Monday, November 21, 2011

Running...with excuses.

Where's Brea?  (Yes, I really am in this picture...)

Last week I had a crappy run.  Generally, in the midst of a bad run, I focus on my self-talk (that conversation I'm having with myself in my head).  I make sure I'm giving myself permission to slow down.  Sometimes I will say to myself "this doesn't feel good.  I am not enjoying this.  I will just make it x point/time/mileage and be proud of myself for going even though I really don't want to."  Sometimes I remind myself that this could be improving my life - or even giving me an "extra" day with my kids.  That might sound scared (or scary), but for me it is motivating; it makes me feel like I have a tiny bit of control over things that I have long accepted are almost entirely out of my control.  If my kidneys fail?  No regrets.  If I have a heart attack?  Clearly nothing else I could have done.

It generally keeps me going (it helps that, for the most part, I do enjoy running or I feel better after a mile or so).

This run was different, though.  I was about 2 miles in and found myself wanting to stop.  There was no negative self-talk - it was more like a conversation with my legs ("um...we're feeling good up here...why are you suddenly trying to hang out a few feet behind the rest of me?").  I thought perhaps I was expecting too much of myself after the unexpectedly fast race I'd run a few days before.  I kept telling myself "slow down.  Just relax into an easier pace."  I said out loud (yeah, I'm that lady) "ok.  Willpower.  I can use willpower to get home running."  And I found myself walking.  I told myself I would start running at a certain point ahead, and I ran for a few paces and couldn't keep going.  My legs felt like lead.  They just refused to turn over.

It was so odd - so unlike me.  I realized that night that it was potentially due to starting an additional and  new antihypertensive (blood pressure medication).  I switched when I was taking it so it might impact me less during my run.  The next day I felt better, but I got to thinking a little more about my nephrology (kidney) appointment, which had been chaotic.

No, that's an understatement.  The doctor was running almost an hour behind, and I had arrived with both kids in tow (after a 1.5-hour drive) about 20 minutes early.  So it was over an hour between getting into the office and seeing the doctor.  Dr. K. and I were basically yelling so we could hear each other over my roaring dino-schooler and my whining toddler.  At one point they were fighting and pushing each other on the back side of the exam table, and A-Train ended up wedged under the exam table.  The doctor mostly laughed (he has four kids) and was really supportive and complimentary of my handling of it all.  But he did very much stress that I have to make sure I am taking care of myself - I have to rest, drink water, make sure I am taking my medication regularly, keep to my diet, and keep up with exercise.

As I was running and thinking about the appointment (and laughing about it in hindsight), I got to thinking about all the reasons I prioritize running and taking care of myself.

1) I feel good afterward (and often during).
2) I will do everything I can to not put my children through what I went through in losing my mother so young.
3) It likely keeps my kidneys healthier longer, so that my quality of life (not just length of life) is as good as can be for as long as possible.
4) I am really unpleasant if I go too many days without vigorous exercise - it makes me a better mother, friend, and person!

My kids.  My husband.  My mom.  My doctor's orders - my doctor has given me some form of a "take care of yourself" lecture at every appointment since Bean was born.  When I don't, stuff shows up in my labs.  (I'm going to interject here that, as a kidney patient, when you talk about "labs" you are talking about blood and urine.  So you have been warned - I am about to talk about my pee.)  For example, when A-Train was a few months old, my nephrologist admonished me for having overly-concentrated urine.  *ahem*  I was dehydrated and that is bad news for kidneys.  And if I'm not taking care of myself and my blood pressure is elevated, he wants to know if I need to de-stress or if he needs to put me on more medications (it was determined this last appointment that I needed more medication.  *sigh*  My actual lab numbers are stable or improved, though!)

Anyway, I got to thinking that these act like excuses for me to say I have to do things for myself.  I can't make the excuse "no big deal!  I'll do it tomorrow!"  Of course, every now and then I skip a run - other things take priority, or I feel like I am running myself ragged and sleep would do my body more good than an early morning run.  But I always get back to it, and I get anxious if I can't work in exercise for more than a few days.  That anxiety is, I think, coming from multiple places - I need the endorphins from exercise, I need to mentally feel like I am doing what I can for my health (so, admittedly, a place of fear), and I need that quiet time (read: away from the kids!).

In any case, I am consciously taking my training goals down a notch to account for the possibility that this medication is draining my energy (I should adjust just in time to potentially have the dose doubled.  Eh.).  I have one more 5K and then I will do cross training and maintenance runs through the winter.  I'm not aiming to best my time from my last race.  I'm not even aiming to match it.  I'm aiming to run this next race in 27-ish minutes (about a minute slower per mile than my last).  And if I can't even do that?  Oh well.  I have a pretty good excuse!
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