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How to be Inspired by Great Running Stories–Part 4

How to be Inspired by Great Running Stories—Part 4

Welcome back to the final installment of the  Inspirational Running series. In this post, I explore the healing power of hitting the pavement from two very different perspectives. In one case a woman tells how running brings back memories of a beloved father.  On the other hand, running becomes a saving grace for a daughter after her mother’s death because that daughter  had an abusive father. These opposite but compelling experiences inspired me to write a short story–with kind permission of a friend who told me about her connection to a beloved father–called “The Girl Who Missed The Rain”.

My Story

I lost my father when I was only thirteen, 45 years ago, but  I still have fond memories of him. I especially feel the connection when I am running. As my feet hit the pavement, I think of sunny butterfly days and dad laughing as he saw mango juice slip through my tiny finger tips as I eagerly devoured the juicy fruit  he had given me. So I can definitely  relate to  the sentiments expressed  in the article, “Running brings back memories of my dad.”—Heather H., St. Petersburg, Florida [1]

Heather’s Story

Heather’s father passed away in 2014 from cancer. In describing how running helped her deal with her father’s loss, Heather states:

“ The running then turned from helping me cope with his illness to helping me mourn his death. I don’t run as much as I’d like to anymore, but to this day running still brings back fond memories of my dad and that time I had with him.” [2]

If you have kept up with my posts, you’ll also recall that I  wrote a post about  war tech now repurposed to find fluid in lungs. I dedicated the post to my friend, Lucy, a fellow runner  who lost her father  to heart failure. Though she likes running in the sun, Lucy  is a woman who often says she misses the rain because it reminds her of her father. Sometimes just for the hell of it she’ll run in the rain when she has the urge to feel close  to her father.

I was moved by the poetry and beauty in which Lucy described her experiences with her father. She said:

“When I was a child, I walked in the forest with my dad. Oh mom would get so mad, thinking the whole thing was foolish. But it wasn’t. It was beautiful. The rain washed the dull grass shiny green and the brilliance of the green grass seemed to make the forest, well, a sort of heaven of  flowers. Life was perfect and I looked at the sky and thanked it for the rain. Rain that danced for the soil.”

The Dark Side of Fatherhood

Just as a father’s love can provide  fond memories, a father’s abuse can have devastating consequences that reverberates  years after the abuse has happened. This is the subject of “Running was my saving grace after my mother’s death.”—Amy De Seyn, 29, Denver, Colorado [3]

Amy’s Story

In speaking about her mother’s death—someone she was close to—Amy states:

“Her death brought up a lot of difficult and painful feelings for me and I wasn’t sure how to handle them at first. But then I remembered how I used to use running as a way to escape my abusive father. I knew running could save me again. I laced up my shoes and hit the pavement.”[4]

After reading the stories of these two amazing women, I gave Lucy a call and told her that I was inspired to put these experiences in a short story. She was all for it.  So, here it is. I hope you enjoy it.

The Girl Who Missed The Rain

Old Fear

As Joe Lance got out of this jeep and stepped onto the parking lot, he could smell the dripping asphalt scorched by the sun. Behind the parking lot, the trees ravaged by the heat looked to Joe like tall ugly skeletons. “Where’s the damn rain?” he asked out loud. He was tall, well built with an oval face. His thick, black, almost straight hair and brown skin hinted at his mixed extraction. He wore short-sleeve tan summer shirt and matching pants, and looked in his early twenties.

Suddenly a well-groomed dog sprang in front of him, and for what seemed an eternity, Joe could not move. The owner, a neatly dressed middle-aged black man, quickly called the dog.

“I’m sorry about that, but you were never in danger.  He’s a little bit rambunctious but he doesn’t bite.”

“When I was a child a large dog attacked me. It knocked me off my bike and really went at me. Just brought back old fear I guess,” said Joe.

“I understand, and once again you have my apology.” The owner held the dog close to him and away from Joe.

“Don’t worry about it. No harm done,” Joe said  and walked away from the stranger. Lucky I didn’t piss in my pants, Joe cursed himself.

