Saturday, February 5, 2011

Ten Miles on a Treadmill

“Life's rewards go to those who let their actions rise above their excuses.”

**Lee J. Colan**

        My mileage is coming back more each week, despite the occasional set back. After my 25 mile week my back went out (non-running related, too many teenagers in the house at once related,) so I missed about 5 days of running, cutting me back to 10-12 for my weekly mileage. Once the muscle spasms and soreness was gone, I got in a couple of days of good running before a weekend of craziness bumped it to a back burner again. It is SO easy to let excuses take over and keep us from running. Looking at my schedule for Monday morning I knew if I didn’t get my run in before dawn, it wasn’t going to happen. Time to put my money where my mouth is and do it!
      I had hoped to run 10 miles, but I woke up feeling an RA flare in full swing. My jaw was so inflamed I couldn’t open my mouth to eat breakfast and I was wiped out tired, the last thing I felt like doing was go for a run. Fortunately, I knew a good run would get my joints back in motion and bring my energy levels up. Running was my best shot at feeling good fast.
      A glance at the thermometer told me it was going to be a treadmill run. UGH! I headed to the gym with hopes of a 10 miler fading from view, knowing that if my back started to tighten or I totally ran out of steam I could cut it short and simply get off the treadmill.
      Arriving at the gym I organized me things, untangled my headphones, filled my water bottle, said hello to a friend, and then finally ran out of ways to stall and started my run. After less than a mile my body was warning me to plan a bathroom stop soon, rats! I decided to push and try to make it 3 miles. Done!
      I made a quick dash to the ladies room and got back to the treadmill. I was feeling good and loosened up so my next goal was to run through a TV episode I had downloaded to my MP3 player. That took me another 4 miles. Done!
     At that point I was a mere 5K away from a 10 miler and still feeling good. No soreness, no tightening muscles in my back or feet, and no screaming RA joints. I made a break for the water fountain and refilled my bottle, then back on the treadmill for one last stint.
     I had maintained a 10 minute per mile pace thus far, but without the usual incline to simulate a road effort. Mostly I just wanted to get used to running long again. I was irritated with my RA flaring up. With all the things I had to do I simply did not have time for it and was determined to beat it back without having to crawl to my doctor's office for more bone thinning steroids.
     At this point I was starting to flag. With 7 miles and over an hour behind me, I was approaching my limits.
     {Half a mile} come on body, we can finish this
     {1mile} okay, 2/3 of the last 5K done
     {2 miles} Cool, that one went by okay
     {2.5 miles} Just---hang---on---for---5---more---minutes....
     DONE! A 10 full miles. I was exhilarated! As I wobbled off the treadmill with my jellied legs I was felling back in charge. One more step to reclaiming my pre injury levels and a great start to my log for the week. Take that Daily Mile!
     After getting cleaned up I grabbed a 15 minute power nap and faced the day. By the time I collapsed into bed that night I felt good about all the things I had successfully scratched off my to-do list and all the obligations I met, including the most important obligation to myself.
     It wasn’t until the next morning that I realized the extent of what that 10 mile run had done for me. I woke up almost free of RA symptoms! No sore jaw, no stiff feet, and no tin-man shuffle to the coffee pot! The only lingering pain is the hip that has not totally recovered from slipping on the ice last month and even that was better than it was last week. A steroid shot wouldn’t have worked this fast or this completely. I was totally shocked at just how effective my run was. I have no doubt that the same effect could be achieved with other forms of intense cardio so I recommend anyone battling an auto-immune disease to find what works for them, swimming, biking, walking, whatever. I haven’t been able to give up my biologics yet, but I still hold out hope that one day I can let them go too. It only takes one time of feeling the release from RA’s grip to make you a devoted exerciser!


Clare said...

i wonder if my lingering neck flares are related to my lack of running...i totally agree with you, but at the same time, the RA makes it so much harder depending what joints are involved. the neck has complicated things...i can't it or stand or lie down without pain when it's going, so pretty much anything else is out of the question. SUCKS. but just means i need to step it up again when i can.

WendyBird said...

Sorry to hear that Clare. Neck flares are brutal. You never realize how much you turn your head until you can't :-) You are tough, you will get it under control again!