Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Doctor's orders

I've started to write this post so many times. In fact, there are about 5 versions of it saved as drafts in my blogger account. I really wasn't sure about where to go with what I was feeling, physically and mentally, and all the different posts reflected the various different things going through my head.

Because my running has not been going so great. This past weekend I had to face the fact that in the first 5 weeks of this training program I have never, not once week, hit the mileage I was meant to. Most weeks I was a few miles short but every week there was at least one workout I could not complete. My stomach ache has not got worse but not got better either. And I am exhausted. Just worn out. I have been dragging myself out onto the road. And dragging myself through my workouts. I found myself on an evening, about 10 days ago, lacing up my shoes and saying to my husband that I really didn't want to go for a run. "Well don't then" he said. And I said to him that I had to. If I didn't run, I told him, I wasn't a runner anymore, and if I wasn't a runner anymore then I don't know who I am. This statement just burst out of me and I was so shocked I headed out straight for my run. But that thought keeps coming back to me. Is it true? Do I think it's true? What do I mean by it?

You all know me by now. I am the girl who never did any exercise, who ended up living in the countryside with a husband and two tiny children, not working, overweight and somehow, amazingly, I started to run. Very slowly, but I did it. I threw myself at WeightWatchers, for the umpteenth time but for the first time while exercising, and it worked. I lost weight I had been hanging onto for a decade, and more, and found myself in the course of this. I started running races, ran my first marathon (4:55), started blogging and found this incredible world out there of other runners. Running has transformed me, physically but also very much mentally. It has sustained me through some very tough times and has given me something to feel good about when I've felt I was achieving very little in other parts of my life. It is the thing people know about me. When they see me they ask me what event I'm training for, how many marathons I've run and I proudly tell them. I also tell them that if I can do it, so can they.

Through all the various stuff that has gone in my life, particularly in the last year, running and being a runner has helped me to stay the course, to feel worthwhile and valuable. I could tell, in the past week, that my training was not on course. But I felt utterly incapable of knowing what to do with myself without it.

Then I went to the doctor's for the results of my tests this morning. And relax - there's nothing too serious going on. My tests came back negative so I'm going to have a scan to check out what is going on with this mild but persistent pain in my lower abdomen. While I was there I got chatting to my lovely GP, who is a runner and a mother and who I really like, and we checked out my iron levels again. Which are still very very low despite the fact that I've been taking iron levels on and off for a year now. I told her I was exhausted and feeling very rundown and she told me that with my iron levels where they are she is not surprised. My body is constantly trying to replenish its diminished stores and trying to push myself to run 50+ miles a week is right now asking too much of it. I said to her that I had been thinking that maybe, just maybe, I should not run my planned marathon in September and she just told me straight that she thought I shouldn't. I shouldn't train that hard, and shouldn't push myself that hard, with my body in the condition it's in at the moment. She said I was ignoring what my body was telling me (true) and that, if I made it across the finish line at all without giving up halfway, my recovery would be very very long. Our priority right now, is to do something more constructive and long term about the anaemia (for once, I'll spare you the TMI but I'm pretty certain I know why I'm anaemic and how to resolve it - it's just a bit, well, involved).

On the way back I phoned Dawn. My BFF who totally understands me and the state I'm in - and why this all matters so much. She realises how much of my identity is caught up in my not only being a runner, but a marathoner. And how hard it is to let that go, even for a while. But she pointed out that if I got things sorted in the next few months I would have plenty of time to train for Boston. And be a much stronger runner when I'm out there.

So I'm ditching the Robin Hood marathon for this year. I'm taking a step back. I'm not giving up on running but for now, I'm going to be running 5-10 milers. I like being fit and I want to stay out there, but I'm benched for this marathon season.

I'm okay with this. Apart from anything, I'm so tired. I'm not missing those sloggy 14 milers. But I will miss you all - feeling a part of it. I'll miss running a marathon this autumn. I'll, basically, feel left out. But I'm a big girl - don't feel sorry for me. I'm going to get over myself, follow you guys and cheer you along. I'm saving myself for Boston..

13 comments:

Emz said...

this post is awesome.

Thank you for being so real about all of this. I am just so happy to have "met" you. You ARE inspiring. You ARE a RUNNER. You are AWESOME.

See YOU in Boston. :)

Road Warrior said...

Your doctor is wise and you're a wise runner for listening to her. There's no sense in sustaining an injury that will take you so much longer and make you so much more miserable as you recover from.

I'll join you in the non-marathon running group this fall. Unlike you, I'm not disappointed to be a part of the group. :)

marty said...

dear petra, glad to hear that you are getting good professional and friendly advice. Keep ticking over til you're ready to push on. the most important considerations are (a) petra rests up a bit and gets mojo extra back and (b) uses it fit and firing in boston.simples

Runner Susan said...

I miss running, I need to step it up. You are smart to listen to you doctor! Can she tell me the same thing?

Tricia said...

hang in there hun

Jill said...

Awe...you have me in tears practically. I think I'm in your same boat, with my heel. Will know more after I return from SF in a couple weeks but I totally understand where you're coming from. It's not your time right now to run a marathon...it's your time to heal your cute little petite body and get it strong and healthy for Boston! You sit that awesome award right next to your bedstand as reminder of the strong, determined girl you are so when you come back, you come back fighting and in the very best frame of mind and physically ready to attack all that you need to!

Big hug to you, girl!

And I will email you here shortly about your ?? from you post on my blog. Thank you for your very kind words...you always make me smile!! :)

Her Name is Rio said...

You are smart for listening to both your doctor and yourself. You ARE a runner!

jen said...

I admire your decision and I know it wasn't easy. I have a feeling that taking somewhat of a break from running is going to bring out a lot of other great things in your life that have been on the back burner. You are awesome. I can't wait to see you!!! :)

ShirleyPerly said...

I'm proud of you for making the decision, Petra. Some may disagree but I believe being a runner is not something that is measured in how many miles you run, how fast you run or what races you run. It's what's in your heart. If you took away all the distractions and things that people do to motivate themselves to run (Garmin, MP3s, races, coaches, food, etc), would you still run simply because you enjoy it? If the answer is yes, IMO, you're a runner.

Tara said...

Smart decision lady! Take care of yourself and everything will fall into place! I want to be everywhere and do everything and I have realized this year that it's best to take time for yourself when you need it and that marathons and running will always be there! ♥

aron said...

i know this was not an easy decision for you, but from the past couple months of posts this is definitely the RIGHT decision. take some time, have fun, get healthy, ENJOY running again, then you will come back with a new fire in you for boston. even if you aren't training for a marathon you ARE still a runner and never doubt that for a second. (((hugs)))

Drusy said...

Petra, tonight's Runners Round Table is all women and its on Overtraining. (not that there's any chance that I'll be a vicitm!) but I've been reading up to prepare.....and then I read your blog. You've got ALL the signs. and your doc has give the best advice! Log in to the chatroom if you're around at 9pm on Wed.
Hang in there! Toni

lizzie lee said...

Oh dear, I didn't know anything about this. I hope you get better soon, and if there is anybody that can understand you, you know... that's me!!! That's what I did in 2009 when I was dealt those terrible cards. I forgot about a marathon, and dedicated the whole season to speed. Participated in 24 races, all 5K/10K and one half, and I got in great shape for the 2010 spring marathon.

Much love across the Atlantic...

sincere-lee
lizzie lee