Category Archives: Runs

On Recovery Running

Calm down.

You cannot sprint off into the pace and distances you left before the injury.

Calm down.

You cannot run like the past weeks, months, and pounds never happened.

Calm down.

It is OK to be winded and weak and dying. It is OK for the pain to still crawl up the back of your leg and nestle firmly in the root of your hamstring.

Calm down.

You are still recovering.

Calm down.

Do not make it worse.

Breathe. Just run. Gently. Just enjoying being able to run. A little.

You’ll get back, just like you have before. Running will still be there.

Calm down.

Baby steps. Baby little zombie turtle wogs.

Take what you can get. You will find the float again some day. You will sprint again some day.

Today, calm down.

 

***

 

I am trying to be good. I am trying SO HARD to be good. I am trying to run infrequently, short distances, and slowly. I am trying to modify barre classes to avoid the exercises that aggravate my hamstring. I am trying to not work out every day or twice a day.

I am trying to temper myself. So far, I think I am managing to tame my obsession, but I am struggling on the mental side of it.

I feel that itchy, uncomfortable anticipation experienced in the race chute all the time. Those terrible last seconds before the start gun. Those wretched little pregnant eternities. Yet I feel that all the time. Restrained, held back, contained. Like I’m coming out of my skin.

Getting back to some exercise has helped, but babying the leg still gives me this trapped feeling. The benefits I glean from exercise come from pushing myself to my brink, from making it hurt until the endorphins wash over my brain. I can’t do that yet, so I’m just left feeling perpetually unconsummated.

I’m trying to think of this as an investment in my body. I am trying to process it as purchasing health on the other side of this injury. Yet, with my mental balance in free fall, I am finding it challenging to sell these ideas to myself.

Patience. Breathe. Calm down.

 

Christina Bergling

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Reading Running

Yes, I am in running withdrawals. I have not run, jogged, wogged, anything in weeks. So, instead, I read about running (or listen to books about running – I have no time to actually read these days). I just finished What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murahami.

I loved this book. The memoir is unraveled with such an effortless honesty and authentic humor that I was more than content to listen to the random interconnected fragments of life stirred up by marathon training.

I am no marathoner or ultramarathoner or triathlete like Murakami. I am no professional novelist like Murakami (yet). Even on my best days, I am just a zombie turtle wogging along and a horror writer on the side of being a mom and a software engineer. Yet, Murakami ruminates on such universal truths about running and writing and the relationship between the two that it resonated deeply with me. At times, I could confuse his voice and his words for my own. I laughed when he irritated me when he was being and talking like me.

This book helped me understand myself better, as both a runner and a writer. I suddenly saw the correlation between long distance running (yes, I am considering 10-13 miles distance running) and writing a novel. Murakami identified connected traits and attributes of both that categorized me so well, made me see myself more clearly.

As I listened to Murakami discuss both how he became a runner and a writer and how he was currently training for the New York City Marathon, I became awash with my own nostalgia about my journey with running and how it intersected so many points of my life, how it defined so many parts of me. I was entertained by Murakami’s story, but I was also able to wallow in the pleasant memory of my own.

The book inspired me, both to be more persistent and more lenient, to push myself and appreciate myself.  And it made me want to run again, be back with that version of myself.

While reading (listening) about running exacerbated my withdrawals, it also pacified them in a way. I felt closer to the activity, reassured that it didn’t dry up and vanish in these brief weeks away, confident that I can return and retrain back to my mediocre performance but obsessive commitment.

Deep breath. Take care of the body and the mind. Then find my way back to the trail.

Christina Bergling

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The Next Level of Failing Recovery

What I would not give to finally be able to write a damn post about running! For a running blog, this has been a sad string of whiny rants about not running for the better part of the last year.

And well, fuck. It’s only about to get worse.

The hamstring saga continues, unfortunately. I have failed spectacularly at physical therapy.

So injury in August. Initial doctor in January. My insurance company rejected the request for an MRI, so I was sent to the orthopedic in January. I almost immediately started physical therapy and went once or twice a week until the end of March, when my therapist and I agreed that I was making no progress if not deteriorating further. So I was sent back to the orthopedic who requested an MRI that my insurance company decided to bless this time.

Last week, I went for my first-ever MRI. Even as they were just imaging my hips and pelvis, leaving the crown of my head outside the torturous and constricting tube, it was a remarkably unpleasant experience. I do not like confined spaces, particularly those that restrict my arms. I would not call it claustrophobia. Perhaps a manageable discomfort. I also do not do super well holding still, much less utterly and completely still.

So I lay in the tiny tube, where it felt like I could headbutt the top of it. I breathed through my discomfort and the constricted feeling steadily climbing my limbs. As I held still longer and longer, I lost feeling in my hands. I had to peek through the bottom of my eyes to assure myself they remained folded on my chest. Yet even through the unrelenting slamming noise of the machine, I kept dozing off. Yet I could not be trusted to remain still while I slept, so I kept wrenching myself out of the twisted nightmares reaching up over me.

