Real talk.

Real talk.

I’ve had a rough month.  There’s been a few hurdles thrown at me lately, and I want to share those with you, in keeping with my “this is me” philosophy of transparency and honesty.

If you’ve read this blog over the years, you’ve certainly heard me talk about my love of running.  Being a “runner” is a big part of my identity, and it’s something I’ve loved to do since I was a little girl.  As a 12-year-old, I used to get up early on Spring mornings and run down to the end of my small-town street and back before anyone else was awake.  Other times, I would ride my bike over to the school track and run laps just for the peaceful bliss that I knew it would bring.

I didn’t have the vocabulary for it back then, but I do now:

running helps to keep me feeling like me.

I tend to worry about things, and running helps me to worry less.  It helps my mind to stay calm and my energy to stay high.  I’m a happy person at my core, but running simply makes me a happier person; a runner’s high is no joke.

And I think this is the reason that February has felt like such a tough one.  I had a week of a chest cold that wouldn’t let loose, four epic snow/ice/freezing rain storms that made for very tricky conditions, and a stubborn Achilles injury that just won’t cooperate.  My mileage was really low, meaning less fresh air, less group run support, less peace in my brain.  Crossfit helps, yoga helps, workouts in my basement help, but for me, there’s just nothing quite like the run.

Bring on Spring.  Bring on blue skies and clear roads and sunshine on our faces.  Bring on movement and sweat and feel-good hormones.  Bring on friendships and smiles and goals to be chased.

We’ve got this.  Happy March!

march


The Butterdome lesson.

It is amazing what our bodies can do.  In my work, I see injuries recover and people become healthier versions of themselves on the daily.  In my personal life, I am surrounded by runners and Crossfitters, and I see them push themselves to the limits.  And yet, after 12 years in practice and a few decades in sport, I still marvel at the anatomy, the physiology, and the ability of our bodies to adapt, to habituate, to endure.

Let me tell you a story:

This story is about a girl who loves to run.

It’s the early 90’s, in the small town of Sundre, Alberta, and this girl is running the finishing stretch of her County’s cross-country meet.  The meet is being held on her home course, on Sundre’s infamous Snake Hill, and the finishing stretch is along its most feared section, “The Scar.”  The Scar is a punishing portion of trail that traverses the entire side of the hill, complete with a gruelling incline and a bird’s eye view of the finish line.  This girl can hear the crowd below, this girl can feel the adrenaline surging, this girl’s happiness and fulfillment builds.  She can’t articulate it yet, but she can feel it, and she knows she’s found what she loves.

This girl is me.

You see, my high school English teacher was also the cross-country coach, and she took me under her wing.  I trained with a very small group of runners after school, usually just three or four of us running alongside Mrs. Leslie.  We’d head to Snake Hill and we’d run hill repeats, kilometre loops, strides along the trails.  We’d run in the cold Alberta snow and we’d run in the fading light of dusk.  She taught me the power of my legs and my lungs, the welcomed full-body fatigue of a workout, and the sense of accomplishment of a race well run.  It’s only now, as a teacher’s spouse, that I realize the commitment she had to us and the sacrifices she made to share her love of running.  If there’s one person to point to in my running career, it’s her.  She changed my world and burst open a decades-long love affair with a sport that has now become a part of my identity.

I went to the University of Calgary and became a member of the cross-country and track teams.  I was a red-shirt Dino, racing only occasionally, often choosing parties and late nights over the early-morning miles on my training schedule.  My lack of commitment was never more obvious than when I called my Dad in panicked tears, only minutes ahead of my 1000m heat at the University of Alberta’s iconic Butterdome.  “What if I’m last?” I cried, “I’ll be so humiliated.”  In fact, I was last.  But I learned a hard lesson that day: you can’t fake hard work.  There are no shortcuts in running, no cheats, no cutting corners, no easy results.

Then came marathons, and Boston, my coveted finisher’s gold medal at the Around the Bay 30K in 2004, and my third-place finish at the inaugural Mississauga half-marathon.  I was in my twenties, running 100km weeks and going to school, planning my life around my runs, instead of the opposite.  Real-life responsibilities hadn’t quite begun, and I was content to run unceremoniously in a pre-Garmin, pre-Strava, pre-Social Media world.

Running has shifted to more of a background role in my life over the last decade, as I’ve had my children and consistently chosen the convenience and efficiency of CrossFit workouts.  But over the past couple of years, as my kids have grown, so too have my freedom and flexibility, and my mileage has begun to increase once again.  I’ve joined a new running club, and for the past three months I’ve been training hard with them, aiming for some Spring races that I haven’t thought about in years.  I’ve been noticing big changes in my fitness lately and having some breakthrough workouts, and that’s what has prompted this post.  It’s the Butterdome lesson again: you can’t fake hard work.

The 5:30am hill repeats, that 4:45am wake-ups, the -20ºC long runs; it’s all coming together.  It is amazing what our bodies can do.

But you can’t fake hard work.

butterdome track

The University of Alberta’s Butterdome track.


A Place Called Vertigo

There seems to be a vertigo epidemic in my practice as of late.  I’ve had three people in the past month walk through our doors, looking for some relief from their symptoms of vertigo; far and above the four to five cases I typically treat annually.

Vertigo is defined as:

“the sensation of spinning while stationary.”

A specific type of dizziness, vertigo can be unrelenting and difficult to live with, as its sufferers will attest.  But it’s actually quite a common condition, and up to 10% of the population will experience vertigo at some point in their lives.

Can I help?

In short, YES.

A simple procedure, called the Epley maneuver, is very effective for vertigo when an inner ear component is involved.  You see, our inner ear contains the semi-circular canal, which is a key element in our system of balance.  Tiny calcium carbonate crystals are present within our semicircular canal, and their location allows our body to figure out our head position in space.  If the crystals, called otoconia, are disturbed and get into the wrong spot, our equilibrium gets thrown off, and the end result can be vertigo.

 

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The Epley maneuver is painless, takes less than five minutes, and is very effective.  And while I don’t have a double-blind controlled research trial to present to you, I would estimate my success rate with this maneuver to be well upwards of 90%.

Oh, the things you learn on a Tuesday…..