Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Risks

I think it's highly possible that this post may become my first rant. I want those of you who comment on my blog to know it is not directed at any of you - it is the result of some conversations I have had recently.

This topic has been rolling around in the back of my mind for the last few days. Partially because of Rob's decision to run CCC100 and my decision to support him, and partially from my own decision to run a marathon.

I'll start with me. I will admit that there is a known risk in training for and running a marathon. I'm ignoring the cardiologist's advice to limit my runs to an hour. I've crept my mileage up to a fairly high weekly level - not quite double my many-year-base of 25 miles per week. I've done it in a relatively short amount of time. I only gave myself 12 weeks to get ready. All of these actions lead to an increased risk of injury. I know that.

On the other hand, I've gotten this far and I'm not injured. I've probably hit my peak for weekly miles for this training plan - from here on out, as my long run increases, my mid-week mileage will decrease, keeping it all even. I've also shortened my run/walk cycle for the long runs. I wear my monitor and watch my heart rate. My latest heart episode was recent enough and hurt enough to make me cautious.

The point is, I'm an adult and I have made a decision. I've looked at the risks, made modifications to accommodate and decided to go forward. So what's the problem? Okay, it's not really a problem, but I've been running into a lot of people lately who feel free to lecture me on my foolishness. Most of them are non-runners, but there are a few runners in the crowd too. I know, or at least assume, that the lectures come from a real worry about my health. I try to be gracious and thank the lecturer for their concern, and to reassure them that I know the risks I'm taking. I guess I'm just wondering what the lecturers are thinking - do they think I just randomly decided to run a marathon, that I'm going flat out with no regard to my health? Do they recognize the training that I am putting into this? It comes down to that same old thing - do I want to be safe and happy, trundling from couch to kitchen and back, or do I want to go out and experience all the things I love to do? And as for the running lecturers, let me just say that there is no one "right" training plan. We all have different strengths and weaknesses, we are at different fitness levels and ages. Just because it worked for you doesn't mean I have to do it that way. (And don't get me wrong, I love to get advice, but let's leave it at advice and not consider it a "have to".)

I live with a well-founded fear that there will come a day where I cannot run at all. The fact is that I have absolutely no control over the health of my aortic valve. The leak can get worse or I could get a virus that could destroy it. It was getting progressivlely worse for a while, but has been stable for the last couple of years. It could eventually require replacement - and I don't know what the running prognosis is after that. Or it could degrade to a point that I have trouble running, but is not bad enough to replace. That is part of what drives me to do all the races and runs I can now - that, and the fact that I love everything about running and the running community.

Anyone who really knows me, knows that I can, and do, over-analyze with the best of them. I've bounced the marathon idea around in my head, I've run it past Eric a zillion and six times, I've tested it out on Sonya and Rob, I've discussed it with Steve and Margaret. I put a lot of thought into this. I totally and completely understand that I am at risk. I find the risk acceptable and I am going to do it.

Now for Rob. The man is a running enthusiast who finds joy in pain and suffering and running a hundred miles. He is also a grown-up. He knows full well what he is getting into. He ran the same 100 mile race last year - he's experienced every inch of it. Rob made a decision to do the race. And he will do it with, or without crew. I decided to support him and crew for him. My decision to crew for him will not determine whether or not he races. I don't see how me crewing is hurting him - in fact, it should be helping him. Shouldn't I trust in Rob's training and self-knowledge? Shouldn't I support my friend, and in fact do it with enthusiasm? I think so. It's actually kind of funny to think that anyone imagines I have enough influence over Rob to keep him from running this race.

Okay, I got that off my chest. Even though some of those lecturers will never read it, I got to say it. And heaven help the next hapless soul who decides to lecture me!

Monday: rest and Pilates
Tuesday: 6.2 miles, 1:15:39, avg hr: 139, high: 157 (and it was a really fun run!)

18 comments:

craig said...

I think Rob has documented by his actions many times that he runs the way his heart tells him to. He's not out there to please anyone or to seek anyone's approval. And I think that's exactly as it should be.

You know your body and it's quirks better than anyone. If you were struggling with the increased mileage that would be one thing. But you've progressed beautifully in recent days. I know you are not taking an opinion poll but I think you can pull it off.

Flo said...

I think some people see you and think you're putting your health at risk by running and that something serious could happen to you. I got news, we could all get hit by a bus tomorrow. You sound like you're handling your training just right cuz it's working for you. You're absolutely right, one size does not fit all and we all have to find what works for us. What works for me probably won't work for you. Just like I couldn't put in 50 miles in a week - hello!!!! Anyway, do take care of yourself but you've done okay this far :)

Nicole said...

