“Perhaps the genius of ultrarunning is its supreme lack of utility. It makes no sense in a world of space ships and supercomputers to run vast distances on foot. There is no money in it and no fame, frequently not even the approval of peers. But as poets, apostles and philosophers have insisted from the dawn of time, there is more to life than logic and common sense. The ultra runners know this instinctively. And they know something else that is lost on the sedentary. They understand, perhaps better than anyone, that the doors to the spirit will swing open with physical effort. In running such long and taxing distances they answer a call from the deepest realms of their being — a call that asks who they are …”
– David Blaikie

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

7.5 Miles and a Bit More Perspective

Another run completed today.  My skin is shining and clear; I am standing up straighter; I have more energy; the mind fog has lifted.  Today, I listened to my music on shuffle and did not skip any songs.  I was in my zone - a happy place, comfortably jogging.  I did not time myself.  I did not set a pace. I stopped and took some pictures along the way...I explored.   I could have explored down the rabbit hole and ignored everything around me - lost in the tunnel of thoughts.  But, I gained a bit more perspective as I ran mindfully.  This is running free....

Today's Run: Distance:7.5 miles
Anxiety Level: 1
Biofeedback: Cruisin'
Pre-Run Thoughts:I am looking forward to a break from sitting behind the computer!
Intra-Run Thoughts: So many creative ideas flowing - like the breeze today.
Post-Run Thoughts: My body is tired - and I am glad.  I have been struggling with falling asleep at night - being tired is what I crave.  My soul is refreshed.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Bone Crossroads

Oh, how I wish I could be that person standing there amongst the changing leaves and cooler temperatures.  I actually found this photo whilst building a website for a colleague.   It takes me back to being a little kid, living in the suburbs of Chicago.

Unfortunately, the weather is not cooler.  It is not pretty either.  I live in a suburb north of Dallas, Texas, and it has been a rainy, nasty day today.  I am, however, grateful that Hurricane Harvey was not as awful as it was originally projected. But, enough about the weather...

Today was the third day of easing back into running.  I can honestly say that I am back at it and have found my comfortable stride, gait, posture, and cadence, that I once had.  A major difference during this type of training is that I am incorporating heavy weight lifting and stretching.  I cannot afford to have my bones take a beating as they have in the past.

In November of 2014, I was diagnosed with Osteopenia.  After having my Dexa Scan come back and actually see my bones on the cusp of Osteoporosis, I had to make a conscious and drastic change.  Exclusively running was not an asset to longevity as far as my bones and musculature were concerned.  It is embarrassing to think that my profession for ten years or so was personal fitness training, yet I did not keep practicing this philosophy shortly after my last ultra in 2012.  I tossed weight training to the side, adopted yoga from time to time, and continued to hit the hills and run myself into the ground.  I had a few hard falls that caused some damage in my hips, which was where the most damage was located on my bones. I was the poster girl for the Female Athlete Triad.

In March of 2015, after a few sobering months of a reality check, I signed up to partake in a Crossfit class.  I was terrified to show up.  I was not in the best shape, as this was shortly after I was forced to stop running.  I was still in the midst of learning how to feel feelings and not use running to numb them.  I cried and sent an email to the owner of the local Crossfit Box (as they call their facilities) trying to back out.  I had been vulnerably honest and told her my situation beforehand, so she promised me that they would make the necessary modifications to help me re-learn the form.  I felt better and went to Ironwood Crossfit the next morning.  I tested my squat, and was able to lift 65 pounds, max - one time.  I was weak and needed so much work in order to get my bones back to health.

I started working with an Exercise Therapist, who I work with again today!  She taught me that I was so much stronger.  I started lifting, heavily, I started to watch Layne Norton, PhD, videos and learn more about the role of nutrition in healing, lifting weights, and for mental clarity.  I stumbled upon Avatar Nutrition, which has been a crucial component to my physical and mental healing.  I had always labeled food as "good" or "bad"...and with this service and these amazing people, I have learned that food has absolutely no moral value.  I learned how to balance fueling myself as well as eat the things I enjoy...the foods that I used to avoid at all costs, and then completely binge in hiding, then go run twenty miles.

