How did it feel, mentally and physically, when you started running again?
Running keeps me sane and balanced, so on days when I don’t feel like running, I remind myself that running is what puts distance between me and that black hole of depression. As for my body, though my pain has decreased, I still have some. It’s not enough to warrant meds, instead I try to find ways to reduce it, which includes propping my legs up whenever I’m sitting. And over the past four years since I started running, my overall pain has decreased.
I want to run now and long into the future, so I experimented with various running methods to find one that works best for my beat-up body. I’ve found Jeff Galloway’s run/walk/run method to work well both during training and races. I alternate running 3 minutes with walking 1 minute, because the walking gives my body a break from the impact and allows me to run without injuring myself.
I love the title of your book “Because I can.” What do you mean by that?
It’s a two-fold answer. First: After returning to running, people (mostly non-runners) would ask me why I’m running again and my answer often was because I can! It’s a gift to be able to run, not everyone can, so doing what I can is an outward manifestation of my gratitude for how well I’ve recovered.
Second: My younger sister Rosene was born with Cerebral Palsy, which affected every muscle in her body forcing her to spend at least half of her adult life in a wheelchair. Despite her limitations, she always tried to do the best she could in everything. She passed away in late 2008 and at that time, I decided she always did what she could with what she had, why should I do anything less? So I do what I can, not out of guilt, but because I can!
What did this accident teach you about your body and your health?
We have more control over our health then we realize. Yes, genetics, disease and injuries play a part, but what we do and what we eat plays a lot bigger part than we like to admit. I’ve found a whole foods plant-based diet makes me feel the best and research says it’s the best for me long-term.
Also, though our bodies are stronger than we give them credit for, we have to listen to and respect them. I don’t believe in the old-school mentality of no pain, no gain. Pain is our body’s way of talking to us, so we have to be wise and evaluate where and why we have pain and then make a wise decision on whether the pain needs rest, stretching, gentle running, a different exercise, etc. The only pain I think we should ignore are the pathetic excuses coming from our minds about why we can’t exercise.
What’s the biggest life lesson you’ve learned through all of this?
We are complex and interconnected, so overcoming obstacles and/or going through any major life change requires a renewal of body, mind and soul. When I struggled the most with depression was when I tried to accept my new circumstances with the mindsets from my past. I finally began crawling out of that dark hole when I allowed myself to go through an overall renewal. This renewal and recovery is what my book, Because I Can covers.
How is your running today and what is your next goal?
My running is going well. I was impressed that I wasn’t too sore after the full marathon, but I took it easy for a few weeks to make sure my body recovered well, plus it was nice to have a break from a training schedule.
But I’m back to training now, because I’m doing the New York City Marathon on November 4, 2012! I’m excited to run one of the most famous marathons in the world and I’m equally thrilled that by doing the 26.2 miles, I’ll help others who have obstacles to overcome, because I’m running as a representative for the IM ABLE FOUNDATION.
What would you say to someone who is overcoming a difficulty in their life and doesn’t think they too can run a marathon?
I think the majority people in the world could do a marathon if they train properly. But having said that, each person’s journey is going to look different, so the specifics of what worked for me might not work for someone else. But many of the general things I learned can be applied to various situations in life, overcoming obstacles, going through difficult transitions, training for a marathon and more.
In this instant gratification era, we like to go from point A to point B overnight, but most obstacles take more time to overcome than we like, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t begin tackling them step by step. By doing what you can, with what you have, where you are… you’ll be amazed how far you can go!
Janet Oberholtzer is an author, blogger and motivation speaker. Her memoir, Because I Can: Doing what I can, with what I have, where I am won a publishing contest and was published in September 2011. Janet like good food, red wine and dark chocolate, thankfully she also likes to run. You can connect with Janet at her blog, on Facebook and on Twitter.
Photo: Courtesy of Janet Oberholtzer