Barefoot Monologues

A Journey of the Sole


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Guest Post: An IBRD Gift from Lynsey and FuzzyFeet

Hello Barefoot Runners!

This year FuzzyFeet decided to sponsor TheNakedFoot5k, so that its awesomeness could be spread across the country.  If you live under a rock and haven’t heard of Naked Foot here’s the lowdown:

NakedFoot considers itself the ‘ultimate outdoors lifestyle festival for everything that represents an active, healthy and natural lifestyle.’   It is also the nation’s first barefoot-optional 5k series.  Before and after the race you can sample clothing, food, and minimalist footwear.  Foot massages and games are available after the race.

Entering a barefoot-friendly running event is awesome; I know because I attended the St. Augustine race.  But you know what makes a race even more fun?

DISCOUNTED ENTRY FEE!

So, Happy IBRD to everyone.  Register for a Naked Foot race at Active.com and enter code NF5K2012 to receive $5 off your individual entry.

Also, everyone who lets me know they used this code will be entered to win a free pair of FuzzyFeet.  Simply send me a Facebook message telling me which race you entered.  I’ll randomly draw a name on May 12th.  And I promise, no spam!

Happy running!
-Lynsey

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Guest Post: Tips for Surviving Long-Term Recovery

Your week used to consist of high mileage, complicated yoga, and explosive plyometrics.  And then, cue the horror music, you became injured.

You were doing everything right – saw a Doctor, reduced your exercise load, and took the recommended rest days. A speedy recovery looked promising until the Doctor said those words all active people fear – It’s going to be awhile until you’re allowed to do that again.  Now your injury requires long-term recovery and there’s no standard timetable dictating how long you’ll be off your game.

Here are a few tips for surviving your long-term recovery and hopefully avoid filling what seems like a prescription for insanity.

1. Accept your limitations

Don’t waste time comparing what seems like pre-injury awesomeness with post-injury mediocrity; there is no comparison.  Your body is re-cov-er-ing. The pain, inflammation, and stiffness you feel is your body’s way of protecting itself from further injury. These symptoms will dissipate and you’ll be back to normal, eventually. Complaining about your temporary lack of awesomeness will not help you heal quicker; it will however drive friends and family away. Then, one day when you’re stuck on the couch no one will be nearby to grab a snack from the kitchen for you.

2. Don’t push it

Some days suck, some suck more.  Hooray for brokenness, right?  But since you’ve accepted the fact that your body is not performing at its peak you won’t freak out when the simplest act seems insurmountable. And you wouldn’t dream of pushing past your injury-imposed boundaries, like fighting to complete a scheduled long-run despite radiating pain that began at half mile. Save it for another day.  Your attempt to ‘soldier on’ will not impress your significant other who probably already told you not to leave the house; it will not make you feel bad-ass on a bad day.   It will, however, add more time to your recovery and likely require an additional doctor’s appointment.

3. Smile, damn it

Whomever first said that laughter is the best medicine was pretty smart because research has shown that it does release physical tension, decrease stress hormones, and release endorphins.  And smiling is fun; it’s impossible to be angry or frustrated when you’re smiling.  Go ahead, try.  Laughing won’t miraculously cure what ails you, however it will help you survive those few moments you thought were hopeless. Find anything to make you smile. Really, anything.

4. Don’t fester

You’re not obligated to keep your discontent and pain bottled inside. Close friends and family understand that you’re miserable. After all, life kind of dealt you a nasty blow. Their sympathetic ear can lessen the magnitude of The Suck; and, voicing your fears, depression and pain helps others be of better assistance.  Sharing these emotions isn’t a sign of weakness, and chances are pretty good that you aren’t the burden you feel like you are becoming.  Releasing your emotions keeps you from snapping at people for no reason or exploding; on the other hand pent up emotions breed depression and often manifest themselves physically.

5. Use food for sustenance, not coping

All this free time is likely to leave you feeling bored, agitated, and plain ol’ stressed-out. Researchers have several theories about why, but suffice to say that it’s common to crave junk foods when you’re feeling stressed.  These comfort foods tend to be high in calories, something you definitely don’t need an abundance of during your (temporary) less active lifestyle.  Indulging in lots of pie may pass the time and bring you bliss, however, its sugar-high will be short-lived and you’ll eventually start tacking on a few extra pounds.


