Tuesday, November 5, 2013

And yet another reason I love running...

Just when I think I can't love running any more than I already do -- when I think I know all the reasons I love to run -- I get hit over the head with the realization that I've missed something.  Something important that running brings to my life and yet I wasn't even aware of the connection.

Anyone who reads my blog knows that my writing has slowed way down in recent months.  Waaaaay down.  As in, I haven't posted anything since September.  I know that "they" say the key to a successful blog is to post often -- sometimes multiple times a day -- in order to keep readers engaged.  Clearly, having a successful blog using that definition has never been my goal.  I write simply because I love to write and because I want to connect with others who share common interests and goals.

I never pressure myself to write and give myself the freedom to do it only when the words come on their own.  I hadn't given it much thought but assumed I wasn't writing lately because I have been injured for months and haven't been running.  Yes, some of my posts have nothing to do with running but, for the most part, they are fairly running-related.  (I am, after all, the Happy Running Mama!)

However, two nights ago, I woke up in the middle of the night and felt like my head was going to explode.  Not because I drank too much wine the night before but because I had so many thoughts and ideas floating through my head.  When I am asleep and dreaming, the creative part of my brain lights up like fireworks at night.  If I could just hop out of bed at 2am and sit down at my computer, I know the words would flow like water from a spout.

But, lately, all those thoughts and ideas dissipate into the dark recesses of my mind by the time I sit down at my computer.  This is due mostly to the fact that my writing takes place after the mind-numbingly painful first hour of the day.  The hour that involves getting three kids up, fed and dressed as well as getting lunches made, the kitchen cleaned and all three dropped off at school.  That hour seeps not only the creativity but also some of the optimism right out of me.  That hour is, by far, the most challenging hour of my day.

In months past, I would go for a run immediately after dropping the kids off.  It might be cold, rainy, foggy or windy but I would lace up my shoes and head out the door.  When I returned, I would often sit at my computer and the thoughts would come to me quicker than I could type them.

Circling back to the point of my post (finally), what I realized is that my creative juices flow on a run the same way they do in my sleep.  My mind wanders free during a run and goes places I don't normally go during a day filled with driving the kids places, doing laundry and refereeing fights.  I never realized before that running gives me the time and space to daydream.  To let my imagination run wild. To fill me back up with hope and optimism for not only the future but even just to make it through the day.  And this has all been missing from my life for the past few months.

So, yes, I suppose in a sense I haven't been writing because I haven't been running.  But it has nothing to do with writing about running and everything to do with the creativity and freedom and passion that running brings to my life.  A new reason to love running that I never realized until today.

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I will be surprised if anyone is still reading this after all that rambling and I'm not sure it all even made sense to anyone but me!  But just in case someone is still there, I'll give a little update on the last few months...

As far as my injury goes, I have been diagnosed with something called chrondomalacia.  Basically, the cartilage under my knee is a little rough and that is where all the pain is coming from.  The damage to the cartilage is permanent and surgery is not really recommended or very successful in fixing this problem so I am left with few options.  Mostly, I am focused on strengthening my glutes and improving the flexibility in my hips.  These changes will, hopefully, help pull my kneecap so it is tracking correctly and will keep the pain at bay.  At the same time, I am constantly icing and taking ibuprofen in order to decrease any inflammation under the kneecap.

While it has been a long road, I am optimistic that things are finally starting to improve.  Last week, I was able to run a mile with no (additional) pain in my knee!  Without a doubt, it was one of the happiest miles of my life and I was grateful for every step of it.  If all goes well, I will very slowly and carefully continue to increase my mileage and hope to be running longer distances soon.

The rest of my life has been busy with family activities, including my niece's first birthday party, a trip to the pumpkin patch, lots and lots of soccer games, a weekend in Vegas and Halloween.  All of this is most easily shared through pictures...

my little niece...who needs hands to eat cake?!

Ian and my dad at my niece's party

a rare night of dress-up for J and me

first day of soccer practice

watching my oldest play soccer

beautiful October morning spent kayaking with a dear friend

Oregon Ducks game with friends

weekly Wednesday coffee date

one of the many days in October when I looked outside and wished I could go for a run

one of the last pictures where I am still taller than my son

Vegas at 7pm

Vegas at 3am (like many things in life that seemed like a good idea at the time....)

family pic

Now that October has left us and taken with it the beautiful Indian Summer we were experiencing, the dark, dreary days seem to have arrived for good.  Although I will miss the sunshine and the warmth that it brings, I look forward to Thanksgiving with gratitude.

