|"the mind tells the body what to do"|
Every day it seems I think of new reasons why, but I will give you my favorites. First, of course, is the physical benefit. I have struggled with weight issues most of my life and it's the most powerful tool I know for weight loss and weight maintenance.Second, I run for internal balance. Running helps me shake off stress and clear my head. When I have had a rough day or I am in a funk, it brings me back to ME. The world always looks brighter after a good run.Third, I run for energy. I have a demanding schedule, but running gives me the energy to keep up with it. There aren't many things in life that you get back double what you put in, but running is one those things. When I am running consistently, every aspect of my life is improved. I have more energy and focus to devote to everything else.
How long have you been running? How did you get started? Why did you choose running over other activities?
This story actually has several twists and turns to it and is a bit long.
You see, as a child growing up I did practically no physical activity. When I was 4 years old, I began having issues with my right knee. It would be years later before I was given a definitive diagnosis, a very rare condition known as Pigmented Villonodular Synovitis. It affects about 2 people per million, and I am JUST THAT LUCKY. Basically a tumor inside the synovium, it causes pain and extreme swelling. Virtually any time I bumped my knee as a child, I spent the next 3 or 4 days on crutches. I had exploratory surgery at age 9, but was still not definitively diagnosed or successfully treated until I was 19, when I had my second surgery to remove the tumor as well as about 60% of my meniscus, which was in the process of being eaten away by PVNS. After that particular surgery, my orthopedic told me I would likely have to have the joint replaced by the time I was 30.
I tell you all this to paint the picture that I lived a very cautious life growing up. Running was out of the question. It was filed in my mind under "You can't do this". And then came the day that I can still vividly remember, the day as a college senior that my roommate invited me to go for a run with her. At first, I responded with my standard "oh, I can't run" but as soon as I said it, I thought "why not???". After all, the tumor was no longer there and I hadn't had any episodes with my knee in the three years since that surgery. So, on a whim, I went for a run. I ran 3/4 of a mile without stopping, even being terribly out of shape and overweight. There was a thrill I can't even describe, because a wall had been broken down in my mind!! The "I can't do that" wall was crumbling!!
After that, I became a casual runner. Just running a mile or two here and there. Once I graduated college, I became a caregiver for my grandmother for a year and I began running more for stress relief than anything else. Then came relationships and careers, and I still ran but not very consistently. I ran a 6k race during this time, and that was probably my longest distance at the time.
Then when I was 26, I woke one day to a familiar tightness in my knee, and by the end of the day my knee was so swollen I couldn't lift my leg. An MRI determined that PVNS had returned (it has a 45% rate of recurrence), and I had my third surgery to remove the PVNS tissue, a little more of my meniscus (I have about 30% remaining), and to scrape the top of my tibia, which had started to degenerate. It also determined I had Chrondomalacia at the highest grade. My doc also said that running was probably not a great idea for me. I recall her saying, "Maybe every now and then, but you probably shouldn't run a marathon or anything". She also said I could probably put my knee replacement off until I was 40 and that "having surgery every 7 years really isn't too bad for PVNS". That day the "I can't do it" wall was built again. I didn't run for two years after that.
I tried walking, biking, other lower impact exercises, but nothing felt like running. So one day, on a walk, I thought I would run for just 30 seconds, just to FEEL it again. Well, I couldn't stop running and threw my doc's recommendation out the window. The next couple of years, running would become crucial in helping me keep my sanity through a marriage falling apart and ending in divorce. When life got too much, I went for a run and prayed. Some of my best prayers have been prayed while running. During the last few months of the marriage, I began running road races. First a few 5ks, then a 7 mile race, then a few more 5ks. My divorce was final December of 2009 and my New Year's Resolution for 2010 was HUGE -- RUN A HALF MARATHON! I met that goal at the Columbus Marathon on Oct. 17th. I ran the whole thing and finished (my two goals) and I only had a little knee pain in the 12th mile. I was crying and laughing as I crossed the finish line!!!
|after finishing the Columbus half marathon|
Consistency has actually been a challenge for me this year. I remarried in January and my husband and I are heavily involved in several ministries at our church as well as both working full time. But I NEED to run to be the person I like to be, so lately I have been inspired by #runstreak on Twitter to run at least one mile every day. When you commit yourself to running every day, the question is no longer "will I run today?", it's "where am I gonna make time for it?". I love to run outside and hate the treadmill. Rain doesn't bother me. In fact, one of my most memorable runs was in a downpour and I promise it was the most exhilirating feeling!!! Like being kissed by God. Cold doesn't bother me either, unless it's colder that about 25 degrees. When I am being lazy, I remind myself of how awesome I will feel after the run, or I use the old 10 minute plan. I tell myself I have to run for 10 minutes and if I still feel like stopping at that point, I can. But by then, I'm feeling great and I keep on!
Do you use a running coach, or read any books to aid in your training?
