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Some days you wake up to the sound of rain.
In your head, you know the deluge strengthens things that are just beginning to bud and brings the withered, dying things to life.
But when a cloudburst catches you by surprise, you may not feel so benevolent in your heart.
At times, you’re caught in the midst of it, and all you can do is stand there, or maybe call a friend.
Sometimes it rains.
But I have friends with umbrellas.
We huddle together, waiting, listening, and watching things grow.
Do you work out when you’re sick?
I suppose the answer depends on what type of exercise you’re doing and what type of sickness you have. For example, it’s probably not wise to go long distance running when you have the stomach flu.
For some of you, fitness is not just a part of your lifestyle, it’s your job.
So how sick is sick enough to stay in bed?
While training for last year’s marathon, I was never ill. Sure I had knee problems and trouble breathing at times (due to reactive airway disease), but I never had a cold, a flu, or any other of the bountiful springtime viruses. Even during our March trip to Tuscany, when every other person in the Wellman house had stuffy heads and our holiday apartment turned out to be in a cold, damp basement, I was healthy the entire time.
Studies have shown that running builds immunity, but if so, why have I felt so terrible the past three weeks?
Is it allergies, or am I just being lazy?
More than once in the past couple weeks I have gotten up for the day, had a cup of coffee, and then gone directly back to bed.
It is well documented that I am indeed lazy, but the extent of this laziness seems unnatural (even for me). Which leaves me with the question: do I run or rest?
Two weeks ago I ran. Despite going through an entire pack of tissues on an eight-mile run, I stuck with it. Afterwards, I didn’t feel any better or worse than before.
This past weekend, I did a long run of ten miles, and aside from the bothersome runny nose (and the knee problems at the end), I felt strong.
But I am still sick.
And I am SO stinkin’ tired of being sick.
This has been a hot, dry April, so there’s probably a lot of stuff floating around that would have normally been washed away, but when will this end?
Then I think about people like my aunt, who has cancer.
With cancer, you always hear words like ‘fighting’ or ‘battling,’ and I think that’s because of the physical and emotional toll it takes, and as in war, the soldier has his life on the line. Soldiers face hardship and deprivation as well as physical and emotional stress. The only thing that could possibly keep them going is the fight for life.
I have it easy.
Allergies won’t kill me.
But the question I face every day is: do I work, or do I go back to bed?
The other question is: why am I so whiney?
When I think about people who are actually facing difficult things (like cancer or terrorists), I realize I need to just shut up and color.
There’s a marathon in July that’s not going to wipe my nose for me, and I need to be prepared, whether I bring a box of tissues or not.
So, my plan is a little rest this week, then back to the full training schedule.
The marathon countdown begins the first week of May.
*Editor’s note: the phrase “shut up” is forbidden in the Wellman household, as those are unkind words. However, Mike & Keri have been known to occasionally use the phrase to make each other laugh.
Running downhill with the wind at your back is easy; it’s when you turn around you find out how well you’ve prepared.
Saturday’s long run is a good example. I knew I had to run ten miles, so I gave myself two hours, which should have been plenty of time to warm up, do the run, and cool down.
But instead of getting myself out the door, I sat around drinking coffee, while glancing at my watch occasionally. When I pulled out of the driveway, I realized I would have just enough time to get to the trail and do the run.
Of course, I failed to take road construction into consideration.
By the time I was sneakers on the ground, I was literally running late, which means, my warm-up was non-existent, which means, at 8 ½ miles, I had run out of time, and my knees were hurting.
It was at this point a light bulb switched on in my “learn it the hard way” noggin: every time my knees hurt, my muscles were tight.
There might be a correlation here.
Because I didn’t give myself enough time to properly warm up (which should have been a mile jog followed by light stretching), my knees suffered.
So, in my usual, human guinea pig style, I have vowed to try a proper warm up next time with stretching, and THEN begin my run, even if it means waking up with the chickens on a Saturday morning.
Only by doing a proper warm-up can I determine if my knees are paying the price for my own laziness, or if there is a real medical need to slink back to the physical therapist, tail between my legs.
In marathon training, it’s not the wind or the rain or even the mileage I’m fighting; it’s my own proclivity towards procrastination.
Time and time again, I willingly slide my toes into the warm, comfortable tar-pit of failure.
