Thursday, June 21, 2012

How I Taught Myself To Run

I was the kind of girl who walked the mile in high school physical education class. A little clump of us non-athletic types would cluster together and gossip as we walked the track around the football field four times. Each time we would pass by the teacher she would scowl and yell out our outrageously excessive time from her stopwatch as she made little witch marks in her demerit book. So needless to say exercise and I didn't get off to a roaring start, until I was in my mid-twenties. There were a few spirts here and there, usually when my social life was totally lagging, where I would get into the gym. But it took that pancreas attack that almost killed me in 2004 for it to become lifestyle. 

And when I finally got on board I was relentless. I started eating good and going to weight training, yoga and pilates classes at the gym. This was no part time affair. It became such a placeholder in my routine my instructor would ask me why I missed if I had to switch my schedule around at work or wasn't feeling well and skipped class. Boy did it show. I got into a size eight for the first time since my wedding and felt pretty darn good about myself. Then I had to do a little tango with that thing called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. As simply moving became increasingly more difficult exercise was quickly thrown to the wayside. I could hardly lift a gallon of milk, let alone my own body weight. Then came the barrage of medications to treat these ailments and my system became a sickly septic cesspool of chemicals and illness. The pounds packed on.

The rare type of strokes I had in 2010 were treated with eight months on high-dose steroids. Everyone said to watch what I eat, I can gain a lot of weight. Quite frankly I was just thrilled to be alive and high on Prednisone so didn't think twice about it. I was invincible! In retrospect I should have just had fat pumped into me, like a reverse liposuction, it torpedoed on so fast. Then getting off that drug knocked me back to square one with managing Fibro. Sigh. I slowly adjusted and two things happened. My brain in mid-repair from strokes started having rage attacks. Then one day I looked in the mirror and didn't recognizing myself in the girl staring back at me. My face was hidden behind three chins, stomach by a foot of padding and the rest puffy and inflamed. The time had come to do something about both my anger issues and weight.

So I decided to teach myself how to run. Now I have Fibro and am pretty realistic about my limitations. I never set out to be a marathon or sprint runner. Having heard interval running was the quickest way to drop weight I modified it for my level of fitness. I walked 90 steps and shuffle/jogged for five. Around and around the block I went, each week taking a few steps from walking and adding them to running. But oh my God I hurt! Upping my pain meds and suffering, it took me a good two to three months before I could drop them back down again and not spend every minute in agony. I still can't do it more than twice a week, I just hurt too freakin' bad. It seemed to work, though. About six months in I went to the doctor and had lost all the Prednisone weight, upwards of 30 lbs., and I was thrilled! It has been over a year now and I run for three or four blocks and walk for half of one. The rest of it isn't coming off nearly as fast but my inches are shrinking and clothes getting loser, meaning I am converting fat to muscle and that works for me. Somewhere in all this I discovered I now actually hurt worse when I don't run. I can't overdo it, but I also rely on it along with yoga for pain management too. It has taken a lot of time and patience and that unwillingness to give up so necessary to surviving life. But I'm pleased I did something I never thought I could do. I can actually run most of a mile.

Thanks for joining,


  1. That's pretty amazing that you can run 3-4 blocks straight!!! I am 55 and was diagnosed with FM in 2007. Right now, I can only do very moderate exercise and it hurts like hell to do it! About 2 weeks ago, I decided to start a running program and take it very slowly. I started on June 16th and I mostly walked, but was able to shuffle/jog for about 30 seconds 3 times during the walk. The next day I hurt so bad and was so tired I almost decided never to do it again. I think I may have asked my husband to shoot me in my delirium, LOL! I tried it again last night after a 3 day rest in between. My husband came with me. I did the same exact routine as the first time, but didn't hurt as bad today. Still hurt alot, mind you, just not quite as much. So I think I'll continue this and see where it takes me. I also need to lose about 40 or 50 lbs. and that's the main reason I decided to start jogging. But I certainly wouldn't call it jogging just yet, definitely shuffling!! THanks for encouraging us fibromyalgics with your blog!

  2. Good for you!!! I have had FMS diagnosis since 2004, I am 55 and about 50 lbs overweight. Since my diagnosis I have fought my way through 2 frozen shoulders with P.T. and a bum knee. After all of that I did 10 months with a personal trainer and weight watchers. After all of that I lost a total of 4 lbs, I was puzzled and then.....BAM!!! Dr. picked up on yearly exam that I am hypothyroid. I have become so discouraged since then and feel like the FMS and the medications have won. The thought of exercising and causing myself more pain is frightening. Your story gives me some hope but damn I hate relying on those pain pills.

    1. Short story: exercise is my cure for fibro. But fat doesn't turn into muscle. Fat is lost and muscle is built. But no transformation a la alchemy.

  3. To say how happy I am for proud I am for you would be an understatement! This is such an encouraging post, and I thank you so much. If you can do it, so can I. Keep up the work both physically and in sharing your story!

  4. Great work. Have found cutting carbs to a bare minimum (100grams/day) eating protein and fibre at every meal has allowed me to loose fat weight and gain muscle. I am following a program devised by my dr who has a lot of success with fibro - this also includes supplements

  5. This is very encouraging. I was diagnosed in February of this year..I kniw when I move I hurt less over time. I have been considering running and your blog was very helpful. Thank you!