It is no secret that for the past 24 months I had been fighting for my own health. I was constantly sick – shingles 4 times, mono for months, numerous sinus infections, etc. However, even worse than that I was so exhausted I struggled to do anything besides make it to work and home. Plus, with all that going on my weight kept creeping up and up no matter how healthy I ate or how much I tracked my food. I ended up 50 pounds heavier than when this whole adventure began.
However, after advocating for my health for well over two years I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism and some pretty severe hormonal problems. I recently started medicine and while I know it may take 6 – 12 months of slowly increasing the dose and monitoring to see how my body reacts, I now feel I am finally on the right track.
It was a tough journey and there were days (like when a mean doctor was really rude to me) that I fought through some tears, but in the end I cannot help but reflect back on what this whole journey has taught me. One huge realization I had, that I am grateful came out of all this, is that I feel getting sick and gaining 50 pounds had made me a better running coach.
How did getting sick and gaining 50 pounds make me a better coach you ask?
1. I learned more about giving your body grace –
I learned so much about balance recently – when to push and when to take it easy. Over the past two years I have focused on really giving myself grace not only in how I feel and in what I am able to do, but in all aspects of my life and this has really penetrated through to my run coaching as well.
As my clients are coming back after not running for a while, after surgery, or post injury we really focus in on what it means to give your body grace as you getting back into your training. Knowing what it feels like to be kind to yourself, even when things seem so tough and it is easy to get down, has helped me convey that to them.
2. I understand what it is like to try and push through illness –
I have many clients who have different medical struggles – lupus, fibromyalgia, MS, hypothyroidism, and even two that are just returning post-surgery. While suffering through my own medical struggles was not fun it has really helped me to understand what they are going through.
Before this I never really grasped the full extent of the good and bad days that might come with an illness like those listed above. However, now I feel I have a better understanding of what some of my clients are going through. I know what the good days feel like, and I know there are days that it seems you can barely pull yourself out of bed. This helps me relate to them more and create plans that best fit what they can do and what they are working towards.
3. I know what it is like to feel like you are starting over –
After 2 years of very limited workouts I know what it feels like to be starting over. To look at your paces and realize they are all 2 – 3 minutes slower than before. However, my time off also gave me so much perspective on the beauty of just being able to run.
I feel as though this has really helped me with clients who are starting over or coming back after time off for some reason. It allows me to help them see that it is okay to be slower, that they will get there again one day, and that the important thing is just to focus on what they can do now, to enjoy the run, and to celebrate the little victories.
4. I am aware of what it feels like to run carrying 50 extra pounds –
I was always a normal sized runner, not super-trim and elite looking, (at my healthy weight I wear a size 8/10 clothes). I always felt I looked happily average, and I was proud of the way I looked because of what my body was capable of doing. However, when I got ill I gained 50 pounds (photo on the right) and my weight hit 200 pounds, borderline obese according to most charts.
Running with that extra 50 pounds of weight strapped on is TOUGH! I feel like I am wearing a weight vest on all my runs and the truth is I know I would be faster if I could just drop those 50 pounds. However, weight loss is hard and many times there are lots of contributing factors. You can be working out, eating right, and still not losing weight for a number of reasons. So, I have embraced running 50 pounds heavier, more chaffing than I ever knew existed, and struggling to find good running clothes in my size that don’t make me look like a stuffed sausage.
While I would really prefer to not have those 50 pounds (can someone take them now) I feel that gaining the weight helped me to really understand some of my clients who are struggling to lose weight and the impact it has on their running.
Let me know –
What experiences in your life how taught you more about running?
How do you turn a negative into a positive?