We never know where life is going to take us or what challenges it brings. In January 2010 I was happy, so happy I wanted to stay that way for as long as I could. I realised that if Ali and I wanted a long and healthy life together, we had to change. I was clinically obese, had a bad back and my knees were feeling the strain. I had various health problems and I was ageing faster than my years. I looked ahead to a life I did not want. It was time to change. By the end of the year I had lost 4 stone - 56lbs. My confidence rocketed - I had taken control and it had worked. I was exercising, enjoying buying clothes, speaking up for myself.

I began to believe in myself again, I began to dream. For years I had watched marathons with admiration and a lump in my throat. In April 2013, I ran my first marathon.

This blog is about living life as a slim person, staying slim and fulfilling my dreams. Come and join me, support me, advise me!

Take care, Sue

Sunday, 15 January 2012

In Recovery - Ready to run .....

A word that's been very much part of my life over the last few weeks is recovery, specifically recovering to run.  For some folk, they get injured, they get better and that's it. But for many of us it's a more complex and less certain process. And it's hard.

Here's what the dictionary says:

Recovery:  a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.  The action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost. Also  recovery shot - golf stroke bringing the ball from the rough or from a hazard back onto the fairway or the green. Football an act of taking possession of a fumbled ball. In rowing, cycling, or swimming, the action of returning the paddle, leg, or arm to its initial position ready to make a new stroke.

There's lots of good stuff in here that inspires me and captures the recovery process for me. Of course it's all about getting back to normal, but I like the idea of taking back control, regaining strength. I like also that it's physical and mental, that recovery is an end and a beginning.  

The definition sounds so positive and active and I need to be more positive about recovery; about my eventual return to running. I need to focus on getting ready to run.

A huge part of my recovery is about regaining confidence. When I first get an injury I am very cautious and self protective. I'm a catastrophic thinker - something happens and I immediately extrapolate the graph to the end of the world. It's a well know psychological problem you'll be glad to know.  So I worry terribly that the injury is going to get worse. I worry that some small movement, slip, accident, knock, will send me hurtling down that ladder; straight to jail, no passing go and it will be really serious this time. I was listening to Desert Island disks where an ex ballet dancer spoke about her ballet injury and how she needed someone she trusted to hold her hand and encourage her to dare to tackle the move that injured her. The confidence to take that risk was a critical part of her recovery. 

So this week, having found the positive things about not running, i.e. enjoying the here and now; I've been focussing on the future; on taking back control and getting a positive running-focussed mindset.  

My strategy is to start off with some easy risk free actions and move up from there SLOWLY - no frightening the horses. Here's what I've done since I last blogged:
  • Deleted my old training schedule from my iPhone and calendars
  • Done one hour of some kind of exercise every day - including physio, balance; upper body exercises and Pilates. 
  • Practiced walking properly - very, very slowly
  • Tried to drive - and stopped - ouch! even the thought of an emergency stop hurts
  • Changed my thinking as I go down our stairs from re-living the ping to imaging I'm fixed and heading out for a nice long run
  • Bought a mini bicycle machine to get those quads working until I can drive to the gym/pool and some new Pilates and workout DVDs 
  • Got (and used!) a foam roller and compression tights
  • Begun to think whether I want to risk running the Barcelona Marathon even if I am fit or wait until the autumn
Acting positive, even when I didn't really feel like it, really helped. I've gradually upped my risk taking, pushed the calf a bit, but not too much. I'm more in control and recovery is becoming an active thing, not just sitting on my bum (although I am doing a lot of that!).  

I'm surprised how tired I feel. Sometimes I focus on the loss of my Barcelona dream, of my fitness and those good running days stolen from me. Sometimes I'm sad; lost in the rough or abandoned in the sandpit as my running chums do a hole in one and are back in the Twitter clubhouse comparing notes. But that's neither use nor ornament as we say in Yorkshire and of course fine words butter no parsnips!

Recovery, just like running and any other challenge we set ourselves, is about mental strength, discipline and persistence. When I was dieting, I dealt with setbacks (eating the entire tub of ice cream; a nice bottle of Rioja) by just getting back onto the diet and not looking back. Usually I recovered my confidence, focus and drive to lose weight pretty quickly and easily. I need to do the same now for my running, but I don't have quite the control of the biological side of things!

The challenges of recovery are different for every one of us.  I'm a wimp. I need courage to take risks that might well make my injury a bit worse.  Other folk need the discipline not to run with an injury. I need to stop analysing how it all happened and focus on the future. Others need to spend longer learning from what went wrong before they look ahead. What is clear is that recovery is not easy for any of us, it tests us mentally and spiritually and so, like our damaged muscles, can make us stronger.

As I type, I have done my first set of very light calf raises and survived. That was really scary. I still can't walk very well or very far, but it will come.  Will I be able to make up over 2 months lost training and get fit to run a marathon in about 8 weeks when I can't even walk to the train station? Not sure yet, but whatever happens, all will sooner or later be fine.

This post is dedicated to everyone in recovery, whatever your challenge is. May you find the strength, courage, determination and wisdom to get through. And more than anything else, the hope and belief that you will get there.

Take care