(not my MRI image)

The half hour dragged on in a shapeless and oppressive blur. Thankfully, my tech was very communicative. Between each set of images, he informed me of the duration of the next set and the total time remaining. That gave me landmarks back into reality. I held completely still, bobbed up and down on the sea of my subconscious, and made it.

The MRI revealed that I have a partial hamstring tear. (Pause for my complete and utter lack of surprise. Wait a moment for me to scream how I said this in August. And December. And January.) My doctor told me they would like to try plasma-rich platelet (PRP) injections as the course of treatment.

(definitely NOT my hamstring)

I had never heard of PRP (and my doctor and assistants are relatively terrible at communication), so I have done a fair amount of research online. To summarize, they will draw some of my blood, spin it down, and inject the platelet-rich layer directly into the hamstring injury. This should cause inflammation to go into overdrive and Wolverine up my body’s healing measures. It’s also supposed to hurt like holy hell for the first two weeks due to how inflamed it will be.

I read mixed reviews online. Studies that confirmed it accelerated healing and recovery effectiveness. Studies that claimed it does absolutely nothing compared to other therapies. People who swear by it and worship the results. People who scoff at or hate it. Thanks, Internet, for your reliable ambiguity.

Yet, at this point, I will try about anything. The pain is near constant and continues to interfere with my life, as simply as restricting activity and as grandly as influencing my behavior and personality. It has been almost 9 months with minimal improvement; I am over it. Depression is starting to creep in, flood and blur the edges, capitalize and take over. I feel it taking root in my brain, planting its awful seed in all the fissures the pain have created.

Besides, my doctor informs me the only other measure we can try involves completely severing the hamstring and reattaching it. I want no part of that very major surgery.

So the PRP injection is the next step. Once my insurance blesses it. Even if they do not, I may just pay for it. I need some sliver of hope.

What I have not been able to ascertain from my doctors or physical therapist are rules, boundaries, suggestions, advice, ANYTHING at all about what activities I should or should not be doing. The answer has been consistently vague.

“Don’t aggravate it.”

“Don’t do anything that hurts it.”

Aside from the fact that by personality defect alone I will push right through both aggravation and pain, activity has not hurt this entire time. It has felt fine to be active during the activity. If not much better than rest. Yet, clearly, that was not the case. I just want some definite answers. I get the liability portion; I get the variability between patients. But come on! Give me something.

So I stepped outside the therapeutic relationships and sought wisdom elsewhere.

Running has felt pretty good all along. No hamstring pain, no twinges, just perhaps extra pain after. Yet my logical brain has snagged on how it could be good or even ok for the injury. Besides, for all those months, I didn’t know what was really wrong. Yet now, running is off the table. NO RUNNING until it recovers.

I have trouble even typing that because I do not know how I am going to do it. It sounds silly to be so attached to an activity, but it has been my lifeline to sanity for so many years now. Even though my fitness has diversified over the past couple years, running has always been there; it has always been my guaranteed hit of endorphins.

No yoga either. The other activity I have used almost exclusively for the effects on the mind rather than the body.

SHIT. How am I going to hold my shit together?

I have been given permission to walk (in short strides) and dance (minus specific movements) and maybe barre (skipping key exercises). It is better than nothing, but I just do not know how I am going to maintain the balance I have cultivated through exercise when I am not allowed to push myself past my edge. My sanity is created by completely exerting myself, completely wasting myself in a workout to leave only the high.

I do not know how to moderate. In life.

I mean I’m grateful that it is not more restrictive or that my injury is not worse. Initially, I thought I would be 12 weeks with zero activity after the injection. That idea nearly sent me into a panic attack.

I am just trying to process how I am going to do this, what all it is going to mean. Ultimately, I will do just about anything to recover, to make the daily constant pain go away. Yet, a very nagging part of me is still lamenting what it is going to cost.

So expect even more posts not about running but more about not being able to run.

The saga continues…

Christina Bergling

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Resolutions

Ah, the new year. An arbitrary revolution of the calendar that gives us the illusion or the excuse at a fresh start.

I have made many resolutions over the years, mostly of the extreme or self-loathing variety. Not all of them are precipitated by the new year; that just presents a convenient excuse to brand intention into my brain. Over the course of my “fitness journey” (read: whole damn life), I have made countless goals and resolutions. And each time I fail at them or they turn on me, I tell myself that I have learned from them; that I will get it right next time. Yet, instead, I seem to find a new way of getting it wrong, another unique way of pushing it too far and perverting the intention to masochistic proportions.