For what it is worth I admire you. We should all live our lives to the fullest no matter what. Just be safe and I'm sure you will have any cheerleaders including me - just be safe, okay?

robtherunner said...

Michelle,

Wonderful post/rant! I think that you have proceeded with caution and I am always at ease with what you do because I know how much you constantly analyze your running and health. Don't listen to the naysayers. Secretly you inspire them all though they may be too full of pride to admit it.

I would run CCC without any support, but I am happy that I do not have to. You have led the charge and I appreciate the sacrifices you are making to help me out even while you are going after your own goals. My confidence is growing stronger day by day.

angie's pink fuzzy said...

Go Michelle! Stay true and confident to yourself and what feels right for you. Integrity is knowing why you made the choice, and gives you the confidence to stand behind your decision(s).

Donald said...

Don't take running advice from non-runners. Period.

Did someone suggest you should talk Rob out of the race? I only know him on-line, and even I know that wouldn't work. Good for you to be there for him.

TryAthlete said...

At the end of the day you know yourself best. (Although it is frustrating to listen to others who feel otherwise.)

Thomas said...

Well, I haven't got a heart problem, and I still get tons of advice from non-runners, who think I'm doing myself harm. I don't know the deatiles of your condition, but myh sense tells mne that running should strengthen your cardiac system, which should be helpful rather than dangerous - not that I am in any position to give medical advice, of course.

Rob, on the other hand, is a maniac.

And since you asked, a bank holiday is what we call a public holiday here. Why it's called that I don't know, though it's true that all the banks are closed - just like most of the country.

Wes said...

For me, it is a decision about finding that happy medium, where you are happy with your non-running life and happy with your running life. The key word being happy, and your health is so important. However, as you said, if you want to run your heart out until your aortic valve wacks you upside the head with a 2x4, then by all means, knock yourself out. It's your decision, and nobody else really has anything to say about. I luv your new pic, and I can see that smile when you are running....

JustRun said...

What it comes down to (in both situations) is that you're doing what's right for you. You're not making rash decisions or ignoring any "signs." The naysayers will always find something, might as well be this. Have fun, take care of yourself and enjoy. There's yet to be a reason not to. :)

olga said...

I live with a well-founded fear that there will come a day where I cannot run at all.
I am experiencing it right now. And feel blessed for a few years I could. And positive I will. Take it all in. Push an envelope. I know if you need to, you will stop. Untill then - nobody is up for a lecture. Yet you will be the only one accountable.
As for our Maniac Rob - can't wait to see you again and crack a wip on him together:) We'll have tons of fun.

Sarah said...

Life itself is a risk. I admire your spirit and enthusiasm for not letting any added risks you may have stop you.

I'm sure your lecturers feel like they have your best interest in mind. But I certainly believe that you know what is best for you!

Good luck with the rest of your training and maybe we'll be able to connect sometime during the marathon.

E-Speed said...

Girl if you are like most runners you know your body better than anyone and you know your limits and those boundaries you can push. If you have the support of your husband and family I say do what you want!!! Nobody can stop you if you put your mind to it.

There will always be worriers, just trust that they worry out of love, and gently blow them off when they express their worries!

Rose said...

Ah yes, the sidewalk doctors and psychologists who know so much more than you know. They eat trans fats, drive like maniacs, work too much, live too little and have phd's in telling other people how they should live their lives. You and Rob each have a handle on your own lives and anyone who hasn't been asked should just butt out.

Jack said...

I think you are a cautious runner and know what you're getting into. Most good things in life have a risk tag attached - it is a decision that you have to make. As far as Rob, he also know's what he is getting into and I know he has the fortitude to finish. A lot of people ask me why I race so often, which is usually followed by a comment about that being too often, and that sooner or later I'm going to crash and burn. Who knows, maybe they are right, but it's my decision. I'm not getting any younger and I know someday I won't be able to keep going like I am. But if the day comes where I can only hobble around because I over did it along the way, then at least I'll be able to say I had one hell of a journey to get there!

Robb said...

There will always be risks and critics…and never guarantees. I think you have been wise with your training and you understand your body and its limitations. You do what you like! You’re ready!

matt said...

very well said, michelle...i take the same approach to receiving advice...consider it, but trust yourself and your instincts. i think that everything you are doing with your training and your support for rob is so well-founded. when i think about you, i think of someone who uses sound judgment in her decision-making process. you do an excellent job of explaining your thoughts here.

D said...

Nice rant Michelle. Sometimes it helps to just get it out and then move on. I'm probably repeating what everyone else has said, but here goes: You know your body, you know your limitations, you know when it is time to stop. Most doctors don't even understand running so why do non-runners seem to think they can dish out advice. I wonder what people are thinking most of the time - much like the know-it-alls that don't really know it all but think they do. You are strong and are admired by many including me.