This post is dedicated to a dear friend of mine who very recently made the decision that she needs to go inpatient.
“You can do this.”
November 12, 2011, marked a big milestone for me. The culmination of two years of running, six weeks of physical therapy, and over three months of intense training all added up to my sprinting across the finish line for the Richmond Half Marathon – a total distance of 13.1 miles. Not to mention, none of it would have been possible if I was not recovered.
The past few months, I’ve found myself a little excited to talk to people about it and discuss things like training and nutrition. I’ve gotten up early in the morning to make sure I have time to go running before work, and eat a good breakfast to support all the extra activity I’ve been doing. As I got further into training and my days and weeks were being planned around my training schedule, I realized just how similar it was to recovery.
When you first decide you want and need to recover, it can seem daunting. It feels like such a faraway goal that sometimes it’s easy to get discouraged. I’ve seen friends who want to so badly to be “fully recovered” that they become impatient with the recovery process. And who can blame them? It’s so easy to say, “I want to get better!,” but actually doing it can be challenging.
Well, in August when I decided I wanted to run a half marathon, it was easy to say I wanted to. If I had woken up the very next morning and tried to run 13 miles, though, I have no doubt I would have hurt myself. I hadn’t ran in about three months, so just getting through a comparatively short distance like three miles was a challenge. It was a day by day, meal by meal, run by run process.
An important part of recovery is re-establishing a healthy relationship with food. Training for the half marathon was almost like learning to eat all over again – your body needs a lot more protein, iron, and water (just to name a few) to support running long distances. Don’t eat properly to support all that extra activity, and you risk getting sick, hurting yourself, or both.
And then there’s training itself. As you work your way up to longer running distances, you can’t increase too much too soon. A general rule is to not increase your distance by more than 20%. Sometimes it could be tempting to push myself further than whatever we were running on a given week (we being the training team I was on – Go Cheetahs!), but all the coaches warned against that. Too much too soon, and you’ll set yourself back. It was far more important to meet small goals, one by one, and pay attention to the feedback my body gave me along the way. If you get too focused on the finish line, you stop paying attention to the ground under your feet, and you’re more likely to stumble or trip. The only way I was going to reach 13.1 miles was to run the 12 miles preceding it, and recovery is no different – you gotta put in the work and be focused on caring for yourself in every facet.
When I was in recovery and would feel discouraged, or not be as far along as I thought I ‘should be’, I would say to myself, “You can do this.” The eating disorder loves to tell you all the things you can’t do, but I’m far more interested in what I can do. I’ve found myself in a position of support and mentoring to a few friends who are in recovery in recent years, and it’s become my recover mantra: “You can do this.” I find myself saying that to myself now as I approach the end of a long run and I’m getting tired – you can do this. Keep going.
Well, on race day, something happened that caught me off guard. As I got in my starting wave and we were moving towards the starting line, I actually got a little choked up. I looked up and saw the “Richmond Half Marathon” sign, heard all the people up and down the course cheering, and did some final stretching. Taking it all in, I started smiling so big, I got teary-eyed. “I am doing this.” I finished in 2 hours, 32 minutes, and 14 seconds.
My race was also a fundraiser for the Eating Disorders Coalition, which is at about $1,500 of my $2,000 goal. I did a write-up on the race and what it means to me personally with regard to my health/life and getting recovered, which you can read here. My goal was to have it all in by the race, but I have until the end of the year. Please consider donating if you can- anything you can spare goes directly to help the EDC continue it’s fight to make eating disorders get recognized as a public healthy priority.
My questions to you: In what other areas of your life have you found yourself applying recovery? Do you have a recovery mantra of your own?