Body Love PR

just hands belly bw

Summer is my time to dive deep into my training, whether it’s Nia or running. I thrive in warmer weather and, more importantly, have lots of time and energy because I’m on break from my full-time job teaching at CNM. 

This summer I immersed myself in running. I joined two running groups, met new people, went for runs in different parts of town. I set big goals: to PR (a personal record time or personal best) in 3 distances — the 5K, 10K, and half-marathon.

That half should have been the easy one. I had raced only once before, two years ago, and injured myself three weeks before the race. I ran a conservative pace, finishing in just under two hours. I learned from that experience that I needed to do some running-specific strength training. I was delighted that this strength translated to better Nia technique. 

I learned so much this summer. I’m still digesting it all. 

I learned that I need to eat smaller meals and do so more slowly because my digestion post-menopause is more challenged. When my running increased to over 30 miles a week, I needed more fuel. I don’t know is if my metabolism slowed or if I was frantically shoving in calories, but I gained weight once my training intensity increased. I interpreted this as a message: my body wasn’t thriving on the additional running miles. It isn’t terrible to gain or lose weight. Our systems, though, seek equilibrium and when a balance is upset, I need to look to see if it’s a positive change or a sign of some distress. My gut intuition is that the additional stress of additional running was more than I could happily handle. 

In spring, my digestive upset sometimes followed me into my run and at least twice I had to stop running due to gut pain. This led to fear. I eventually worked out how much to eat and drink in the morning (not much) and how long before running to do so. I seemed to be fine most runs. If my gut started talking to me on the run, I talked back: “it’s okay, calm down, nothing to do now while we’re running, I promise you can come back online in a bit.”

Longer runs presented a bigger challenge. On runs over 90 minutes, it can help to take in some fuel and water. I didn’t want to wake up my GI tract, so I usually just gutted out the run. It seemed to work. I practiced gulping some Tail Wind, a rehydration drink with a bit of sugar, but I rarely took in more than two ounces during the run. Really, I seemed to be fine. 

In July, I injured my calf on a long run. I had done too many miles and too many fast hard workouts in too short a time period. Though I cut way back on my training and received a variety of healing treatments, some of the pain wasn’t resolving. It was worse after Nia then after a run, though, and I thought I’d be fine to race the half-marathon. 

I wasnt fine on the race. Around 11.5 miles, my calf seized up with a sharp pain. I could walk but couldnt run. Once in my car, I finished the Tail Wind and then had a protein and cucumber smoothie on my drive home. I felt nauseous, which is unusual for me post-run. I drank a bit of water and ate a bunch of food and hung out with friends, which strengthened me. I rested, iced a bit, and took arnica each hour. I noticed at some point that I was peeing less than usual. By evening, I couldnt walk. I took a hot bath with epsom salts, cuddled with my husband for a while (best medicine ever), and slept. 

I woke this morning knowing my error. What had worked for me in training runs — taking in only a few gulps of fluid — wasn’t sufficient when I was running a hard pace over concrete and asphalt with my adrenaline pumping. Though it was a cool morning, I remember noticing how much I was sweating early on. After giving myself the first five miles to settle into my groove, we had been averaging an 8 minute per mile pace over the next 5 miles, and it was getting more difficult for me to hold that. I realize now that I needed more fluids and sooner because the racing demands were so much higher than on a training run. 

I have some regret over this error, of course, but also a sense of satisfaction: I figured out what happened. I got the lesson. My analytical mind really enjoys this aspect of training. I’d rather choose to feel satisfied than regretful. 

I love being very active. I confirmed this summer that I’m happy to do a workout in the morning and again in the afternoon. I love being able to do some very hard workouts.  I am not nearly as happy to rest. I am especially unhappy to take time off to heal when I want to be walking, hiking, dancing, and running.

This summer I learned that I don’t enjoy the super long runs. I’m good to about 10 miles, which is under the 90 minute threshold. I would get anxious before a long run. I would get whiny and cranky on the run. It felt like work. That is not why I run. 

This summer I learned that I could survive a really bad race. I’m sad, a bit embarrassed, but I’m also relieved to be done with it. 

Sometimes it’s great to take what we’ve learned and go back to do better. If I enjoyed the training for this distance, I’d be all over that possibility. But I don’t enjoy the training, so I’m done. This summer I learned I could fail at a goal and be okay with it.

Before the race, I had promised my body we wouldn’t race that distance again. I don’t always succeed at self-love and body love. I fuss over my weight, my belly. I am frustrated with my digestion. Because surgical menopause means for me lower levels of both estrogen and testosterone than most women my age, I bring fear and even negative talk. I have worried that I will get less strong every year. The reality is that this year Im stronger than last year. Its possible I can be just as strong or even stronger next year.  Fear wont help me be stronger. If Im not stronger next year, thats okay too. Being afraid isnt okay. 

It is a high level of self-love that allows me to let go of a performance goal in order to honor my body’s needs. It is a supreme honor to listen to my body and respect what I hear. This summer I learned another way to love my body. 

I keep in my calendar a sentiment that I want to be sure to look at throughout the month. I move this from one week to the next. It says: “I want to be hopeful, not stuck in the past. I want unconditional love in my relationship with my body. Less attachment, more trust.” I inched my way closer to that this summer. Body Love PR.