Thursday, June 25, 2015

Recovery at One Year: A Part-time Runner

It's been one year since I found myself in an ambulance, speeding down the interstate, on the way to St. Cloud Hospital for emergency life-saving surgery due to a heart attack.

One year.
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That year has been spent well, I think. I've followed doctors' orders, I've made tweaks to my diet (really eliminating saturated fats and especially animal fats), stayed consistent with exercise, and tried hard to adapt to my cocktail of medications.

Overall, I'm just damn glad to be around to complain about all of the above!

One of the bigger changes in my life I suppose is that I'm really just a part-time runner now. I spent so many years - decades actually - running nearly every day. I was never quite able to be one of those so-called "streakers" (people who literally run every single day for years and years), usually due to some illness or injury or more-important life event. I did once have a streak of 1805 consecutive days running (that's 4 years, 11 months and 9 days - for those who are counting). That streak came to a stop because of a bad case of the flu that put me in bed for a few days. During that streak, I ran 15,372 miles for an average of 8.5 miles per day. Seems impossible to me now! Last thing about that streak: it was a rather long time ago, ending in 1986, the last year (I think, but correct me if I'm wrong) that gas prices in the US dipped below $1 per gallon. Ah, yes, 1986.

Fast forward to today: By part-time runner, I mean that I'm able to run a bit, but just not every day - and not by a long shot. I get too sore, I get too tired. Typically, I can get out 2 or 3 times in any given week. I am able to go 6-8 miles each time, so I'm not a non-runner by that measure. My other days are focused on cycling or sweating it out on the elliptical. I have been able to exercise almost every day so far in 2015, hopefully that will continue.

But I confess that I do miss running every day. It had a kind of consistent rhythm that grounded me in so many ways. Somehow alternative exercises just don't quite hit the same notes for me, psychologically.

But you know what? I'll take it!

At least I can still get out there and put in a few miles. And deep in my heart I'm not giving up just yet. Perhaps modern medicine will find ways to keep my cardiac issues at bay and allow me to slowly rebuild without all of the side effects holding me back. Time will tell. Hey, maybe arterial plaque-eating nanobots!
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Lesson: Never take for granted your days of running. Revel in the feeling, appreciate the opportunity you have to be completely alive and testing yourself physically in such a natural way. Every run is a kind of mini-miracle, try not to forget that.