last year’s ski season, before I knew I had RA, but thought my feet mysteriously had grown because it was such a painful struggle to put my boots on (Nope, they were just majorly swollen with RA!). At least this year my boots go on fine. I just start to feel them swell and press on the boot about halfway through the day. (Yeah, yeah, maybe I should lay off the moguls, powder and trees, but where’s the fun in that?) It’s a little disappointing that I’m not just “cured”, but I’m grateful to be back on the slopes.
Combine my mad ski foot with lack of sleep because of an unexpected, but welcome holiday houseguest, and RA symptoms seemed to be creeping up on me.
Then, like I like to do, I pushed myself a bit too hard. After a week of Christmas parties (read: not enough sleep) and a day of mogul skiing, I decided to go on a 10-mile run with my two Barcelona marathon training buddies. My pace is slower than theirs, but I tried to keep up anyway, and the run was pretty rough. My foot didn’t feel great, I accidentally hyperextended my knee on a steep downhill, and the cold weather and wind made my normally-dormant asthma flare up.
After that, my marathon training started feeling pretty damn stupid. And there’s nothing like seeds of doubt to make everything – from pain to happiness to stress – worse.
I knew I needed a break. I took two weeks off of running completely, only skiing twice (foot wasn’t exactly happy about the skiing). I spent the time doing holiday stuff, eating and relaxing. It felt good to rest, but a little dispiriting. In all that resting, I was secretly giving up on the marathon.
Then last Saturday rolls along. My training buddy and I were supposed to be at 16 miles (wtf, right?!), but my feet were hurting (especially the right one) and just the thought of one mile was enough to make me want to go back to bed. But, I didn’t. I strapped on my running shoes and drove to meet her. I warned her that one mile might be my limit and she could be on her own, and she agreed that I should prioritize my health.
So, we took off. Mile one felt good, mile two great. We got lost in conversation, and suddenly we were at mile eight. I started playing music, and miles 10-14 literally had me grinning. It felt SOOO good to be running. My feet felt fine. Honestly, it was so weird. The last two miles were a little rougher, but totally manageable. Nothing like the miserable 10-mile run I’d done over the holidays.
16.4 miles later, I felt great. I mean, beaming ear-to-ear, exhilarated, and feeling for the first time in nearly a month that a marathon was possible and not the dumbest idea I’d ever had.
Another bonus from my awesome run: I woke up the next day and my feet DIDN’T HURT. I don’t really have an explanation for this. Maybe the run and the stretching after actually stretched them out in a way they needed. Maybe my flare just ended (topic for another post, but my symptoms seemed to disappear with my waning hormone cycle – read: period). Whatever. I didn’t care too much why, I just felt great. AND I’ve continued to feel great all week – my mood and energy levels are way better; I’ve done yoga, weights and a six mile run.
Moral of the story: please don’t give up. Or, in the brilliant words of Winston Churchill, “NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP.” I feel like it really is that simple.
Sure, listen to your body. Take a break if you need to, but don’t get sucked into that creeping, enticing lazy, depressive apathy that can take over your life. Strap on your shoes, go for a run (or whatever that activity is that makes you feel happy, powerful and strong). Just never, never, never give up.