So I am accepting this quirk in my pathology, this extremist tendency of mine. I am acknowledging and embracing it. I am changing my resolution paradigm. Instead, I am going to keep it simple. My goal, my new year’s resolution as it were is: BALANCE.

That’s it. Balance.

(Potentially the hardest thing ever for me, by the way.)

I want to find the compromise between a hardcore diet and binging on food. I want to exercise from a place of health, loving my body, and enjoying the activity rather than to punish my body. I want to find a way to pursue my goals while also appreciating where I am.

Balance.

I think this idea has become especially important as I recently decided to return to therapy. I have not worked with a therapist since I was pregnant and post-partum with my daughter, over 5 years ago. Yet, I very lately plunged into a bought of body dysmorphia so strong, so persistent, so pervasive that I felt compelled to reestablish a clinical lifeline.

Generally, when I am managing my crazy, I can diffuse distorted thoughts by analyzing them, dismantling them, and applying logic. It may not necessarily cure or alleviate the feelings, but generally, it brings me back to perspective enough to ride it out while preventing behavioral consequences. In this particular round, nothing had any impact on the thoughts. I could tell myself that it was physically impossible to gain any significant amount of weight overnight, yet I just continued to obsess, fixate, hate myself, plan how I would punish myself.

It was alarming enough for me to decide to do something different. It has been over two years of unhealthy obsession disguised as health and recovery. I need to break the cycle and actually create balance in my mind more than anywhere else.

I am also changing my fitness regime with the new year. After two years of being devotedly dedicated to the gym, I am dropping my membership. My favorite zumba teacher left. They dropped the hip hop class I enjoyed. I went from attending 6+ times a week to maybe 2. It is simply not worth the investment. Plus, it is time to spice things up.

In the spirit of enjoyment over punishment, I am trading the gym to return to belly dance. I am also diving into my new barre addiction. And, hamstring willing, I want to get back to more running.

I guess my new year’s resolution is to have no resolution, to learn to let go. To find my balance.


Another Start

I ran by myself today for the first time in a long time. I ran the full distance with no breaks for the first time in an even longer time.

Running has not made it into my routine much in the past couple months. For a while, it seemed less and less by the week. At one point, I had dropped down to only run club on Wednesday. Part of the problem was scheduling. My fitness routine is stretched impossibly thin with zumba, barre classes, personal training, barbell classes, hiking–not to mention the demands of my non-exercise life. Yet, I think the majority of the issue has been my injury.

Running and overtraining on hills are what initially created my hip/abductor/glute issue. And running and hills are definitely what aggravate it still. The KT tape has helped substantially. I no longer hurt just walking and moving around normally. However, the pain is still there and has been there long enough for me to be over it. I just want it to recover, and I have been broken by the duration enough to be willing to take breaks and let it heal.

So I simply made my peace with running less. I missed it, but if I wanted my injury to relent and if I wanted to indulge in this litany of fitness, there was no other option.

Instead, I shifted my focus to weight loss, once again. I added the strength training I don’t enjoy. I began the calorie counting that makes me crazy. Yet, it finally seems to be working. So that is now the goal, getting the weight off. Then, hopefully, my hip will be healed, and I can return to upping my running again.

But I ran today, and it finally felt like running again. For the first time in a long time, it did not feel like a struggle the whole way, nor did my hip twinge and whine. I floated and could have been swept away by the sheer bliss in that. I felt lighter; I felt stronger; I felt more in shape. Ultimately, my pace was somewhat disappointing, but I did hike the Manitou Incline yesterday, so maybe I just am those things.

I am working to be less obsessive. Across the board. Just because I don’t lay down three or more runs a week or hit over 15 miles a week does not mean I’m not running or not a runner. Just because I take an extra rest day or allow an injury to recover does not mean I am slacking or that I will gain weight. Just because I am counting calories does not mean I cannot eat. My routine does not need to be identical every week. My brain rails against such ideas, but I am working on it.

 

Christina Bergling

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SavagesCoverChristinaSavages

Two survivors search the ruins of America for the last strain of humanity. Marcus believes they are still human; Parker knows her own darkness. Until one discovery changes everything.

Available now on Amazon!
savagesnovella.com

TheWaning_CoverThe Waning

Beatrix woke up in a cage. Can she survive long enough to escape, or will he succeed at breaking her down into a possession?

Available now on Amazon!
thewaning.com


One Injury

I thought I was getting worse at this whole running thing. I thought all my effort was for not and my performance was just steadily declining. I had resolved to just push harder, just run more, just suffer more.

I am an idiot.

Never did it crest my mind that my running ability might be directly correlated to the health of my body, that it might be hindered by that nagging and worsening injury spreading across my hip. That same injury I chose to ignore, push through, and exacerbate for the past two months.

I am an idiot.

