Megan Again-Hate Running, Love Nutella
By Megan Wirts
I just ate two pancake covered in Nutella and now I am curled up on the couch, coffee in hand, ready to settle in for a Gilmore Girls marathon in order to be ready for its reboot on Netflix in November.
This sounds like my ideal day, but...
...all I can think about is how I should be running.
I should be tying up my laces and headed out to pound the pavement and work off that Nutella I slathered all over those delicious fluffy pancakes. Seriously though, you guys should try it. Genius idea.
I haven’t gone running in over a year due to my neurological movement disorder, Dystonia, and the multitude of physical problems that it brings. I miss running. I can’t believe I typed that. Me, miss running?! Who am I!? What have I become?! I have always hated running.
Remember running the mile in gym class? Yeah, I hated that. I tried to get out of that horrible rite of passage with every excuse in the book. When I couldn’t convince my PE teacher that I needed to sit it out due to my sudden onset of plantar fasciitis, I would reluctantly lace up my shoes and hope for the best. I would start out feeling like maybe I could do this. “Look at me! I’m a gazelle!”, I would think to myself. Then about 2 minutes into it my side hurt, I couldn’t breathe and I was pretty sure I was about to vomit. I was always the first one to start walking and the last one to finish. I was sweaty, embarrassed and miserable. Running was the worst.
I did not take up running because I wanted to get that runner's high or that it looked like something I would enjoy. I did it because it was free and I could do it anywhere, anytime and because I love things like Nutella and cheesecake and peanut butter pie.
Mmm…Pie…the struggle is real.
Most importantly though, I started running because I needed to get healthier. I also set myself a goal to run a 5k, because well, that is what people do when they start running.
It took a lot of convincing to actually get me started. I could think of a hundred other things I would rather be doing. I would rather take a nice long bath or watch another episode of Game of Thrones. A nap sounded much better than running. I would rather get my teeth cleaned or get a tetanus shot than go running. I would rather clean my cat’s litter box or the bathroom my children share and they are all filthy animals! I would even rather*gasp*, fold laundry, than go running most days and I truly loathe folding laundry.
I would say that I couldn’t run because I had a long day at work, I was tired and the kids needed my attention. My running shorts were in the wash, “guess I better sit it out tonight”, I would say. My pinky toe hurt or I had a hangnail, no running, it would hurt too much.
I had all kinds of excuses, but eventually the excuses would dry up and I would force myself to suck it up and run. When I first started I was out of shape, out of breath and my legs were sore and tired. I kept at it though. Why? Because I was out to prove myself wrong and I am slightly stubborn. I was going to run gosh darn it and I was going to eventually moderately tolerate it!
I eventually grew to moderately tolerate it enough to get me to want to run most days. I loved the way I felt afterwards. I started to crave that feeling. I felt strong and powerful and I didn’t care how sweaty and red faced I was.
I should also add that when I say I was running, it was more like a slow trot with me mumbling swear words and lots of heavy breathing.
Eventually I did get into shape, my calf muscles looked amazing and I could wear dresses that my high school self dreamed about being able to fit into. I also ran that 5k. I laughed and cried when I crossed the finish line and I didn’t even want to throw up! It was a triumphant moment.
Then my brain decided that a fully functioning body was something I shouldn’t have anymore and my life changed. Now I can’t really even walk properly and I’m in pain all the time.
Look, I’m not a wimp. Having passed many kidney stones and birthed two babies , believe me I can handle pain. This is different. This is constant. This is pulling and cramping and uncontrollable muscles spasms with electric shocks to the face and teeth along with terrible vertigo, among other things. It is draining and sometimes unbearable. Yet, I longed for that feeling I got from running (I know…what is wrong with me!?!).
I eventually began physical therapy and learned some skills to help with my balance, vertigo and muscle pain. I learned tai chi and started doing yoga. Modified just for me of course. It felt amazing to actually be doing some type of physical activity no matter how little it was, how ridiculous I looked or how much it hurt afterwards. I was so happy to have found some things that worked for me. Something that made me feel like a freaking warrior princess that can take on the world, even if it wasn’t running anymore. I was doing something.
Honestly, if I could run now, I would probably still be sitting right here on this couch thinking about how I should be running instead of actually running. I would be complaining the whole way. Complaining about having to do yoga or tai chi just isn’t the same. Those both sound dreamy and relaxing. Like I should be standing on a mountain top doing the tree pose while taking in gorgeous views of oceans and wildlife. Why would anyone complain about doing that?
Because reality is that I’m in my living room and my view is a pile of laundry and a dead plant that I keep forgetting to water.
So here I am, going over the list of excuses in my head as to why I should not get off this couch and get into the warrior pose. None of them are good enough, not even the pain I feel in my neck and face right now. I will reluctantly roll out my yoga mat and get into a modified downward facing dog and afterwards I will again feel strong and powerful and happy that I sucked it up and did it. I may always have an excuse, but I am also creative and determined.
Finding my strength has not been easy and there are days when the excuses overtake me and I don’t get off the couch. I don’t let those days define me though. Those days are just part of life, it happens, but most days I do get up and I push my limits.
I tell my children that they need to use their bodies to the best of their abilities. Run, walk, jump, do something! Even if all you can do is just sit in a chair and move your big toe up and down. There are a million excuses in this world that you could use to keep yourself from doing things and taking yourself on adventures.
And not a single one is good enough
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