Playing Catch Up…Again

I realize it’s been a while since I’ve written an entry (two whole months to be exact!). To be honest, I’ve been very busy, but also very unmotivated, and it has been a struggle. I earned a couple more marathon states, got a new autoimmune disease diagnosis, and have been working on a new training plan while recovering from a minor running injury. While I WILL eventually write my race recaps (I don’t know why these are so hard for me, but they truly are…it can be kind of hard to write about a small race where the miles just sort of blur together) I figured I would play some catch up.

But here’s the skinny on my life as of late:

!) I have a new auto-immune disease called Sjögren’s syndrome. I was bluntly told by the rheumatologist that if you have one autoimmune disease (and I already have celiac disease,so it’s a little more common with us 1%ers), you usually have a couple more, so this is at least one of them. Sjögren’s is actually a little more common than celiac, and affects over 4 million people (in fact, Venus Williams has it and has spoken out about the difficulties she’s faced with it). It is a disease that eventually destroys the exocrine glands that create natural moisture for the body, meaning salivary and tear ducts to name a few. Other symptoms include arthritis in the hands (check), joint pain, and extreme fatigue (oh yes, double check). People with Sjögren’s often also have or eventually develop lupus, thyroid disease, and sometimes even more serious things like lymphoma…something else I just may get to look forward to down the road, but let’s just take one thing at a time, shall we? I can’t live my life worrying about what-ifs. After all, my husband has much potential to develop lymphoma as well, thanks to all of his cancer treatments, but we simply can’t wring our hands and worry every day about this possibility. You just need to live one day at a time.

Overall I’d say the fatigue has been the most crippling. I honestly feel like a narcoleptic some days, and it’s pretty frightening. You know that buzzy, jet-lagged feeling you get when you go for over 24 hours without sleep? That’s how I feel almost all the time. If I have a weekday where I need to do a training run in the afternoon, I have to sleep at LEAST an hour before I can handle it.  I really hate feeling this need to sleep my life away, because I honestly used to think I was a person full of boundless energy, and lately I feel like I can barely get through the day. I’m hoping when I see the doctor in a couple weeks I can address the issue and he can advise how to battle the fatigue. I find it’s really been putting a damper on my quality of life and drive to achieve my goals.

But I’ve been getting a handle on it, got some new prescriptions and hopefully will adjust in time. I love how I went from happily being med-free to suddenly having to go to CVS ALL the time! Between Chris and I, we’re like old people WAY before our time. It’s almost laughable. Almost.

2) Speaking of goals, I ran my 20th marathon and 17th state on June 14th. I returned to Feud Country and ran the Hatfield McCoy reunion marathon in order to earn West Virginia, and it was definitely worth it. I got to meet some Twitter friends, fellow Maniacs, and really enjoyed the weekend…I just ran it with a shin issue and Asics that were way past their prime, and pretty much ran myself into a two week recovery period where I wasn’t able to run because I developed a calf strain that took some time to heal. But the two week healing period was very beneficial for me, which I will explain.

3) I decided to change my training plan for my upcoming marathon season. In the past I relied on lots of mileage, and…that’s it. No yoga, no cross training, no weights, no stretching. I had the stamina and endurance to run and complete a marathon, but I have sort of hit a wall as to my finish times. When I PR’d back in 2011 (sigh, ah the sweet memory) that was also the year I did a full 3 months of P90X and high mileage training. My body held on to that conditioning and I ran a sub-4 easily. While I can’t commit to marathon training AND P90X, I do want to focus on more weights, yoga and cross training so I am a more well-rounded runner. So instead of running 6-7 days a week, I’m running 5. I am maxing out my top weekly mileage at 60 for the week so I can spend more time on my conditioning. I’m dedicating time to yoga, arms, core strength and leg strength. I’m even getting back into Pilates on my longer mileage days. Has it helped? Only time will tell. Has it hurt? Absolutely not. I’m currently still working on walk/run intervals with my running to ensure I won’t have a relapse with the calf, but it’s been going well, and I’m hoping I can start working a little more on speed.

4) Nutrition-wise I am doing well, and eating pretty clean. I’m trying to focus more on healthy fats and lean protein, and my afternoon snacks (which used to be very carb-y things like bowls of cereal or tortilla chips and hummus) are now things like spoonful of peanut butter or an ounce of cheese or almonds. And after years of letting it collect dust, Chris and I are now using the slow cooker more. In the summer it’s tough to cook, but the slow cooker keeps the kitchen cool, and also yields a TON of leftovers. So Monday is his day to get that thing running so we can have leftovers for a good part of the week. Leftovers means much more time for me to focus on training and getting extra rest, plus it’s great to have him help with the cooking!

So for now, that’s it. I have a lull with races until September, and then it officially kicks in with a possible four marathons this fall (three I’m officially registered, the other I’m 90% sure I’m running it). So I’m hoping with a strong training plan, good nutrition focusing on lots of whole foods, lean protein and good fats (avocados are seriously my favorite food!), plus extra rest when I need it, will allow me to start running better and reach that sub-4 goal again someday. Will I PR this year? Doubtful, as the races are all hilly and challenging, but I won’t know until I get there. In the meantime, I’m just going to work hard, persevere, enjoy the journey, and never give up!