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Guest Post: Memoirs of the Hapless Injured Girl

As runners we tend to cherish and memorialize milestones – pictures of our first race, the mantle especially built for our age-group awards, blogging about our first trail poop.  Zazzle and CafePress offer an assortment of tshirts, mousepads, mugs, and stickers to help us commemorate nearly any achievement, and if we’re lucky we can find one plaque that celebrates several categories.  Recently though I hit a milestone for which I found no sticker – “Congratulations!  Your Injury Just Halted Everyday Life.”  I’ve made a lot of adjustments since hurting myself but remained fairly self-sufficient, until last week.

And the answer to your first question is: yes, I did look for a greeting card.

This may not sound like a big deal but think about it:  Most distance runners train alone. We are responsible for logging our own mileage and make a point to run our own races.  We are used to, and generally pride ourselves upon, being self-sufficient.  My husband calls it being stubborn, but I digress.  Requiring assistance to complete normally easy tasks can be a big deal for someone used to doing things (like running 18 miles) by themselves, or who hasn’t quite come to terms with just another injury that has become a long-term injury.  Realizing I had reached that point was a big deal for me.

 I dreaded the idea of giving in to this reality because that would signal that I was definitively very broken.  Utter brokenness would mean The Husband dedicating time and energy to my care; I didn’t want to become a pain in the ass.  Difficulty completing just everyday tasks meant that the road to running recovery would be very, very long. See? I even made a graph to illustrate my point:

You see, I’m used to my body readily and easily completing whatever task I ask of it.  I lift heavy weights.   I contort into the most awkward positions when doing yoga or helping The Husband repair something in my little Saturn SC-1 coupe.  I pick up socks with my toes and on occasion extend my leg in front of me to open a door. I lay on the bare terrazo floor just because my dog likes me to.  Nothing has ever seemed impossible until now; except maybe flying (but only because I don’t have feathers). But anything else was certainly within reach.

You’re probably wondering during what monumental task did “fuck dude, I really can’t do this” occur to me.  Well, I was buying dog food.  My gym buddy could legitimately argue that my self-sufficiency was foresaken the first time he had to bring me weights for dumb-bell press…but according to me, it was the dog food.

 I live with about 260 pounds of cuddly canines that consume massive quantities of food.  Tractor Supply has very large bags of food for a good price but I wasn’t sure someone would be available or willing to help me put it in the cart and take it out to my car.  But my local grocer, Publix, has a reputation for outstanding customer service.  The sole factor determining my purchase –  which store would definitely offer assistance.  There’s something depressing and humbling about requiring assistance rather than voluntarily asking for it; I don’t recall ever having to have help.

I was embarrassed. I don’t look broken, would they believe me or think I am just being lazy?

I was cranky. Some underpaid brat kid who doesn’t even want to be there is going to be forced to serve me.

I was sad. Man, I can’t even carry my own freaking dog food.

But to my surprise, the experience was actually pretty good. So good, in fact, that I wrote to the Store Manager:

I wanted to take the time to inform you of the awesomeness of your customer service, specifically that of Dominic.  Last week I begrudgingly asked for assistance with obtaining large bags of dog food.  My movement is very restricted due to a recent injury and I haven’t quite come to terms with its limitations.

He was like a helpful shadow, never once leaving my side.  Not once did I get the feeling from him or any other employee that I was taking up time or that he should be elsewhere in the store.  Dominic didn’t rush my transaction and even pointed out sale items.  Not only did he procure my items, he also commandeered the cart and offered to visit other parts of the store if I needed.  He took my items through checkout and waited afterward to take them to my car when he could have just as easily pawned me off to whomever normally worked that line.  Additionally, he placed the large bags in the trunk in such a way that they would be fairly easy to remove.

Dominic’s is the first outside assistance I have sought.  Because of his service I’ll be less embarrassed about asking store personnel for help; for someone like me, who isn’t used to requiring assistance, that’s important.

