Today I received a Runner's World quote that really stuck with me:
"We runners are all a little nutty, but we're good people who just want to enjoy our healthy, primitive challenge. Others may not understand running, but we do, and we cherish it. That's our only message." John J. Kelly, Olympic Marathoner
I consider myself to be a little nutty, and I know for sure my family and friends do as well. Waking up at 4am to knock out 5 miles on the tredmill is not how most of my friends start their day. Taking a hot bath while I eat a frozen protien shake in the tub is not how most of my friends end their day either. I can spend hours lurking running blogs and even longer hours reading running forums. It makes my day to see my Runner's World in my mailbox. Each day I strive for the challenge that fitness and running brings me. I want to try harder, to run longer and stronger. Some days are easy, and then their are days like yesterday when my body just feels like it has given up and the challenge is hard. Each day, I cherish my runs. I am eager to begin and always feel the "high" it gives me afterwords.
I am happy to say that when I think of running I use the words "I get to run today." A few years ago, I learned the hard way how something you love so much can be taken away from you. I really picked up running at the age of 24, just after graduating from collage. Running came so easy for me then. I was pretty thin and had good endurance. 5 mile runs turned easily into 8 miles, then 10 and before you knew it I was running 70 miles a week. I loved every bit of it. I would run countless times around a near by lake, listening to my music and just "thinking." I always asked myself what I would do if I couldnt run. That time came. Running so many miles, and taking on a new full time job while completing my master's degree left me stressed and overworked. I started to notice a huge weight loss, and then came my blood sugar issues. Before every workout session, within 15 minutes my blood sugar would drop massivly and I would need some type of quick sugar. I increased my calories by hundreds quickly to try to solve the problem. Not only did this not help, but I was feeling severly tired. Returning home after class at 5pm I could barely keep my eyes open. I made countless doctor's appointments, and in turn they ran some tests which showed that my blood sugar was severly low and that I also had Mono. Now, when you think of Mono you just think of you being very tired and sore throats. For me, this was not the case. Along with the Mono, came the blurry vision, bowel movement problems, and panic attacks. I have always been healthy, nothing like this had ever happend before to me and I did not know how to deal. Here I was, 24 always having all the energy in the world, and it all being stripped away from me. Getting through work was now my daily challange. If I were to talk a weekend day and walk through the mall, I would feel the effects the next day with swollen glands and a fever. I then became depressed, and the only way I felt I could deal with this is to keep my weight under control, which meant very skinny. As the year continued my health did not improve. The months passed. I would try to go to the gym and ride 20 minutes on the bike which would only set me back with flu like symptoms for weeks. I started to research everything I could about mono and came upon Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I denied it at first, but the more I started watching my symptoms and speaking with my doctors, this was the conclusion.
At some point I decided to get off my butt and stop feeling sorry for myself. I checked out countless books and read many articles about atheletes who had overcome CFS. I started slowly. Slowly meaning 5 minutes on the bike with no resistance every other day. After two week, and no symptoms I bumped it up to 10 minutes and continued until I was up to a half hour on the bike. The more I increased my endurance at a safe level, the more my energy started to return during the day. Of course I still needed my naps after work to get me through the night if I needed to go out later, but I was becoming stronger. Finally, a year and a half later I was able to run again. Since then, it has been a trial and error with me. It has been about 4 years since I first came down with Mono, and I can see a huge improvement. I no longer need naps on the weekends, and I am able to work out daily. Of course, I have bad days and I have good days. I also have been more keen about my nutrition and my weight. I think my body just stopped and said "Chelsea, that is it. This is too much and you are done. No more!"
I will never forget the feeling of having running taken away from me. To this day, it is a constant reminder. When I overtrain, I think it is better to rest then to go back to where I was at that time. So tomorrow morning when I wake up to do my long run, I am going to say to myself like always "I get to run!"