The Sad Girl

Tips on overcoming Sadness
Sad Girl

He walked through a gap between the trees and reached a pebble path that led to the library. Ten  minutes after he got in the library, Joe noticed a girl sitting across the table. She looked 19 and  Middle Eastern, with long ebony hair and a perfectly proportioned face. She wore blue jeans with a dark long-sleeve shirt which she kept buttoned. He smiled.  She was the same girl he had seen taking laps around the track field a couple of weeks ago. She was fast, and he was sure she could beat anyone on the track team including the guys. Yet she was a loner and never participated in team competition. A lot of townies just thought she was some hot chick who was full of herself. Joe, however, thought they had pegged her wrong. He sensed, maybe because of his own recognizable fear, that  some deep hurt was going on with this beautiful runner. He was so deep in his thoughts that he had lost track of how long he had been looking at her.

“I don’t appreciate you looking at me like I’m a taxi ready to give you a ride,” she said.

“Didn’t mean to offend you.”

Great going, Joe. Now she thinks I’m just another jerk trying to get into her pants.

“You did.”

The girl picked up her pocketbook and walked away when Joe reached for her.

“What’s your problem?” she asked.

“Just want a chance to clear up the misunderstanding ,” Joe said.

Hey, you are the same guy I saw help that old man with a limp tie his shoes at the store not so long ago. Okay, maybe I wan’t kick you in the balls.

“What’s your name?” she asked.

“Joe Lance. Yours?”

“Kate Anderson.”

“Let me buy you lunch at the diner.”

Shit, I hope that  didn’t come across as creepy.

You don’t have to.”

“ I want to. Actually, You would be doing me a favor. You would be stopping me from using my money on beer. Last thing I need to have is a beer belly at my age,” said Joe.

Kate said nothing and didn’t even smile when she and Joe left the library.

Daughter of A sculptor

He watched  her walk towards a giant wooden sculpture and just stand there. “What’s wrong, Kate?” he asked her.

My father was a sculptor.”

“Was?”

“He’s dead about three years now.” She lit a cigarette, and took a couple of puffs, said nothing and took more puffs, than turned to lance and dropped the cigarette on the ground. He put the cigarette out.

“A real southern gentleman, aren’t you?”

“My accent that obvious?” he asked.

“Just a bit.”

“Where are you from?” she asked.

“Louisiana.”

“Are you Cajun?”

“A bit.” He smiled. “I have seen you run at the track, and you have excellent form. You’re a natural.”

“ I sense a but coming up, “ she said.

“ I was just thinking that you might be a lot faster, maybe even good enough to run one of those marathons  if you gave up smoking.”

“Me, run a marathon ?”

“Well, it wouldn’t have to be a full marathon. It could be one of those quarter marathon. You can do it.”

She shook her head. “You’re sweet. Crazy, but sweet.”

Memories and Rain

tips on seeing beauty of nature
rain drops on leaves

Joe sat on the ground. He reached for Kate’s hand and coaxed her down, and they faced each other. “What was your father like?” he asked Kate.

“My father  was good, like the rain.”

Enjoying the peace of nature
Rain drops on grass

“What do you mean?”

“When I was a child, I walked in the forest with my father. The rain washed the dull grass shiny green and the brilliance of the green grass seemed to make the forest a heaven of flowers. life was perfect and I looked at the sky and thanked it for the rain. The rain that danced for the soil. And three months after my father  died, my mother  married. She might as well have danced on his grave—she and the bastard.”

“Your stepfather?”

“Don’t ever use the word father  when referring to him,” she said with such force that he could feel a trace of spit on his face. he wiped the spit and got up. She straightened herself up and never said she was sorry.

“No big deal. let’s have lunch.” Joe chose to take her silence for an apology. They drove to the diner.

Unseen Monster

The jeep came to a halt in front of the diner. At the nearby bus stop, a bus going to the Village of Cooperville pulled over. Joe and Kate entered the diner and headed to the corner table, from where he observed the driver pouring coolant into the radiator. He noticed that Kate was also looking at the bus, but it wasn’t long before lunch came. It began with a pitcher of ice cold lemonade, followed by steak and fries  with a side order of fruit salad. Joe enjoyed the passion with which Kate ate. She didn’t take delicate bites the way lots of girls he knew did. She took good chunks in her mouth and savored every bite.

“ It’s been a long time since I had a sit-down meal,” Kate said. “My mother is a sales representative for a pharmaceutical company. She’s not around much so most of the time I just pick something up. I definitely  won’t cook for that vermin.”

