Running to B’More

I’m sore today. As if I just raced hard yesterday. The kind of sore that comes after an almost-half-marathon distance race. I ran the Charles Street 12 Miler through Baltimore, Maryland.

Mileage: 12 miles

Average pace: 10:52 (per watch); 10:59 (per chip time)

Elevation gain: 549 feet

Calories burned: 1,849

Steps: 20,542

I’ve been out of the groove of writing race reports for some time. For a long time, as readers know, I was out of the running and racing loop in general due to some health issues. I raced the Marine Corps Marathon last fall after a tenuous relationship with training. I was exhausted all the time, and I chalked it up to beginning a new teaching position, coaching Girls on the Run, and teaching a college class in the evening. Sure, all those things can make a girl tired, but I wasn’t diagnosed with hypothyroidism until February, a few months after the marathon was over.

However, this fall I’m training for the Philadelphia Marathon and this training cycle is SO. MUCH. BETTER. I feel rested, I’m recovering faster, I don’t feel so anxious and overwhelmed, my eating is more on track, and I don’t have horrible cravings for junk 100% of the time like last cycle. Here are a few things I think are directly related to how great I’m feeling this time around.

  • Finding a thyroid treatment right for me. I started out on thyroid medication in February. I had bloodwork done in May and my numbers weren’t quite where the doc wanted them so he increased my dosage. I had more bloodwork last month and he was very pleased with my TSH and with the dissipation of my symptoms. I go back in February for another checkup.
  • Learning how to say ‘no’ to too many obligations. This has been a hard lesson for me. I grew up as a people pleaser, an approach to life that can cultivate some good qualities for being in a service profession such as teaching, but it has caused me to wear myself out and neglect important self-care. This fall I’ve pared down my responsibilities outside of work. Saying ‘no’ is hard at first, but in the end it feels so much better.
  • Getting my diet on track. After a painful ovarian cyst rupture in June, which made me rethink my health in general, I decided to see if dairy and/or gluten bother me. Turns out that dairy (the more raw the worse it is) really bothers me, so in general I’ve cut out cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, cream cheese, half-and-half, and adding cheese to meals. It’s helped immensely. Everything’s more regular (ahem), I have fewer headaches, and I am forced to eat a bit cleaner.
  • Hydrating like a mofo. I drink at least 8 oz of water right when getting up. I usually take a water bottle when we take our dog for a walk, and I don’t drink (decaf) coffee until after I get at least 16 oz. Then I’m drinking throughout the day – in the car, in my office, at lunch, etc.
  • Eliminating most caffeine. Anyone who knows me knows I live on coffee and have since I was about 12. But I know this stimulant can mess with adrenal function and also irritate the stomach. So I’ve cut out most of it. I still drink decaf coffee, but I’ve grown to love some caffeine-free herbal teas as well. Some of my favorites as of right now are rooibos, chamomile lavender, and Traditional Medicinal’s Healthy Cycle. I’m also feeling way less anxious throughout the day.
  • Reducing alcohol intake to 4 drinks per week. It’s amazing how fresh and awake I feel if I skip even just one glass of wine the night before. After awhile, I don’t want alcohol as much because I know how I’ll feel, and I want to feel good.
  • Having a positive mindset about running. To be honest, cutting things out of my diet isn’t that difficult – I know my headaches and GI issues were tied to mostly dietary factors that I can control, so once I felt good I knew going back to old habits would make me feel bad. But coaching my mind to be kind during a workout proved to be more difficult. I do try to hit certain paces and mileage per week, but if I miss a run or don’t hit a goal pace, I don’t freak out about it. Running is a hobby and it should be fun. I bust my ass all day at work and so running shouldn’t feel like ┬ásecond job, but an outlet and therapy.
  • Yoga. Yoga. Yoga. Yoga. I’ve never practiced yoga regularly before, but I now attend probably 7-10 classes per month, give or take. I’ve noticed more muscle definition, a calmer attitude, and my form doesn’t suck towards the end of my runs. I’m also starting to incorporate yoga-ish stretches before and after running.

I’ve turned a corner in my physical and mental health 31 has been innumerably better than years past. I’m looking forward to the rest of marathon training and hopefully PR-ing at Philly.