Getting to the Core

By: Katie Austin

Today was the day that life would take me on a detour.  I had been procrastinating for some time, waiting for the perfect “tomorrow” to start working out and eating right.  To think, almost two years ago I was battling breast cancer and struggled to keep food down as I battled nausea from my chemo treatments.  Now, I love the taste of food and my body is paying the price.  It was time to take action to become the healthier version of myself.

My intentions were good that Thursday afternoon as I took off across the Lake Murray Dam the stretches from Lexington to Irmo.  I parked my car, took a swig of water and told myself that today was the day.  I felt good as I walked and at times, I ran as far as I could, then walking fast to keep up a good pace.  I made it to the other side in Irmo (approximately 1.7 miles) and was motivated to travel the same distance back to Lexington.   I have to admit, a motivating factor was that my car was parked on the Lexington side of the dam so if I wanted to drive home, I would have to walk back 🙂

Lake Murray Dam sidewalk facing Lexington

I made it to my car and as I sat drinking the rest of my water, I was feeling pretty good about starting my exercise program.   I was already thinking about what I would do the next day to keep myself moving in this healthier direction, but when I woke up the next morning, things would change.  I would spend the next three weeks trying to figure out what was wrong with me.

I awoke the next day with pain in my upper-right back like I have never experienced before!  I had a lot on my plate that weekend and chalked things up to soreness coming from starting a new exercise routine.  I ignored my back pain and didn’t seek medical attention until the following Tuesday.  What would follow next was a series of doctor appointments, scans and tests to rule out whether or not my cancer was back.  Talk about stressed out as I felt like my life was spiraling out of control again!  They ended up ruling out a cancer recurrence (thank goodness!!) and determined that I had pulled or torn a muscle in my back.  I found myself extremely relieved that it wasn’t cancer, but at the same time frustrated, worried and one big ball of stress as I just wanted to know how I could make the pain go away.

I really pondered how a simple brisk walk with short sprints over a 3.4 mile stretch could cause the pain that I was in, but then it hit me – I didn’t take baby steps to get back into shape, but a full leap forward which stressed my body out.  Since completing my breast cancer fight, I haven’t really taken the time to get my strength back, ensuring that my “core” is where it should be to support my new workout.  Did I really think I could jump back into life, doing my normal routine and playing sports without taking the time to ensure that I was physically ready?  I have since relieved my back pain after seeing a physical therapist and reversing my bad habits that weakened my back to begin with.

Sometimes mind over body needs to be the reverse.  If I can give any advice to those beginning their workouts, take it slow, listen to your body and set reasonable goals.   My mistake was that I was trying to accomplish a lot in a little bit of time, which ended up setting me back several weeks.    Now, I have a new focus and direction which gives me hope that I will continue on my path to better health.

“He who has health, has hope; and he who has hope, has everything.”

I wanted to share this recent personal experience so that if there are readers going through something similar that it gives you hope that no matter what comes your way that, in time, things will get better.   I am feeling better, healthier with each passing day and I know that I will reach my goal in due time even if it takes many baby steps to get there.

If you have a suggestion for a health program that works best for you, post it here!   I hope to see some of you during my walks on the dam.  I wear pink in honor of my breast cancer sisters, so I am sure I will be easy to spot 🙂

My Secret to Running …

By: Brady Evans

I’m sitting here on my couch giving myself permission to be lazy.  I generally only give myself such allowances after one thing and one thing only: long runs.

This morning I spent three hours pounding the pavement around Lexington while completing an 18 mile run.

I know.  I KNOW.  I know.

“Why?”

I still can’t answer that question.  I’m training for my third marathon and the reasons for which I keep embarking on this sickly sweet pain and pleasure experience are still nebulous.

I think runners keep a secret from non-runners.  Okay.  I keep a secret from non-runners.  It’s weird.  My non-running friends and family talk more about my running than I do.  “This is Brady.  She’s a runner.”  “This is Brady.  She runs marathons.”  “My wife is amazing, she wakes up at 5 am and goes running in 30 degree weather, with a headlamp and a reflective vest, of course.”  It is nice to hear people say these things, but I don’t speak up about the truth.

I don’t crave running.  I don’t feel like my day is incomplete without my run.  Running hurts me.  After I drove home to my little farm out in Gilbert after my run this morning, I had to pick up my legs to get them out of the car.  I am not super human.  Running for three hours straight hurts.  Bottom line.

I hate the first three miles.  I will come up with nearly every excuse in the book to get myself to turn around during the first 30 minutes of my run.  I make believe in my head that the twinge in my knee cap is really my IT band severing and the pinch in my lower back is the beginnings of a bulging disk.

Why do we runners keep these facts a secret?  Maybe if we didn’t, more people would jump on the running bandwagon.  They’d realize that their feeling that their body isn’t made for running is just a myth.  Of course our bodies are made for running!  It just hurts getting started.

I run because it gives me such a feeling of accomplishment.  I run long because it is a rare feat.  I run longer because one day, I might not be able to.

I’m not asking you to take up my sport.  My very own husband, although he is proud of me, thinks to himself “what a waste of energy.  Imagine putting that energy into yard work.”

What I’m asking you to do is take up the task that is difficult.  Do the thing that you are not supposed to be able to do.

To me, there’s only one way to run 18 miles.  That way is to run 9 miles away from your car.  There’s only one way back.

It is about setting yourself up for success.  Do it!