Because if I don’t give 100%, I can always say, “Well, I didn’t really try,” or “I needed more time,” or “I had to stop because my knees hurt [because of my own neglect].”
I know that people who do great things are those who commit themselves whole-heartedly. They give every ounce of their being to do something well. No excuses.
I get this.
I comprehend this on an intellectual level.
But it is incredibly difficult to lace shoes on it and go.
It is much easier to fail if you have an excuse.
What if you give not just what you think is your best attempt, but a genuine, 100%, to-the-point-of-collapse effort, and you still fall short of your goal?
That’s being human.
But that is the fear I must overcome—and soon.
I threw away half a bag of gummi bears.
They were fresh and soft, and I tossed them onto the coffee grounds and eggshells, without even indulging in “one more for the road.”
They smiled up at me, with little gummi arms outstretched, pleading, Why, Keri? Why this tragic end? We thought you loved us!
The act is now on my top ten list of “Hardest Things I’ve Ever Done.”
It was a big bag.
With all of the foods I have to avoid because of my gluten problem, I don’t like putting limitations on my diet, but the fact remains, junk food is bad for you—especially when you’re training for a marathon.
What was that?
During the initial five miles of my first marathon last year, I distinctly remember chanting, You’ll never have to do this again! You’ll never have to do this again!
So it seems strange to find myself trading jovial blobs of fruity scrumptiousness for 300 minutes of sweat a week.
I have given birth to four children (twice without drugs), and I can honestly say that completing a marathon is a lot like getting pregnant, which includes watching your body change in ways you never thought possible; climaxes in a ludicrous test of your pain threshold; and finally results in an event that astonishes bystanders.
People cheer for you, and make sure you’re hydrated, and take pictures of you when you could not possibly be more unphotogenic.
Though a race in no way compares to the miraculousness of bringing a tiny human into the world, the parallels are uncanny.
There are moments of joy and pain, fear and anticipation, endurance and reward—all at the same time. And postpartum, you think the labor is something you will never willingly endure again.
Then time goes by, and with it, the acuteness of the event grows soft and fuzzy around the edges. The entire event is bathed in warm, happy colors.
A friend tells you about a marathon she just ran, and your heart beats a little more quickly, causing a surge of excitement to well up in you.
Though you’re happy for her (since it was her first), you find yourself a little jealous; and you can’t help but think (to your own astonishment and perhaps, shame), I could do better than her.
“Yes! I could do it again!” swirls in your thoughts as you dig into that first big hill on your sunrise run.
After all, you’re a veteran now. You know the mistakes you made. You know what you would do differently. You know how you would prep for the big day.
The second time around gives you a chance to do things right.
A friend of mine described the love of mother for child as “fierce,” and it is true. God has wired women with an incredible amount of inner strength and endurance, which means a woman would fight to the death if need be, in order to defend her child.
This ferocity is inside of women, whether you have children or not.
If you dig down deep, you’ll find it there.
And if you tap into it, certain choices become a whole lot easier.
As for gummi bears…they can wait until this second labor is over.
Miles: I have run a total of 188 miles since 2011 began.
New This Time Around: Last year was pure survival, as my goal was to simply log the miles. This year I am actually doing the interval and stride workouts, and have begun the “Silver” training schedule in Claire Kowlachick’s book, The Complete Book of Running for Women.
Differences: My time, which was about a 10 minute mile (or more) average, was between 9:15 and 9:30 during my first scheduled week. Yep. I’m feeling stronger this year.
Worries: My knees, as always. I am not using the straps during short runs, because I don’t want my body to become dependent upon those things. I’d actually like to get healthy knees through strength training, muscle building, and stretching.
I am doing exercises like squats while lifting big cans of pineapple, and pushups off the counter while dinner is cooking (I hope no one peeks in the windows).
I am spending a lot more time warming up. I begin by walking for ½ to 1 mile before jogging. When I’m warmed up (depending on how cold it is), I begin my run. When I’m finished, I spend half an hour stretching. So far, it seems to be helping my knees.
Diet: avoiding candy, empty calories, sugar…staying in the Zone Diet as much as possible during training.
Weather: perfect for running, maybe a touch on the warm side lately. Heavenly Spring!
Name, Place & Due Date: Königschlösser Romantik Marathon, Füssen, Germany, July 24th.
The same marathon as last year, with a different runner.