 I’ve asked for assistance one more time since then, and it was equally pleasant.  I mention it because the person who helped me was cross-country runner who jokingly reprimanded her coworker for allowing me to pick up a 12 pack of beer soda.  She threatened to ride home with me to make sure I didn’t pull that stunt again.  Thinking about it makes me laugh now.

It’s been hard to come to grips with my limitations;  I mean, I pretty much went from being able to do anything to virtually nothing in a matter of a few weeks.  Finding the couch more comfortable than the memory foam bed isn’t so frustrating, and I don’t get angry that it’s painful to bend over the sink to brush my teeth.  I pretend my back support is a sexy corset.  Okay not really, nonetheless I rock that damned back support.  Baby steps right?

This whole getting injured thing sucks.  Not being able to easily complete daily tasks sucks even more.


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Guest Post: DNS Should Stand for Did-Not-Sulk

This week is bittersweet for me as a runner; Trisha is gearing up for her first ultra at the same time I am coming to terms with my own first ultra, the Ironhorse 50 Miler in Florahome, Florida, being logged as a DNS (did not start). Since my injury occurred about 9 weeks ago, I’ve sort of wondered how I would react when The Day arrived.  Would I feel disappointed because I had not attained a goal I had set for myself? Sad, simply because I won’t be at the starting line? Or angry because of…well, everything?

But in all reality, if I had to give a simple answer to the question “how are you handling not even starting your first ultra?’ it would be “Eh, whatever.  Pass the wine.”

That’s not to say that I’m not a bit bummed about not waking up in the pre-dawn hours to trek 50 miles through the backwoods of an obscure part of Florida enjoying blisters, baseball-sized rocks, more blisters, and probably lots of Ben-Gay.  I remember from last year that the Race Directors also supply things like cookies, soup, bonfires, and beer.

I was looking forward to my husband’s antics, too. He’d devised all sorts of creative ways to keep me motivated, like equipping his Jeep with speakers to sound like an approaching ice-cream truck. I couldn’t wait to be crewed, maybe even paced, by my smiley-awesome-triathlete-gym buddy Holly; she was itching to see if she could remain perky throughout any middle of the night crankiness.  I wanted to run the last few miles singing Pocket Full of Sunshine with Tom, my friend who possesses bomb-ass ultra skills, because the idea seemed funny during the late stages of his ultra. I wanted to run through the woods for my long-time friend Kelly who simply can’t run because of a non-running-related accident.

But all those things that I was looking forward to aren’t exclusive to this race, the race itself doesn’t actually mean anything to me.  The idea of me completing a 50 miler was hatched sometime mid-2011 and based on my achievements at the time; if my rate of progression continued as it was then I would be prepared to run an ultra in February 2012.  Running an ultra was a simple equation:  Lynsey likes to run + Lynsey runs often + Lynsey is slow x Lynsey is slightly off her rocker = Lynsey does an ultra.  Any race that was mainly off-road, flat, and shady would suffice because the race itself is just a picture of my journey, and the journey is the accomplishment.

Funny thing happened about 12 weeks prior to The Day: I got nervous.  I started over-thinking my progress; have I completed enough really long runs, is my weekly mileage high enough, when should I peak? I consulted way too many training plans created by people whom I’ve never met and began tweaking my routine. Changing the routine that had allowed me to run 20 miles just whenever I felt like it, the routine I had become comfortable with over the past few years.  My husband recently noted “You are not the least bit normal – when was the last time you accomplished anything by following someone else’s rhythm? I don’t know why you thought you had to this time.”  I’d like to take this time to thank The Husband for refraining from doing his I-Told-You-So dance once my running world collapsed around me.

I don’t know specifically about what I was nervous except that, like this dude Rich Davis once said, “Long distance running is 90% mental and the other half is physical.” I think I allowed my general competitive, compulsive psyche to infiltrate my running, the one activity that helps relax those very characteristics.  Metaphorically it changed my very reason for running; the mental clarity and freedom I normally glean from repeatedly placing one foot in front of the other took a backseat to those arbitrary deadlines and benchmarks.  I got so caught up in The Race that I forgot about The Run.