Does anyone else find they are more creative after a run??

- Kristen

24 comments:

  1. Oh K - I feel your pain AND your insight. I agree - running gives me the freedom to think things through and also sometimes to just let thoughts run on - I'm not trying to will them in any direction. I'm so sorry that your knee is still giving you trouble. If it is any help - I was diagnosed with the same thing years ago. I was told I would probably not run again and that if I did I needed keyhole surgery. I saw all sorts of doctors / physios / quacks and ended up with a marathon running osteo who loosened my ITB (and has been doing that ever since) and while my knees are still not amazing, I can run without pain. I hope that is your story too. I am SO looking forward to seeing you in April and talking and running and drinking some beers together - cannot wait!

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    1. Hi Petra! I am so happy to hear that you received the same diagnosis years ago and now you are not only running marathons but training for an Ironman. Nothing could make me more optimistic than hearing that from you! :) I am so excited for April, too, and know we will have so much fun together. It will be here before you know it!

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  2. I could NOT agree more with every bit of this post. I also have been absent from the blogging world feeling like I don't have a great deal to say and I don't like forcing it. When I'm on a run, I sometimes write an entire post in my head. It all sounds so perfect but then I wait too long and by the time I sit down with my laptop, it's all gone.

    I'm glad you finally have an answer regarding your knee. It sounds awful but at least now you know what you're dealing with. It's good to hear you're getting back to running, slowly but surely! I ran 6 miles last night and 7 miles about a week ago, but that's the farthest I've run in quite awhile. It's amazing how excited I get over 6 and 7 miles now when that used to be a short run. I'm just grateful to be running!

    I miss those angelic little faces. The kids looked adorable on Halloween!!

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    1. Ha! I do the same thing -- write an entire post in my head and then oftentimes will lose it before I write it out. Oh well. At least we know the thoughts are in there somewhere and will come out eventually, right?!

      I would love to run 6 miles right now, especially with you! But in the meantime, yes, it is good to at least know what I'm dealing with and have a plan of attack.

      The girls miss you, too! Did you post any Halloween pics of yourself?? I'm sure you did something fun and amazing! I still want to hear more about your trip to Thailand... Miss you. xo

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  3. Hi you. OH I can relate with you so well here Kristin! I've written about this before too...my passions and writing voice diminishes so much when I can't run. They are definitely connected!! I know that you'll hold on to this feeling you get when you run and you'll get there again...you sound optimistic and hopeful and that counts for so much! I love all your pictures here...so much joy in your life. Wish I could give you running again!!

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    1. Hey you. It is so interesting how running helps us tap into our creative side and gives us the space to dream. I can't wait for you to get back to Portland so we can go on some trail runs together and RUN HAPPY!!

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  4. Kristen, I sure hope that all works out and you will find a relatively pain free way to continue running without causing further injury to the cartilage in your knee because MY mind is opened up so much more when I read your posts! :) And I'd hate for you to lose that creativity and ability to let your mind wander & daydream like you're able to do when you run. And while I hope that running is the outlet, my challenge to you is to find a back up outlet. Yoga, kayaking/SUP, anything that gives you that mental break that allows you to decompress and get your creative juices flowing. You are so creative and thoughtfully reflective on all that you experience that I bet you can find an additional outlet that gives you some of the emotional/spiritual benefits you receive from running.

    And yes, the pics of the family are just precious! I especially love Mia in her soccer outfit!

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    1. Jamie, you are so right that I need to find a backup outlet (have you been talking to my husband?!). I had a great time kayaking with you so maybe I need to get a kayak. ;). But seriously, I do need to find more things that give me the mental break and allow me the freedom to dream. And you are sweet to say all those nice things about my writing! Although it is a completely different form of exercise, I am debating starting a little love affair with yoga...

      Little Mia does look so cute in that picture. She was SO excited to play soccer like her big brother! Xo

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  5. I had never thought about exercise and creativity, but you are so right! I do so much thinking and working through things in my head during a workout. I'm sorry to hear about your injury. I hope you are still able to find some creative and physical outlets, whilst you are taking time to recover.

    Despite less running, it looks like you had a nice October! Your kids are adorable! That first soccer practice photo is to die for! And love the Halloween pic of you all!

    I'm glad I'm not the only mum who finds the mornings stressful! I don't have to get mine out the door, but I still find it a struggle. They always wake up fighting. Gah. Ah well, thank goodness they are all so sweet!