In January of 2016, I had a follow up Dexa Scan. I was told to wait a full year before having one.  I was so nervous.  I hoped that all the work I'd put in had halted the breakage, or at the very least, delayed the regression of my bone health.  I remember sitting in the cafeteria of the hospital after having that scan, thinking, did I do everything in my power for my bones over the past year?  A wave of emotion poured over me and I realized that I did, in fact, do all that I could have done.  The technician mentioned that it would be 5-7 business days before I would receive the results.  However, my doctor sent them to me that afternoon: 

No evidence of Osteopenia.

I could not believe what I read, so I called my doctor's office and spoke to her directly.  She was ecstatic.  I had worked my ass off in the gym, nourishing my body and mind, and it all paid off. I had successfully reversed Osteopenia - and at age 36!  When I went to my follow up appointment the next week, she gave me a hug and told me that she had never had a patient reverse it as I had!

Today, I am still lifting weights.  My squat max is now 235# and I am still getting stronger. Daily, I have to  remind myself that my bone and mental health can slip right back into the danger zone, if I do not take care of myself.  I know that it can all be taken away in a second and never be given back.  I had to experience my health and wellness being taken away from me; a "learned the hard way" type of lesson I chose to learn from and never experience again.  I see other signs of aging now that do not involve my bone health.  I see white shiny hairs on my head and new lines around my smile and my eyes.  These are not annoying or flaws as society wants us to believe.  They are daily reminders that I have been given the privilege to actually grow older, when at times in the past, I did not think I would make it another moment.  Embrace life and all the evidence that say that you are living it!

Take care of yourselves!

Today's Run:
Distance: 4.1 miles
Anxiety Level: 3
Biofeedback: All systems "go"!
Pre-Run Thoughts: Should I stay or should I go? :)
Intra-Run Thoughts: I am so grateful.
Post-Run Thoughts: I have so much shit to get done today (this is where the anxiety went from a 1 to a 3).

Know your T-score for bone health!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Awareness is the New Euphoria

"Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness...." -James Thurber

If I could ingrain this quote into my subconscious mind, fore-consciousness, and all the other consciousness I may possess, that would be grrreaatttt.  How do you relate to these words?  Let's let Robyn's inner high school English teacher out of the box for a second and break this quote down into parts:

"Let us not look back in anger...":  When I look back into the past at hurtful, or anger-provoking memories, how does that serve me in the present?  Since this is a running blog, after all, I will relate it to the topic at hand.  If I look back at the level of running I used to perform (at the surface level) there were some awesome achievements made - and for good causes.  The fact is that I ran very long distances (marathons and beyond) for quite a while (officially and unofficially).  The memories are a different experience because they are that delusional grey area between facts and thoughts - oh, and throw time in there to blur some of those facts and thoughts, because why the heck not, right?!

When I was forced to take some time off, I felt like my heart had been ripped from my chest - I actually had physical and emotional withdrawals, which I will never go through again, thank you very much!  During that time, I felt excruciatingly hurt, which was masked heavily as anger.  I counted down the days until I could run again.  The day finally arrived, and I couldn't get my running shoes on fast enough.  I ran with my exercise therapist next to me on a treadmill.  I had written a journal the day before about how euphoric I would feel once I could run again!  But...guess what?  It was not euphoric.  It just was.  I ran a little longer - waiting for that high to hit and for me to blast off and feel like I was running on a cloud, numb and void of feeling all biofeedback and emotions.  Buzz kill:  it did not happen that way.  I just ran a few miles, hit "STOP" on the treadmill and carried on with my day.  I was puzzled and confused because it was not how I had remembered.  Sure, it felt nice to get the lungs and legs working hard and my heart pumping, but that numbing sensation was absent. 

Depending on how you read that last sentence, it may make you sad, or it may make you think, "Hey, I really need to get to that point because right now, I have to run otherwise I feel my emotions way too much and they are too difficult for me to handle, so I run...and thus, the Merry-Go-Round keeps spinning.  

"...nor forward in fear..." Now that I have allowed a plethora of time to lapse in between being the running addict and breaking up with the addict part, I look forward to what is to come.  It has been almost three years since that day I got on the treadmill and was reintroduced to running again with a healthier mindset.  THREE YEARS.  Before this point in this crazy journey, I would look fearfully into the future when running was mentioned or considered: fear of never being able to run again; fear of not being a credible coach or source for running information; fear of judgment of never running enough.  That fear gave birth to anxiety, which often happens when we look too far into the future.  I have worked very diligently on creating the balance that I personally need in order to have it back in my life.  I handle anxiety in other ways that do not include running - we need to feel those emotions; become emotional wave surfing legends!  Surfers cannot be numb...