Joe reached for Kate’s hand to comfort her, and the sleeves of her shirt moved, exposing two vertical scars. She ran out of the diner and, before he could stop her, got on the bus which quickly took off. Joe ran to his jeep and followed.

Facing Monsters

Tips on facing our fears
A German Shepard bares its teeth.

A few miles down the highway, Joe caught up with the bus. It had broken down and steam was coming from it. “Listen mister, you gotta drive to Cooperville and get help. It’s only a mile away, “ said the driver.

“No problem. Where’s the girl who boarded at the diner?”

“That one ain’t right in the head. She went running into the forest,” the driver said, and pointed Joe to the woods across the highway. At that moment, a wild dog came out of the same woods. In its mouth was a bird torn to shreds and blood still dripping down its jaws. The dog ran back into the woods.

Joe felt the sweat run down his face and before long his shirt was sticking to his body from the dampness. He felt a burning sensation down his throat and realized he had vomited and some of it had back up his mouth. He spat everything out. His heart was beating fast, and his chest ached. He wanted to flee, but instead grabbed a tire jack and headed to the woods.

When he got deep into the forest, Joe finally saw Kate. She was on her knees and crying. She turned when she saw Joe.

“The sun burned everything. The flowers are dead. I miss the rain.”

“Gotta go , Kate. Crazy dog on the loose.”

“He raped me, that snake.”

Joe put down the jack and embraced Kate. At that moment he could feel teeth biting into his leg. The dog dragged him like he was a doll. Kate screamed, but was too scared to help him. The pain was intense, as the dog tried to bite straight through the bone. With all his might Joe threw  himself near the jack and brought it crashing into the dog’s skull, killing it instantly.

Kate rushed to Joe and helped him up.

“I’m sorry, Joe. It’s my fault.”

“No Kate. You didn’t do anything wrong. It’s over. All of it. You have to go to the police.

“Will you go with me?” she asked.

“Yes, I will. You can trust me, Kate.”

“I Know. I truly do.”

For the first  time Joe saw Kate Smile and they both knew that soon it would rain again.

After The Rain

Joe kept his promise and accompanied Kate to the police station  few days after the event in the woods. It also turned  out that Kate’s mother  had no idea of the monstrous nature of the man she had left her daughter  with. She begged Kate for forgiveness, and Kate found it in her heart to forgive her mother. With Joe’s help, Kate quit smoking and trained to run in her first quarter  marathon. Joe loved to watch  her run. She had perfect form, and this time he knew she wasn’t running away from something  bad. She was running to the day when everything would still be great long after the rain was gone.

As for Joe, his fear was gone. He had confronted it in the woods and had triumphed. All he wanted to do now was to be with Kate. She was going to be hard to keep up with. I guess I better tie up my laces and hit the pavement, he thought  as he saw her  run around  the track. I like to hear from the readers so please leave me a comment below to let me know if this post helped you or if you have any questions.

Tips on running with a friend
Running with a friend

I hope you enjoyed the series. For those who want to read the series from the beginning here are the links: 

https://healthybacksupport.com/how-to-be-inspir…g-stories-part-1

https://healthybacksupport.com/how-to-be-inspir…g-stories-part-2

https://healthybacksupport.com/how-to-be-inspir…g-stories-part-3

I like to hear from the readers so please leave me a comment below to let me know if this post helped you or if you have any questions.

Reference

1. https://www.shape.com/fitness/cardio/these-women-prove-running-can-help-you-get-through-tough-times

2. Ibid

3Ibid

4Ibid

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How to be Inspired by Great Running Stories–Part 3

How to be Inspired by Great Running Stories—Part 3

Welcome back to the Inspirational Running series. Last time we left our story in Croatia. A  former drug addict,from Croatia, Tadija Opacak, who had suffered from cerebral palsy from early childhood becomes a super marathon runner. As you recall, Tadija faced a major challenge  in just moving his body. In telling his story, he states:

“I learnt to walk without assistance at the age of 4 and even then it was with a heavy dragging of the left leg and the left arm was good for nothing,” he grinned. [1]

However, his community provided comfort and help. It embraced his efforts to strengthen his body.  The friends from the community helped him to improve his walking by practicing with him walking up and down the stairs of residential buildings. He persisted  and became stronger.

He Overcame His Circumstance and Became an Elite Athlete

Now I would like to tell you about another story of a man who defied the odds. Don Wright is about to run his 100th marathon with cancer, while on treatment, and he’s 75-years old!