Last week, I went to Wisconsin to visit family. One of the family members we stayed with happens to be an avid runner, perhaps the most avid runner I have ever known. When my aunt told me tales of running on her cracked heel until it leaked bone marrow, I thought surely a twinging hip cannot be that bad. My hip had finally declined to the point that I actually elected to take a week break to permit it an instant to heal.

Then my aunt introduced me to KT tape. KT tape worked for her when she tore her hip and then ran a half marathon.

kttape

She handed me the roll, and I hopped on to YouTube to find out how to tape myself back together.

The result was amazing and nearly instantaneous. With a black starburst on the curve of my hip, the pain appeared mitigated. Slightly at first, but more with each attempt. After just one run taped up, I found myself able to walk without hobbling or limping afterward. I had to retrain myself to not flinch or compensate for the injury as I moved. I was stunned that such a subtle therapy could have such an impact.

Then, magically, with my hip pain removed, my running ability increased dramatically. Nothing impressive but definitely something more familiar and expected. In Wisconsin, I chased my aunt and her running mate a minute plus faster per mile than I have been running. Today, I ran a sub 10 minute mile. It was only one out of the five, but I have not ran a mile under 10 minutes since before my son, and even then, it was extremely rare.

Running just immediately feels better. I feel like a weight has been lifted, a weight that was dragging me down by the angry nerves reaching through my trunk. Simply put, I feel so much better.

It is almost like you run better when you’re not in pain or like pain goes away when you do something to heal your injury. Simple concepts I chose to be blinded to while I fixated and obsessed on the wrong details.

From a little bit of research, it appears as though this type of injury is caused by overuse (GUILTY) and training on hills (GUILTY). Maybe now with the knowledge of the cause and a therapy that aids in recovery, plus the perspective to not be such a misplaced zealot, I might be able to really start my training fresh.

And that is exciting.

 

Christina Bergling

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facebook.com/chrstnabergling
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SavagesCoverChristinaSavages

Two survivors search the ruins of America for the last strain of humanity. Marcus believes they are still human; Parker knows her own darkness. Until one discovery changes everything.

Available now on Amazon!
savagesnovella.com

TheWaning_CoverThe Waning

Beatrix woke up in a cage. Can she survive long enough to escape, or will he succeed at breaking her down into a possession?

Available now on Amazon!
thewaning.com


Impediments

My plan for the new year was to start fresh and get back into running. Unfortunately, all circumstances conspire against such an ambition.

First, my English cold morphed into the sinus infection, which was ultimately my own doing for pushing myself so hard and running miles in the snow while sick. Fair enough. I deserved that one.

Then, winter finally showed up. I love winter, and I love snow. I even love running in the snow, so usually this is not a problem. However, we got dumped on so hard that running became nearly impossible. I tried last week and probably should have worn snowshoes like the person I crossed paths with en route. Deep snow and a slippery mess.

However, most restrictive, I somehow injured my hip. This happened quite some time ago. I want to say even before the holidays. I have no idea what I did to it, but it has been getting steadily and progressively worse and is definitely aggravated by running, zumba, even walking. Of course, being the stubborn, addictive moron that I am, the pain and the injury never prevented me from pushing right through and clinging to my hardcore routine.

runnerinjury

The pain is not in my hip joint (which I think is a good thing?).  Instead, it is firmly nestled deep in the muscle wrapping up around my hip. I have foam rolled it. I have stretched it. I have had it massaged and adjusted. I have done just about everything but rest it.

Now, it appears I am at the point of needing to rest it. My chiropractor has drawn the line and lobbied heavily that I give it some time.

The whiny child in me wants to say, UGH! But I don’t have time! I’m already months behind!
But the responsible adult is begrudgingly saying, FINE. (And then pouting.)

Thankfully, this mandated rest comes at a time when my schedule would be completely destroyed anyway. I am working in Denver this week (instead of in my home), and I’m traveling to Wisconsin next week. All this eliminates my ability to commit to my daily homage at the gym or on the trail. I can only hope this disruption actually produces some healing.

I am trying not to freak out. I am trying not to get obsessive about workouts and training missed. It’s not like they were making huge impacts anyway, just another notch in the plateau. I am trying not to fret over what might happen to my mental balance.

runnermurder

I am trying to roll with it. Instead, I am just going to keep starting over. I am at the perpetual starting line.

 

Christina Bergling

christinabergling.com
facebook.com/chrstnabergling
@ChrstnaBergling
chrstnaberglingfierypen.wordpress.com
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SavagesCoverChristinaSavages

Two survivors search the ruins of America for the last strain of humanity. Marcus believes they are still human; Parker knows her own darkness. Until one discovery changes everything.

Available now on Amazon!
savagesnovella.com

TheWaning_CoverThe Waning

Beatrix woke up in a cage. Can she survive long enough to escape, or will he succeed at breaking her down into a possession?

Available now on Amazon!
thewaning.com