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    1. Jess, YES, mornings are just so hard!! No matter how prepared I am before they get up (breakfast made, lunches made, etc.), I can never control the grumpiness and the fighting that starts the minute they wake up! Maybe I need to start having my coffee before they get up instead of waiting until after school drop off. :) And, yes, they always surprise me with their sweetness just when I am ready to give up!

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  6. Stinks you have an injury like that. Hopefully you can fix it enough to run comfortably. I love the family pictures! I do feel a little more creative when I run. It's only because that is a time that I can just let my mind wander. Things come to me a little easier.

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    1. Hearing of others who have been diagnosed with the same thing and are not only continuing to run but are training for Ironmans(!!) gives me a lot of hope. I suppose it is no wonder we can work through so many things while out running since we all feel the freedom to let our minds wander...

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  7. Kristen, you have inspired me from day one................. My running year stared after Julie passed away from cancer . I started running out of anger. Anger that I lost my best friend, anger that I couldn't help her, anger that she had to suffer so long. I guess I was trying to run from my grief and pain. In this year I have ran past my pain, away from my grief, and along side all the emotions that came along with it. I have learned that I am stronger than I ever thought I was, both mentally and physically.
    When I run I don't think of work, bills, kids, errands, appointments, and other daily things. I run and I notice the sunshine, the trees, the birds, the fresh air. I think of my friend and how I have lost her but I'm not sad anymore. I have found my outlet and it feels good. When I run my mind is full of the happy things in my life. Thank you Kristen for inspiring me on this running journey of mine.

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    1. Sarah, I have been AMAZED by you this past year and how far you have come in your running and how it has strengthened you as a person. So amazed!! I have never lost someone as close to me as you have with your friend, Julie, so I can only imagine what it must feel like. She was lucky to have you there with her right until the very end.

      And I love that you have found something that allows you to forget about all the daily stresses of life and gives you the opportunity to notice the beauty that surrounds you. So, so happy for you!! xo

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  8. I write some of my best posts when I'm out on a run. I just have to remember to keep it all in my brain by the time I sit down to the computer. So, I completely understand and it wasn't rambling.

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    1. Ha! Yes, the hard part is trying to keep it all in your brain until you can finish your run and sit down at the computer!

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  9. I completely relate to what you are writing about in the top part of your post. So many wonderful witty blog posts have come into my head during a long run. Then as soon as I walk into the door they evaporate into thin air- the result of being a mom with kids home all day!
    I am glad to see you writing again. It is truly one of your gifts, as are the wonderful photos you take.
    Warm hugs to you! Enjoy your careful increases , Kristen.

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    1. It sounds like all of us experience the same thing -- thoughtful, creative ideas come to us during our run and the challenge is trying not to lose them when we re-enter our lives the minute we walk through the front door!

      I'm going to send you an email, too, to get your advice on a training schedule for the next few weeks. :)

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  10. Kristen I love your writing and will continue to read as long as you write! I've been in a really similar place with both writing posts in my head (and losing them before typing) and wonderful family busy-ness. I'm so sorry to hear about your knee but so so happy that things seem to be moving in the right direction as far as pain and running goes. I've been nursing a minor injury and haven't been running as much lately, but I normally do what you did... drop the kids off and go run! I miss that and am reminded just how much I love the routine. Healing wishes coming your way!

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    1. On top of not writing much, I feel bad that I haven't been keeping up with reading many blog posts. I am going to head over to your blog and see what you have been up to!! Hope your minor injury is gone soon and that you are back to doing more of what you love. :)

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  11. No question! Although for me, I'm not sure that the run really gets my creative juices flowing, or if it just helps me keep all the persistent, pesky, invasive, day-to-day thoughts/troubles/worries to rest for awhile, so I can actually let the creativity floooooow.

    [Not that we should overstate my natural level of creativity, which isn't really very high to begin with.]

    And, as mentioned above, when I *do* happen to have a really good idea/thought/list/post germinate while I'm running, I spend the rest of the run trying like crazy to hold it in my head until I can write it down!

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    1. Haha -- I didn't mean to overstate my natural level of creativity, either!!

      I think, for many of us, we literally can't do anything about laundry or dinner or to-do lists while we are out running. So just getting away from those things gives us the chance to let our minds wander. Just another reason running (or something similar) is so important!

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  12. Enjoyed the reading! Such posts are real motivation for beginners like me. I am also searching through internet for other interesting blogs for athletes, and one of my favourite ones is http://bit.ly/Qh9G8S. They write a lot about proper nutrition, workouts and exercising. They also share various researches in this sphere, which could be interesting and useful for all athletes

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