Story 4: My Life Is Worth It. Des Moines & Philadelphia . My LIFE IS WORTH  IT (MLIWI) , a non-profit patient advocacy organization,tells an amazing story. A man is diagnosed with the blood cancer multiple myeloma in 2003 and given less than five years to live. Yet  he defy’s doctor’s expectations and 13 years later, at 75, ran his 99th and 100th marathons. He ran in the Des Moines Marathon on Oct. 16th and celebrated his 100th marathon in the Philadelphia Marathon on November 20th.[2]

Medicine, Grit, and The Right Stuff

It’s no secret  that at times traditional medicine has been close minded and even hostile to alternative treatments when it comes to managing  pain or curing illness.  Some traditional  medicine  practitioners consider therapy strategies  such as meditation, yoga, pet therapy, music therapy, game therapy,  positive thinking, and virtual reality, as nothing more than voodoo  medicine that dangerously  delays the healing process. Predictably, some alternative medicine enthusiasts think their traditional  counter parts have sold their  souls to the devil and are only interested in prolonging your illness so they can make a fast buck.

Thankfully, these extreme views are not shared by  most from the alternative  or traditional medicine camps. More often professionals in the pain management business have come to realize that the cure or alleviation of pain or illness at times needs a multiply  strategy combining traditional  and alternative treatments.

On the other hand, modern medicine has made it possible for people living with cancer to go on with a full life. Such is the case when speaking about the story of Don Wright:

Story of Don Wright
Don Wright Holds His Medal

– 13 Years with Cancer

– 75 Years Old

  • 100th Marathon Since Diagnosis

Powered by medical innovation, Don was able to realize his dream of running a 100th  marathon.

Tips on Running as Healing
Don Wright Running

“… Then, as I run, I imagine that I’m sticking a finger in the cancer’s eye and kicking it down the road.” Don Wright

This is His Amazing Story

In the beginning, as you can understand , Don doubted whether his goal of running 100 marathons was realistic.

“I didn’t think it was going to happen,” says Don. “We started out with one marathon and then another and it turned out to be fun so we kept going. We completed at least one marathon in all 50 states and then set a goal of 100 marathons, and here we are.”[3]

“When I head toward the finish line in Philadelphia, I’ll be thinking of all those cancer patients still in need of more research and newer treatments. Just like running marathons, we can’t hit the wall; we’ve got to keep pushing medicine forward.” Don Wright

New Medicine Offers New Hope

Don credits a pill he took that was so new it was still in a clinical trial when he started taking it. It helped keep his cancer in check while he remained free to race around the US and into Canada.

In a CNN special report, Don States:

“One big reason that I can run with myeloma is a drug called pomalidomide. It’s just a little red pill that I take every night. It doesn’t cure the cancer but has kept it at bay for almost five years, without the severe side effects and clinic visits of regular chemotherapy. It’s a miracle drug for me.”[4]

Later, however, the cancer showed signs of returning.  This  was when  the treatment  was changed to enable the pill to boast Don’s immune system. ”I have been on a new combo treatment regimen for a number of weeks now, adding a new infusion that stimulates the immune system to the pill I’ve been taking all these years, and so far so good.” [5]

Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it“–Plato (427-347 BC)

A life Fulfilled

Don Wright continues to live an active life and inspire those stricken with cancer to carry on and not assume their  life is doomed.    Bob Tufts, fellow myeloma patient, former Major League Baseball pitcher and co-founder of MY LIFE IS WORTH IT, tells it this way:  “Most people cannot run marathons, but Don runs to raise awareness of the medical advances that have changed the lives of patients like himself, to encourage other patients when they hear that frightening diagnosis, and to fight for continuing medical progress for those with cancers that remain more difficult to treat.” [6]

Conclusion

Just imagine this. You start getting back pain, and you go to the doctor. He tells you that you have incurable blood cancer. To say you would be shocked is, I’m sure, an understatement. How would you find the determination to not only go on with you daily life but to also run 100 marathons? I think Don Wright’s achievement is not only a testament  to the innovation of modern medicine but also to a confirmation of what will power can achieve. Yes, indeed, I am inspired by the Don Wright Story, and I hope you are too. Are there people in your life who have inspired you? Tell me about them by leaving a comment. I Let their  story inspire  others.