I read Runner's World voraciously every month. I also recently joined a runner's group on Facebook (John's Striders) and they give GREAT support and advice. Twitter is an awesome support network for runners and also a great source of training information.
How do you fit running in with your daily schedule?
I usually have to fit it in first thing in the morning, although sometimes I run at night. Every now and then I get to run right after work, but that's rare. This time of year, I am almost always running in the dark, but I don't mind that. In fact, I think there is something really enchanting about it. Although, nothing beats a run on a brisk, sunny autumn day!
Do your friends and family support your running or think you are crazy?
I am so blessed to have a supportive family, although I think a few of my friends think I am crazy!!! My ex-husband was not supportive at all, in fact he used to make some nasty comments about me running. And I dated a guy just after my divorce who didn't get it AT ALL and kept telling me that I should just walk. My now husband David is not only very supportive, but he has started running recently as well. I also inspired my brother-in-law to start running and I got to see him finish his first half-marathon last month! His wife (my sister) has recently started running too. Running is becoming a family passion, and I love it!!
What is your favorite running terrain (road, trail, treadmill)?
I haven't actually tried trail running yet, although I am hoping to soon. I detest the treadmill, but will suffer on it from time to time if need be.
|Getting read to run Iron Horse with both brother-in-laws, Rick (L) and Joe (R)|
That's a tie between the 7 mile race I ran back in 2009. I wasn't trained for it and it was humid that day. I barely made it in time to run and had thrown the give-away shirt (which was way too big) on over my other tee and then pinned my number on and ran to the starting line. Only a few miles in I was wishing I could rip the top shirt off but it was pinned to my other one. The other race was the Iron Horse Half last month. I was also not trained well for this one and started having some knee pain in mile 4. By mile 6 it was excrutiating and at the halfway point, I decided to not finish. My only DNF, but the bright side is that I got to see both brother-in-laws finish their first Half, and it has inspired me to never slack on my training again.
What is the most enjoyable race you've run to date?
Hands down, Columbus in 2010. I felt great almost the whole race and never felt like quitting. The crowd was great, the weather was perfect, and as I crossed the finish, the "I can't do it" wall was demolished.
Have you ever been injured due to running? What were the ramifications?
Of course, I struggle with knee issues on a regular basis, but that isn't actually due to running. In fact, sometimes I have some knee pain when I start running that quickly goes away. I have osteo-arthritis already in my right knee and when the weather changes it can be cranky. Most of the time it's mild, but if it's severe, I don't run through it. My left knee was actually the painful one in my last half, but I haven't had that pain since, so I think it was just a lack of training. I once tripped on some debris while running and sprained my ankle and I stayed off of it til it was healed.
Do you use any music or run tracking devices when you run, or are you a naked runner?
Depends on my mood. Sometimes it's nice to just run "naked" and hear the birds sing, but sometimes I like having a soundtrack to the run. On morning runs, I like to listen to worship music like Jesus Culture or Misty Edwards, to set my tone for the rest of the day. On long runs, I like epic music like movie soundtracks (Pirates is my fave) or something fast and driving. If I am on a treadmill, I almost always have to have music to keep me from going nuts. I sometimes use an app on my phone to track distance and pace. I haven't gotten one of those nifty Garmins just yet. :-)
How do you get yourself through the difficult parts of your runs? Do you have a personal mantra or do you just give up?
When I was training for my first half, I felt like I had the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. Only I called them "Fat Angie" and "Fit Angie". Fat Angie would always be trying to get me to quit, and Fit Angie would always tell me to keep on. I actually don't hear much out of Fat Angie anymore because now I know I can. I would also remind myself that "the mind tells the body what to do". I have been looking for a great mantra but haven't really found it yet, although I have used "Just keep swimming" more than a time or two!
A lot of runners know that "Who has the runs" has a double meaning. How do you deal with the occasional "problem" that plagues every runner at one time or another?
I actually haven't had it happen to me yet on a run, although once on the way to a 5k, I got hit with the runs and barely made it back home. Needless to say, I didn't run in that 5k.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about taking up running?
For anyone who has the "I can't do it" wall, I dare ya to tear it down. Just get out there and run a few times and it won't be long until you have the run that makes it worth it all and keeps you going back for more. And also, get fitted for good shoes. You don't have to have all the other running toys, but you do need good shoes.
|One of my favorite places to run, the Legacy Trail in Lexington, KY|
I am planning on a half marathon in March 2012, the Run The Bluegrass Half in Lexington, KY.
What is your immediate running goal?
To completely eradicate the "I'm too busy" excuse out of my head by running daily with #runstreak, at least until I officially start training for my next half.
What is your ultimate running goal?
I actually have three: I want to run a Half in less than 2:04 (which would shave an hour off my first HM time), I want to run the NYC Marathon, and I want to run the Big Sur Marathon.
Do you have a way we can keep track of your progress (Twitter, Facebook, Blog, etc)
Mainly through Twitter @angiebpearson
I haven't started a blog yet, although I would expect that in 2012.