A Run Cut Short and What Lit the Fitness Fire

Thursday was supposed to be my final workout of week #1 in the C25K program, but it was not so. Everything was going well and then I felt a pull in my left calf. It was on the inside of the leg, about half way between knee and ankle. It didn’t feel like a cramp; it felt more like a tendon was being pulled. It was pretty darn painful. So I cut the run short and limped home with all the resolve to have a do-over. And I did – two days later my second try went just fine. No pulling, no pain, and I completed week #1! Woohoo!

One suggestion from you all was to invest in, and be properly fitted for, a good pair of running shoes. I went to Fleet Feet Sports on Wade Avenue and did exactly that. The sales associate measured my feet both sitting and standing, watched me walk, and spent a lot of time talking with me about my running experience, daily routine, and what shoes I wear on a regular basis. After all of that, he brought out a pair of shoes that he felt would work best for me. They felt great! I tried on four different pairs of shoes, all of which felt like fluffy little clouds on my feet. I bought the pair with the most cushion beneath the arch. We talked a lot about my arches and the plantar fasciitis thing. It boiled down to doing everything to prevent that from ever happening again.

So many pretty colors!
The newbies. The appropriately-named Cumulus 15 by Asics.

Now let’s address the elephant in the room, shall we? I’ve made it no secret that I do not like exercising. Not even a little bit (so noted in this post). It has always bored me, been too difficult, or I just plain would rather be doing anything else. So how is it that I’m suddenly getting all fit up in here? Exercise is a huge piece of the cancer prevention puzzle, and once you’ve had cancer, your goal is to prevent a second cancer in another part of the body (2nd cancers are typically treatable but not curable).

We’ve been told and retold that we should maintain a healthy weight and get cardio and strength training on a regular basis. I emphasize the ‘and’ there because we often fall under the false perception that if someone is not overweight, well they must be physically fit (i.e. healthy), right? Not so. Read this now and hate me later: I am naturally thin. I’ve told you about my crazy metabolism. I have never dieted, and I have seldom stuck to an exercise routine. Lucky? Absolutely. But even though being overweight is a risk factor for breast cancer, look who was just as susceptible. Simply being thin does not mean you are fit (insert raised eyebrows and pursed lips). Exercise is important for everyone.

We certainly can’t chalk this up solely to my sedentary lifestyle though. There are likely multiple contributing factors here. Poor diet, never had children, age, just to name a few. But even though I’m not pinning this fiasco entirely on the lack of exercise, I’m sure as heck not going to take the chance of that contributing to a second cancer. In addition to completely changing my diet (I eat clean these days), I’m also injecting a good dose of physical fitness – forever. There is no better motivator than serious contemplation of your own mortality. It’s quite a kick in the pants.

Props to the YMCA for jump-starting my exercise program. I know you totally just sang Yyy Mmm C-A, Yyy Mmm C-A-A! A fellow patient at the cancer center mentioned a program the Y was doing for survivors. I got out the Google and found they were offering the program right here in Raleigh – super! I emailed the contact person and wouldn’t you know they were starting a new session in a couple of weeks – even better! And the news just kept getting better. The LiveStrong program through the Y is free to any cancer survivor at any time in their life – score!

Post-workout chair stretching.
I look freakishly happy about it!

So I did the 12-week program and we met twice a week for a one-hour workout. There were five of us who completed the whole shebang. There was a bit of support group time incorporated into the “stretch and reflect” period at the end of each workout. It was good to spend time with folks who were navigating the cancer path too.  It was a wonderfully positive experience and it allowed me to sample different types of exercise, equipment, and classes. My favorite was restorative yoga – no surprise there (low impact, not strenuous). I think it pairs well with the running too. Good stretching is so important if you’re going to do any running. And when I say running, you know I mean jogging (sometimes shuffling).

It turns out the LiveStrong program was the transition I needed into my newly found healthy lifestyle. Isn’t it nice how so often just what you need is placed right in front of you? Folks, I think that’s called grace.

Will running & yoga be my “thing” forever? Probably not. I’m sure right about when I get all comfy and settled into it I’ll change it up. I’ll keep you posted!