As for the next post, I explore the healing power of hitting the pavement from two very different perspectives. In one case running becomes a saving grace for a daughter after her mother’s death because that daughter  had an abusive father. On the other hand, another woman tells how running brings back memories of a beloved father. These opposite but compelling experiences inspired me to write a short story–with kind permission of a friend who told me about her connection to a beloved father–called “The Girl Who Missed The Rain”.  I’m sure this is a post you won’t want to miss. So stay tuned and check out the continuing series that answers the question why I run. If you want to read the series from the beginning, here are the links: ‎

https://healthybacksupport.com/how-to-be-inspir…g-stories-part-1

https://healthybacksupport.com/how-to-be-inspir…g-stories-part-2

If You Like This Website Click Here To Create Your Own Website For Free

https://healthybacksupport.com/shop

 

I like to hear from the readers so please leave me a comment below to let me know if this post helped you or if you have any questions.

Reference

1 Prka, Matija. “Defying the odds.” Student BMJ, 2001, P. 156. health

2 www.desmoinesmarathon.com and www.philadelphiamarathon.com

3“My Life Is Worth It Says Cancer Patient don Wright, Powered by Medical Innovation, is poised to Make History Nov 20th in Philadelphia.” Business wire, 14. Nov. 2016

4 http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/25/health/human-factor-don-wright/index.html

5 “My Life Is Worth It Says Cancer Patient don Wright, Powered by Medical Innovation, is poised to Make History Nov 20th in Philadelphia.” Business wire, 14. Nov. 201

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How to be Inspired by Great Running Stories–Part 2

How to be Inspired by Great Running Stories—Part 2

Welcome back to the Inspirational Running series. Last time we started in Wales and  you learned how love and running can not only coexist but also thrive. We talked  about how a man ran the entire Cardiff Half Marathon course hiding a box containing an engagement ring in his hand while his girlfriend ran beside him to. At the end of the race he proposed  to her. Hey, what can I say. I’m a romantic, and the story touched me.

Here is The Happy Couple Again

Tips on Running and Love
Running and Love

You also discovered a surprisingly story about  defying the odds. Croatia. Former drug addict,from Croatia, Tadija Opacak, who had suffered from cerebral palsy from early childhood becomes a super marathon runner. As you recall, in the beginning of the story Tadija’s life was a wreck. He had allowed his frustrations to turn him into a drug addict.

When all was lost, Devine intervention gave Tadija hope. He  had a chance encounter with an Adventist priest who changed Tadija’s life by giving him the support needed to  overcome his addiction.

Tips on overcoming Fear
Hope is Stronger Than Fear
Tips on finding hope within
Finding Hope Within

Though Tadija Was no Longer a Drug Addict, His Body Was Still Broken And Weak From Years of Use

Now this time you’re going to learn how  he strengthened  his body to become the super runner described above. Read on…

Story 3: Defying The Odds. The Community Helps. Imagine this. You have suffered from cerebral palsy, and years of drug abuse have damaged your body to the point that you can barely walk. You would obviously need a lot of help as you attempt to move better and longer.

The Road to Recovery

Tips on believing in your recovery
Believing in Your Recovery

The friends from the community helped Tadija to improve his walking by “practicing  with him walking up and down the stairs of residential buildings. It required a large amount of discipline, much effort and pain, but his walking became better and more stable.” [1]

The Urge to Give Back

Sometimes when I’m in my room, particularly  on a late dark night when all is quiet and there’s just a flicker of light streaming  through my window shades, I’m reminded of my past. I think of all the people I was fortunate  to meet who had a positive  impact on my life. For example, when I first came to America as a kid from South Africa I attended private school where I met a girl, Jackie, who looked like a young version of the American actress Suzanne Pleshette . I knew very little about American culture, and Jackie quickly became my American ambassador . She was patient as I asked questions ranging from American slang to baseball. Now, after  getting my Master’s in Mass Communications, I often coach college students with their writing.

