My love/hate relationship with running started ten years ago when, as a bit of a big talker, I told my manager that I could whip his ass in a half marathon and he called my bluff and got me to sign up for one. I may talk before I think, but I am also a practical woman. I joined a training group and managed to go from never having run to completing a half marathon in three months. It was an incredibly emotional event for me, having never been considered particularly sporty, I had overcome not only a physical challenge but psychological battle to complete the run.
I’ve always found running challenging and I always procrastinate about going out, but I do love setting, and achieving, goals, no matter how big or how small. While I might have started out with an ambitious goal, over the years I’ve found I prefer a shorter distance and happily high five myself at the end of a 5km run.
At my first appointment with my oncologist, she drilled into me the importance of staying active during treatment and even told me of women who ran during chemo. I looked at her with hope. Then I had my first chemo. And I was bombed out of my brain and knocked on my ass. Any image I had of juicing and running through treatment vanished.
I’m finally starting to recover physically, while I am building my strength through walking, swimming and the odd pilates class, I’ve been advised that I need to do weight bearing exercises such as running to reduce my risk of osteoporosis, which increases with early onset menopause.
I am finally strong enough to contemplate running, although I know it will be extra challenging as I am now 14kg overweight.
When I was first told I was sick, I envisioned very thin cancer patients, but between chemo induced menopause, steroids to reduce nausea, inactivity, comfort eating, stress eating, eating whatever doesn’t make you sick during chemo, eating all those chocolate gifts and hormone therapy induced menopause I, and many other women, gained a substantial amount of weight during treatment. When you have one or both of your breasts removed, this becomes even more pronounced. Breasts disguise one’s stomach, or at least blocks it from view when you look down. We refer to our changed bodies as buddha belly, a roly-poly belly with nothing to hide it.
Because of my love/hate relationship with running, bitterly cold European winters and injuries, I’ve had to start many times. Each time it is overwrought with emotion, anticipation and stress, but none more so than today.
I set out with a modest goal to do my water tower loop with four one minute running intervals and two minute walking intervals. A total of four minutes running. Even though it was modest, I was quite nervous as it has been ten months since my last run.
I set off with my buddha belly bouncing until it itched, my remaining breast was surprisingly tender, I’ll need to work out how to give it more support, and my ankles ached, partly from the additional weight on them and partly from being unused to the balance required for running. I felt super smug as I still felt okay at the end of each interval, and was ready to start again before my recovery time was up. And I did it! And I burst into tears at the end. So proud!
Starting off from a low base, similar to my swimming, will make it far less intimidating, will give me something to work up from and give me a perverse sense of pleasure every time I go out and go a little further. I feel like I’m winning today.
Distance swum since last post: 1.3km
Distance swum to date: 2.3km
Distance to go: 197.7km