“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

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!

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