I love to run outside on the many trails we have in the Kansas City area. And, I love to stop and take pictures while I run. I know that doesn't sound like hard core training.
Run. Stop. Take a photo. Run. Stop. Take a photo.
Some days, you just need to do what feeds your soul.
I've had several medical challenges the last few years, most recently being diagnosed with breast cancer. I had a bi-lateral mastectomy and chemo two years ago, and all is good now. What people don't always realize though is that the effects of a cancer diagnosis can live on, long beyond the official treatment.
I wanted to be able to just flip a switch and start running and training hard core the minute I walked out of that final chemo session. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. It's taken a good two years for me to feel like my brain works. The courses I am developing were not even an option a year ago because I couldn't concentrate, or even string together a series of complete thoughts.
When my daughter applied to theater schools, which involves not just the college application, but also pre-screen videos, audition trips, hotel and airfare bookings and juggling the slots each school has available, it became a family project. My brain wasn't capable of even combing through college websites to find audition requirements and application deadlines.
And then, there is the hormone-blocking drug that those of us with hormone-positive breast cancers often have to take for five years to minimize the chance of recurrence. It makes my joints hurt. If I sit too long, like when I'm driving somewhere, I am in pain as I try to stand. I attempt to disguise the fact that I'm limping or walking slowly, as I wait for my body to warm up. I imagine if you could hear my joints, they would sound like a creaky old door.
This is not a pity-party, so don't take it that way. My cancer diagnosis forced me to slow down. Rather than focusing on the competitive aspects of running, triathlon, and training in general, I've had to step back and remember what I love about these activities.
I love training and racing and the competitive environment. But I also love the things I see while running. Running is the absolute best way to explore a new city. One of my favorite things to do is to get up early when we are on vacation and check out our surroundings. The last time we were in Hawaii, I saw a sea lion who was napping after a long swim across the ocean. There have also been times that I've run along a beach and stopped to talk with locals, and have found the very best breakfast joint that to drag my family to later. And, on foot, you can experience the seasons--the sweet smell of flowering trees in the spring, the changing of the leaves in the fall, the various challenges that come with winter running... and well... I love summer when I can be at the beach or by the pool, but I am struggling to think of summer's good qualities as they relate to running. (Maybe you can fill me in by typing some ideas into the comments!)
Another positive, if you can call anything related to cancer a positive, is that I felt like my body got old overnight due to the effects of the drugs. Not being one to give up easily, it's given me great perspective on what it feels like to be someone who is older, who wants to be active, but who feels limited by their body. I've had to work hard to discover ways to decrease the muscle and joint pain, and to keep my hips and ankles mobile.
I incorporate the exercises I do into the online courses I offer because they are good for all athletes who want longevity in the sport, but they are critical if you are an aging athlete.
I don't know if I will ever be able to get back to the paces I ran before this all hit me. It's still a dream to be able to qualify for and run Boston one day. But slowing down hasn't been all bad. I take the time to notice my surroundings and to be thankful for the beauty around me. If I feel like walking and taking pictures, that's what I do. If I feel like stopping to watch a deer walk across a field along side a construction project, I do.
I suppose the biggest change is that I focus more on the activities that feed my soul.
By now, we should all know that it's important to move every day. Run. Walk. Hike. Cycle. Swim. Walk your dog. Do something. Just move. If you want help finding something you love, shoot me an email. If you'd like to learn to walk or run your first 5K, or to complete your first half marathon, check out my virtual run club!
*The video above is me talking about my online courses, and how excited I was to spot this deer on my run the other day.
Get my latest tips and tricks, and learn about upcoming courses and training opportunities. You have the POWER to create a wonderful, fit life!