Yesterday I donned a race t-shirt I had recently found amongst all my crap, not realizing it was last year’s shirt from the race I planned to do this year (I have last year’s shirt because I paced a friend through the last stretch).  When I finally realized which shirt I was wearing, my world didn’t implode. The letters “D-N-S” did not suddenly emboss themselves across my chest; neither did the words “slacker” or “poser.”  Incidentally, I did find the word “weirdo” written in a ring around my belly button but that might just have been dirt.  Regardless, my first DNS has not been as life-altering as I’d once thought.


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No, I will Not Go Postal (Guest Post by Lynsey)

Hello, readers. It’s been nine weeks now, and I’m still sidelined from running due to some nasty upper leg tendonitis. I will say I’m now really starting to understand Trisha’s frustration from her summer-long “haitus.” But although you wouldn’t know it if you read my Facebook statuses as of late, I actually don’t like to complain or whine. My general attitude toward life’s obstacles has always been “How can I get around this?” rather than “Why can’t I get around this?” I’m not a Suzy Sunshine or anything, it’s just that concentrating on the suckiness of a situation doesn’t really result in any sort of positive outcome.

I think I’m more like Suzy Sunshine’s drill sergeant; actually, my disposition is probably best summarized as a picture (see left).  It’s the design on a t-shirt from Threadless Tees, called “the Curse of the Care Were.”

Shortly after posting the following status update, I realized that maybe I was starting to forget my Suzy Sunshine Drill Sargeant Suck-it-up-itive-ness:

“Today is a bitch, whine, moan, and complain kind of day. I’m not feeling a whole hell of a lot of pain but my lack of physical activity is causing me to go crazy(ier).”

I guess I’m just antsy and generally frustrated because I can’t function at the level I’m used to, which is an average of 30 miles per week. I run because my brain doesn’t stop, ever (even at night with the help of alcohol). With that said, I managed a whoping 30 minutes on the elliptical last night after going through my range of motion exercises and massage stuff, and it did help. Also what helps is the mantra that my spinning mind recently adopted:

No, it’s not getting worse.
Yes, it is getting better.
I know these things can take forever to heal.
And no, I will not go postal.

But still, where’s the positivity in that?  Where’s my action plan to get myself out of Suckville?  And, where is my normal sarcastic humor that at least adds a bit of comic relief to my life? Just “not going postal” is not enough. I need to do something about this.

So without further ado, with you guys as my witnesses, here is my List of Ways that Being Injured Has Not Sucked.

  1. My car reeks less of “eau de sweaty runner.” No further explanation needed? No, I didn’t think so.
  2. I discovered that people generally like my FuzzyFeet.  That’s not just a lame attempt at self-promotion; I’ve actually found that not running has given me more time to do things like work on a website, update Facebook, and contact Race Directors. Some of them even said they were really cool!
  3. My life expectancy has increased due to less contact with distracted drivers as I attempt to cross the street. I’m positive that all my close-encounters have taken years off my life. I was once tagged by a car while walking through a crosswalk at a local mall. I was wearing a bright yellow tech shirt on a bright sunny day.
  4. I’ve developed a small bit of sympathy for some of the drivers who look completely astonished that they nearly obtained a runner atop their vehicle’s hood. There are some massive blind-spots at these intersections, like this giant shrubbery that the city recently put in. I mean, I’m all for beautification of my city, but it would be nice to able to clearly see a runner waiting at the corner.
  5. My grocery bill has decreased.  It’s taken The Husband a good month to really understand the food-economics associated with my running habit; hell, it took me two weeks to get used to it. Hubby will say things like: “Sweetheart, how come you didn’t eat your sweet potatoes this week?” and “Come on, I’ve seen you put down way more food than that in one sitting.”  I think I’ll remind him of the lowered bill once I’m back in full swing.
  6. Wine. Hydrating is a bit less pertinent right now so I’ve had the time to sample a plethora of delicious grape tonics. I happen to like sweet dessert wines, in case anyone wants to donate to an injured runner’s cause.

I guess it wasn’t too hard to think of those positive things. I suppose I’ll have to come back and read this next time I’m having a bad day.