Running Down a Half Marathon
Since August, I have been training for a half marathon.
I have been so focused on shifting my diet, that I haven’t talked about this training in my blogging because there hasn’t been anything to report. I got the idea in my head back in July after meeting with a health coach through our insurance company. She suggested that I come up with an exercise goal as a means of getting healthier in the long term. Before getting pregnant with Jai I used to run, and I made sure to get a running stroller so I could eventually get back into it while pushing him around.
And by run, I use the term extremely liberally. I am more of a jogger, and with my short legs you could make the argument that I am a fast walker. I get my heart rate up and that’s all that matters to the experts.
Regardless of my personal speed, I had done a half marathon before my diagnosis and knew that it would be the perfect goal to push for intense training. It wasn’t long after I settled on a half marathon at the end of October that I received the good news about my MRI and made the decision to alter my eating habits as well.
It was one of those moments where everything came together and it made the health coach even happier to hear that I was exercising AND eating better.
I told my mom about my plan about training for a half marathon knowing that she’s been wanting to up her running game as well. She decided to join me and we started training together at a local park with great running paths and cross training opportunities.
We used the Galloway Method for training since we aren’t hard-core runners and one of my main issues with running is that I have very low stamina.
I am sure I am not alone when I say this, but I really hate hills. So much that when I was running years ago on my own or with my friends, I would stop halfway up the hill and walk until I got to the top and continue my run once beyond the hill. I might be able to handle the first couple of hills without stopping, but just before the end of the race, I would refuse to run up anymore hills.
This, obviously, would mess with my times and I would hit a wall for top personal record times. It felt like nothing I was doing in my training, no matter how much cross training I would do would get me to push through the hills. Using the Galloway Method of running off and on helped get me to push through the hills.
When we first started, I hadn’t run in almost 2 years and so I refused to do more than one hill. Within several weeks of running, I was running up more and more hills. Two weeks before our race, I was hitting every single hill. My stamina increased a thousandfold and I didn’t think that would be possible. We were on our way to hitting the half marathon at a personal record of 2:45.
And then I got a chest cold two days before the race. I tried to take it easy, medicate, and do everything I could to get over the cold and really bad cough quickly, but no such luck.
We still did the race, but the official time was 3:05 because I struggled to breathe on the course and couldn’t push myself up the hills like I did two weeks before. Needless to say, I was extremely disappointed by this turn of events after training so hard for two months. I am proud of completing the half marathon, but it was really, really rough.
We decided to try for another one in spring and I signed up for an 8k on Thanksgiving day. I am going to continue my training schedule once I’ve recovered from this cold and I think I might have even convinced Ash to join me in the mornings.
All that said, one thing must be noted: I had absolutely no recovery time after the half marathon. What I mean is, I was mildly sore on Monday and if I hadn’t had the chest cold I probably could have gone for a recovery run in the morning with no problem.
For me, this is unprecedented. I have run in the annual 10k our city has every 4th of July for several years and after that run I am limping around the house for a day or two afterwards. When I ran my first half marathon years ago, I was nearly out of commission for 3 days afterwards.
The only thing I can point to is the lack of sugar. Nothing else in my diet shift could make such a dramatic difference. I wasn’t vegan long enough to make a difference and I wasn’t one when we did a practice 12 mile run two weeks prior and I had no recovery issues.
Sugar really affects one’s recovery time. I am going to need to look into this further, but this is absolutely exciting news for future races for me. I like the idea that I don’t need to build in a recovery day where Ash has to stay home to watch Jai because I can’t get out of bed.
Other exciting news is that I went to see my MS Neurologist end of last week. It was an extremely brief visit, but I told him all about what I was doing since I last visited in July for my flare up. He asked the usual questions about how I was doing regarding the flare up and I mentioned that I changed my diet and what that meant and how I my health has improved. I mentioned the exercising as well and he was extremely pleased to hear all that I was doing.
I was really worried because I was afraid he was going to tell me to get back on some medication regardless of how I was feeling. He doesn’t operate like that AT ALL; his attitude is if the patient is happy then keep doing what works. But there’s always that fear that the doctor will tell me to stop breastfeeding, get on some medication, and let’s keep monitoring your status.
Instead, he told me to keep up the good work, he sees there’s a massive improvement in my health and – and this is the best part – he didn’t see any need for me to do any MRIs for the foreseeable future.
No MRIs for an MS patient is nothing short of a godsend.
I never have an issue with doing an MRI, but it so expensive twice a year with insurance, and a stressor (“what are they going to find?”), that to be told I am so healthy that there’s no reason to do one until after I get back on medication (“Even then, we will see if it’s necessary”), means that I am doing something right.
It was such a wonderful and validating experience that I feel like I am on the right track with all that I am doing. This sacrifice I am making for my health will be, in the end, worth it.