"....but around in awareness...." I make sure to take inventory of biofeedback, thoughts, and anxiety level before I set foot outside and consider running.  This is an important process for me, and one that I must stay hyper-aware of.  Running liberated means being aware of surroundings, all senses being utilized, and the thoughts that ebb and flow.  One of the purest aspects of running is the ability to think of anything, everything, or nothing while you run.  It has been one of my favorite parts of the sport.  I heard a beautiful analogy once about thoughts:  Imagine yourself at an airport luggage carousel.  You are an inspector, of sorts.  There are many suitcases and packages slowly passing by.  You can choose to stare at one, study it, even open it if you dare, but YOU have the power to choose.  Those suitcases may be full of memories, amazing clothing from all over the world, or they could be filled with trash, spoiled food, or dangerous, poisonous, items.  YOU have the power to choose!  The suitcases and packages are your thoughts.  You can choose to inspect them closely or let them drift on by.  Most likely, you will see some of those packages pass by again - and you will need to practice that awareness as to which ones you decide to inspect.  This is awareness....

All in all, I hope someone reads this and gains a bit more awareness, which, in turn, will give that individual more power over thoughts. It is truly liberating.  

Day Two of Running:
Miles: 3
Anxiety Level (1=none, 10=debilitating): 2
Biofeedback:  Calves are tight, so better to stretch first...but at least they are not screaming!
Pre-Run Thoughts: It is going to rain and how awesome will that be!  I used to love running around in the rain!
Intra-Run Thoughts:  I actually listened to the Armed Forces Cadences today for good footfalls and stride.  I sang along so the thoughts were minimal.
Post-Run Thoughts:  Simply grateful and blessed to have a strong body and the ability to run - and feel.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Sing it, Willie - I am On the Road Again.

Today is DAY ONE of easing my way back into running long distances.  Why?  I want to prove that once you break through the emotional sediment, there is a gold mine of opportunities to truly enjoy the things you used to enjoy - before the thought storm took over and left everything in shambles.

Exercise addiction is a curious thing.   I went to many "Anon" meetings, trying to relate to the addiction piece, but this addiction was so much more complicated to explain in these meetings.  Many addicts and alcoholics turn to exercise to fill the void.  What do exercise addicts turn to?  Alcohol and drugs?  Sometimes they do....

I have worked very hard - and mindfully - to be able to get to the point that I can include running back into my life regularly.

If you find that you are ready to start running again after a hiatus due to injury or medical complication (or life throwing poo at you and, in retaliation, you throw an epic pity party, oh, wait, is that just me?) follow along as I get back on the road.  If you find that running IS your life and you cannot properly function as a human being, please take inventory of WHY you run.

Day One Complete:  4.2 miles
Anxiety (scale of 1 = none to 10 = debilitating): 2
Biofeedback (what my body tells me during the run): Hey, this feels pretty good - but tomorrow your calves are going to wake you up in the midst of your deep slumber and want some major attention, "Charlie Horse!"
Pre-Run Thoughts: Hell, why not!?
Intra-Run Thoughts: Did I forget to blow out the candle?  Did I lock the door?
Post-Run Thoughts: I am  glad I am writing this - documenting it for myself and others.

Monday, August 7, 2017

It's Been A Minute or Two...

Hello!  Helllloooooo!  Echooooo....echooooo.....!  It has been quite some time since this running blog has been updated with fabulous (and cringe-worthy) running experiences.  I am happy to be writing again.  Whether you have stumbled upon this blog because you were searching for a race report, or you are interested in a unique 24 hour treadmill experience, or you heard about that lady who ran 100 miles when she was still breastfeeding her twins and wanted to check it out for yourself, I welcome you.

I am finishing up creating a unique and thought-provoking form of coaching runners called Liberation Running which has helped me immensely during my hiatus from the long distance running scene.  I am currently coaching beginners as well as very advanced runners, and everyone in between!  I am honored to be able to apply my experience to help others reach goals - and avoid the costly mistakes I have made in the past! 

Please check out the tabs above to learn more about my personal running experience, my favorite charities, and coaching styles.

Again, I welcome you - and hope to see you out on the road someday soon!