Sunday, December 21, 2014

Ready to Run (Almost)

I want to mention something I've been meaning to write about since September - I'm not sure why it's taken me this long!

Starting in September, I started seeing an amazing physical therapist, referred to me by my incredible mentor.  I've been sidelined all year long post-marathon - first the scary hamstring pain before the marathon back in January, then the foot injury after the marathon, and then just as my foot was healed and I went to start running again...the hamstring pain came back.  I'd run, feel pain, then rest for a week or two (or four).  Then start again, the pain would come again.  Then gradually it became a part of my every day life, spread to my hip and glute, and would get worse after teaching classes.  I sought out a sports medicine doctor who ordered an MRI which showed me nothing at all (except a much emptier bank account).

So although I dearly wish it hadn't taken me from January til September to finally get to a physical therapist about this, I'm there now!  It took me a nine months to get to this point so I know I can't expect results right away, but the amount of help Fabricio, my PT, has given me in these three months since I've been seeing him is astronomical.  We even went on a few runs together, and I went on a few on my own.  We've held off the running because a) he wants me to be barefoot to help my foot strike and to improve my stride and it's freezing cold and b) after over-doing it on some of our strengthening exercises some of the pain was coming back.

I'm back to feeling great again, though, and I'm sure Santa will give me the means to get a Fabricio-approved running shoe and I'm so excited to keep going on my journey back to running in January.

I've gotten really despondent about this throughout the year.  Running, even more than yoga, is my primary stress reliever and mood booster when it comes to physical activity.  (I obviously love yoga, but I have a hard time keeping myself from analyzing the teacher and sequence!)  I was even experiencing pain after taking yoga classes so those were out too.  I also didn't want to wallow because so many people I knew this year were going through much worse physical trials than me.  I've been more sedentary and I know it's had an effect on my overall mood and health this year, which has been really hard.

What I've been learning through my PT work, though, has been so instrumental and changing the way I sit, stand, teach, practice, run, and do random functional activities throughout the day.  For my birthday, Fabricio gave me a book called Ready to Run by Dr. Kelly Starrett which has clearly been influencing the work we've been doing to get me back to running.  It's fascinating and so much of what it says has me saying, "Duh! Why have I not always been doing this?"  It talks so much about how much of injury prevention is in our own hands.  We have to get to know our own body mechanics, mobility, range of motion, limitations we can work on, sit less, use good posture, and perform daily maintenance on our bodies.

I can't recommend this book enough and I'm not even finished with it yet.  It's packed with exercises, mobility tests, foam roll/pressure point ball exercises for self massage and fascia release, and great information.  Whether you'd define yourself as an athlete, a yogi, or neither, this book is a must read!  Treat yourself to Ready to Run and you'll be so inspired to take better care of yourself in 2015.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Now is now

Although I have a couple of massages planned today, and I just spent several days not working due to the lovely Thanksgiving holiday, today feels like my first day off in awhile.  I think it's because I'm at home.  I'm at home, I'm alone, and as usual, I have a giant to-do list of things I want to accomplish, some of which I feel like I've been trying to accomplish for months now.

Something that wasn't on the list but that I just "accomplished" as I tried out a new oatmeal recipe - I finally finished rereading Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin.  I started re-reading this book in September, when Marc and I had just gotten back from seeing the babies and we were still very new to our beautiful new apartment.  I thought I'd follow along with the book, dedicating my own resolutions and changes and goals, making our home the happiest, most organized home EVER.  Of course, work and life got in the way, and my massive plan was put off.  But I still very much enjoy her writing and the entire concept of her Happiness Projects.  (In fact, I wrote a book report - I should start doing those again - on her first book, back in September of 2011)

Reading as I was cooking/eating this morning, I realized I had nearly unintentionally finished the book.  As one might expect, the last passage is particularly interesting and struck a chord with me - something that Marc and I had been talking about just this past weekend.

The notion of "being present" is so very challenging for so many of us because we tend to be focusing on either the past and the future, and most people tend more toward one than the other.  I am much more of a future-oriented person.  I have a pathological tendency toward planning.  Planning, daydreaming, anticipating, worrying - and I've lately gotten into a lovely habit of preparing for and imagining entire arguments or debates with people before they've even happened.  And of course - they might never happen.

In the last passage of her book, Rubin discusses the notion, one of her personal Splendid Truths, of, "Now is now."  She explains:

"One of the persistent follies of human nature is to imagine true happiness is just out of reach.  The "arrival fallacy" describes our tendency to believe that once we arrive at a particular destination, then we'll be happy. People generally expect the future will be slightly happier than the past; in one study, when asked where they thought they'd be in ten years, 95% of people expected their lives would be better in the future than in the past, and people already satisfied with their lives believed they'd be even more satisfied."

I can very much relate to that, as I think a lot of people can.  Regardless of how you'd describe your current state of happiness, there's so often with people a feeling of "Once I've accomplished this" or "Once I'm making this amount of money," or fill in the blank - then we can rest and bask in the glow of our happy present.

Rubin mentions a couple of times the idea of nostalgia, and pining for the "good old days," when in fact at some point, we will look back on right now with that nostalgia of it being the "good old days."  It makes me think of high school and college, which I so desperately loved, and being baffled by my friends who were so deeply anxious to graduate and get the hell out.  I, on the other hand, had to be dragged kicking and screaming across the graduation stage so badly did I want to stay in my comfort zone with my friends.  I had a strong sense that I'd look back and pine for those days, and I wanted them to last as long as I could.

Luckily, I can confidently say that as much as I loved those years, they were not the pinnacle of my life.  The happiest day of my life, still, as cliche as it might sound - was my wedding day.  And the reason for it is because - it was the most consistently present day of my life.  It was a day that had been so incredibly anticipated, with excitement but also a lot of angst and family drama surrounding it, that once it arrived I truly enjoyed every single moment of it.  And I didn't want to rush time, either - excited as I was to see Marc and for the getting-married part, I loved everything leading up to it as much as during and after.

Like high school and college, I don't want or expect my wedding day to be the pinnacle of my life.  I should hope I still have several decades of living to go beyond that one day, and how depressing would it be if it were all downhill from there?  But the biggest reason for why that day has been the best, outside of the friends, family, new husband, dress, cake, dancing, etc - it was because I was 100% immersed in every moment as it was happening.  I've had days where I've come close to that level of presence, but nothing's equalled it just yet.

I don't think life has one particular meaning, but for me, I live by the philosophy that, "The purpose of life is to enjoy every moment."  As Gretchen Rubin puts it, "Now is now."  If what's happening in this moment is good, bad, painful, joyful - it's still what's happening now, and it's meant to be felt and experienced to the fullest.