January 12, 2015

How Running Healed My Arm

When I last signed off the blog, it was Friday night, I was on my way home from Dallas, and I was really sad. I had only been in Dallas for about 24 hours, which wasn’t nearly enough time to get to see all my friends or do everything I wanted to. But it was enough time to make me really miss being there, and as much as I know Colorado is the right place for me, it made me sad to come home.

I had planned to do my long run on Saturday, but ended up lazing around most of the day watching How I Met Your Mother instead. (I am only six episodes from finishing the series and I can’t believe how good it still is… why did it go off the air?!) Unfortunately, it was really not good that I didn’t stick with my original plan, because yesterday was a 55 degree, sunny, blue skies kind of day that would have been amazing for a long run. Plus, today would have been perfect for a ski trip if I hadn’t needed to run. Today, unfortunately, wasn’t a great day for running.

I slept super late (10am – have done that two weekends in a row now!) after going to Geeks Who drink trivia last night with a group of my girlfriends and not getting to bed until 1:30am. On the bright side, our team came in second place and won a $30 gift card to the Belgian beer bar that hosted! Sometimes it’s worth it to sleep so late if it means you had a fantastic time the night before 🙂

When I woke up, I put my running clothes on right away… but then procrastinated on the computer for a really long time. It ended up taking me until 12:40pm to get out the door, which wasn’t exactly ideal. I headed out not really too enthused about the run, but feeling like it was something I had to do.

I’m not going to lie – the run itself wasn’t anything extraordinary. It wasn’t cold (though definitely chillier than yesterday), but it wasn’t the kind of sunny, blue sky day that Denver is known for (and on which I usually do my long runs). In fact, I came very close to calling it quits after about 3 miles, since I did a loop right around my apartment area to tack on some extra miles before heading out for the out-and-back part of my run.

Dillon Road Long Run
The point of no return: I’ve now left my immediate neighborhood and am heading for some loops around Harper Lake. This was also probably the prettiest part of my run, before the clouds sank lower and the afternoon became gray and dull and the Broncos lost the playoffs 🙁

But, to my credit, I kept going – and even though I was back at my apartment again after only 18 miles out of my planned 20, I did some more loops around my immediate neighborhood to ensure that I hit the 20 mile goal I had set for the day. Not fast, not great, but… done.

Harper Lake January
Going around Harper Lake was one of my favorite parts of the run, though you can see in this pic just how low the clouds were. Practically covering up the mountains in the distance!

All this is to say that the run itself wasn’t perfect and it wasn’t magical. BUT. When I got home and got in the shower, I discovered that it had been more magical than I thought. I’ve been struggling with my left arm for the last few weeks since surgery. I started PT last week, but it seemed like I was going backwards with my progress instead of forward – my first session left me basically completely unable to use my arm and in a ton of pain. Overall, what’s most noticeable is that I can’t fully straighten my arm, I can’t lift anything heavier than about five pounds or so, and I can’t bend my arm enough to reach my shoulders/face/head.

Well, today after my 20 mile long run, I was taking a ridiculously long shower when I realized… I was using my left hand to wash my hair. And wash my face. And when I experimentally tried to touch my left hand to my shoulder… I could do it with no issues whatsoever! This is the most mobility I’ve had since my surgery in mid-December and I can’t believe that the fix came from a long run rather than all the (painful) exercises my physical therapist has been assigning. My body apparently just loves to run!

Plus, while I hadn’t originally wanted to go out for that long run (and wished I could just sit at my computer and catch up on all the emails and articles I’ve gotten behind on)… that afternoon, I felt incredible and accomplished. Instead of lamenting that my long run took up nearly four hours of my day and left me unable to get other stuff done, I’m really proud of myself for spending that time prepping for my marathon at the end of the month – which is honestly more of an urgent priority than some grocery shopping that I can do tonight.

I know I’ve written about the transformative power of running on my blog many times before, but I am continually amazed. Hooray for long runs!


12 thoughts on “How Running Healed My Arm”

  1. Woah, awesome Laura! I agree, running has “magical” powers. I’m so glad it loosened up your arm for you even if it was only for that evening (maybe it is still easy to use!). What marathon are you running at the end of January? I have probably missed it on your blog but I’m curious where they are located this time of year!

    1. I feel the same way! I hope that by blogging about it, it encodes it in my brain so that I remember for next time… but then that never actually seems to work.

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