I had an awesome weekend. It’s taken me this long to sort out what I want to write about, and I couldn’t pick just one thing. So it’s everything.
On Saturday, I was part of the “Scots on the Run” as part of the Calgary Highland Games. While maybe not as hardcore as the Caber Toss or the Braemar Stone throw, it was a lot of fun. It was a 5k race around the Games, so I got to hear all the bagpipers warming up for the day, and some of the dancers practicing. After the race, some of the other events were started so I got a chance to watch them. I didn’t do the traditional kilt practice of going commando and wore leggings underneath my kilt. I didn’t think chafing first thing in the morning would be a lot of fun. I guess I am a disgrace to my Scottish heritage. I bet my ancestors would have just endured the chafing. The kilt I am wearing in the photo is the Calgary tartan. I’ve done that race for the last 5 years, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking to take part in a fun race. It’s also a fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society.
Jumping topics, on Tuesday I went for my first run wearing compression socks. I know people who LIVE by them. They have compression socks, compression calf sleeves, compression leggings, compression arm sleeves. I see runners all the time decked out in the full compression gear. My understanding is that they are the best for longer distances to improve circulation and prevent swelling. So I bought myself a fancy neon pink pair of compression socks and prepared myself to be AMAZED.
It was horrible.
It was like the blood was being completely cut off from my legs and feet. My thighs started to ache, which has not happened before while running. I thought maybe since they were best for longer distances that after I hit the 5k mark that it would feel better. Nope. Maybe after 10k? Nope. By the 16k mark I was in so much discomfort (aka agony) I just went home. Despite that my running schedule had 29k, I was still 13k away from that point. My legs just hurt so much. I doubt I could have endured the additional 13k. It would have been uncomfortable if not downright painful. I hate not reaching my goals, especially when I know that I need to be doing so for marathon prep, but there was really no way I was finishing that training with those socks. When I got home and stripped them off, the blood rushed into my legs and gave me pins and needles. I still had to have an ice bath to prevent swelling.
What did I learn? Although everyone and their dog love compression socks, they just weren’t working for me (I do know some people who don’t love them). As much as I wanted them to work and get to have this fantastic accessory to my running, my body was having NONE of it. I had to listen to my body. This applies in so many situations. This is in athletics, this is in life. There is a degree to which pushing through is necessary. If everything was easy, nothing would be a challenge. If everything was easy, it wouldn’t be as worth it. Pushing oneself is important sometimes. On the other hand, there are times when we have to recognize that it is not healthy or safe. There are mornings where I wake up and I realize I am just not going to be able to run right away. Sometimes I wait until later in the day, sometimes it doesn’t happen. I have to make up the distance the next day. We have to be intuitive and listen to ourselves. It might be a particular injury, or it might be just a “feeling”. It’s more important to take care of ourselves. When we push beyond our limits or don’t listen to what our bodies are telling us, that’s when injuries happen. That’s also when we start to resent our activities. If all I felt was suffering and pain when running long distances, I could be inclined to stop entirely. It’s about identifying what is happening, why, and what the most appropriate solution is.
So even though running with the compression socks was not the best experience for me, it reminded me at this point, when I’m running 50+k a week and a month away from the marathon, that it is particularly important for me to listen to my body. It was awesome because it didn’t result in an injury and reminded me of a very important part of being athletic and epileptic.
In total honesty, there are days when listening to my body means sitting in bed from the moment I get home from work and watching superhero movies while stuffing my face with popcorn instead of an actual dinner. I accept that those evenings are sometimes listening to what my body needs. That is when I am sore, when I am tired, or when I just don’t have the motivation to go out. Those evenings are also done knowing that the next day I WILL go out and meet my goals.
Lastly, I got a chinchilla. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a small animal that looks like Stitch from Disney’s Lilo & Stitch. They have super big round ears and fluffy fur. They are super smart and have little paw-hands rather than claws. His name is Pepper and he’s just the cutest little thing ever. He has a four-floor condo in my house and is already getting to be a spoiled little boy.