So I instinctively understand How Tadija, reflecting on his life, would want to reach out and give back.  In an interview with Matija Prka for the British Medical Association [BMJ], Tadija tells his story and states:

“My mother died in 1986, and I was asked by the Church to take care of an old lady into whose apartment I soon moved. I also started selling religious books, earning just enough to make ends meet. The old lady died soon after, leaving me the apartment.”[2]

 His Flat Became a Refuge

Just as  his body was healing so too did Tadija begin his journey to emotional healing. Coming from a dark place, he nourished  his brain with positive thoughts and sought a practical  way to help people in desperate situations. As Medical intern Matija Prka tells it, Tadija’s “apartment became a refuge for dozens of young people seeking a way out of drug addiction. Many of them had never felt parental love, some did not even know who their parents were. Tadija accepted them and they, in turn, respected him like a father, knowing that he would do anything for them.” [3]

Running Becomes An answer When Physical Rehabilitation Fails

Imagine this. You are starting to heal from the toll that cerebral  palsy  has taken on your body. You feel strong enough to take long walks, but then you start having circulation problems  due to your past drug addiction. The usual physical rehabilitation  doesn’t help. What would you do? Well, Tadija Opacak  turned to running. In his own words he states:

“I took the advice of a friend, an amateur marathon runner, and decided to start running. I went to the town’s stadium and did my first lap. It wasn’t easy… When I made the first lap around the stadium I cried. I did another one, and another one, and then every morning before work I went running. Each day I did a few more laps.” [4]

Tadija Had Found His Passion in Running

The Reborn Athlete Test His Limits

He ran his first 7 km race in August 1992, and his first Olympic marathon on 2 May 1993, where he came fifth. In the same month he also ran a 61 km long super marathon, coming 58th out of 120 athletes.

“I had no chance against professional track and field athletes,” he smiled, “so I decided to run super marathons as an amateur runner. I dedicated my early races to seriously ill young people: two friends on dialysis who needed kidney transplants and a soldier with shell fragments in his head. We raised enough money, not just me, others helped a lot But it worked.” [5]

The Reborn Athlete Discovers His Mission

I am moved by how Tadija, accepting the embrace  and help of his community, turned his life around to the point where he was transforming his body from that of a hopeless addict to that of a competitive  athlete. I have to also say I think this was the pivotal  point where passion and the need to give back gave focus to Tadija’s mission of helping those who were suffering from serious illness.

The Reborn Athlete Takes On His Toughest Run

The culmination of his humanitarian achievements was the ultra long marathon from Prevlaka to Vukovar. “It took me six months of preparations, but I ran the distance of 913 km, divided into 13 sections, from 4 to 16 May 1997. That was my longest race. I cannot think of any other route in Croatia that could be longer.” [6]

Conclusion

You have just read the story about a man who overcame  cerebral palsy  and drug addiction to became  a successful ultra long runner, embraced and revered by his community. What Tadija Opacak did was a remarkable  example of a man refusing to allow himself to be defeated by his circumstance. He defied  the odds.  Training your body, after weakened from illness, to run a marathon  is an impressive feet. Imagine, however, that you are a 75-year old cancer survivor and you dream of reaching a goal of 100 marathons. This the topic of my next post. I hope you’ll be as inspired as I was. If you want to read the series from the beginning, here is the link:  https://healthybacksupport.com/how-to-be-inspir…g-stories-part-1

If You Like This Website Click Here To Create Your Own Website For Free

https://healthybacksupport.com/shop

 

 

I like to hear from the readers so please leave me a comment below to let me know if this post helped you or if you have any questions.

Reference

1Prka, Matija. “Defying the odds.” Student BMJ, 2001, P. 156. health

2Ibid

3Ibid

4Ibid

5Ibid

6Ibid

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How to be Inspired by Great Running Stories-Part 1

How to be Inspired by Great Running Stories-Part 1

If you’re like a lot of people I talk to, you’re probably always on the lookout for how to be inspired by great running stories. You are looking for good information that can help motivate you to become a better runner or just reinforce the reason why you run.

I’m the same way. In fact, my computer bookmarks are just loaded with interesting sites about stories that not only give unique takes on running but also empowering, sweet,  surprising , and amazing depictions of our humanity.

Some weeks back I was telling someone about my bookmarks, and he said I should share them with other runners. It sounded like a good idea in theory.

However, I have literally dozens of resources bookmarked. And the truth is, not all of them are worth sharing.

So here’s what I did – I just spent the last week pouring through these bookmarks.

I kicked out the irrelevant ones, the ones that didn’t really speak specifically  as to why someone runs. I set aside the ones that illustrated the spirit of running. And when I was all done, I had 6 of my favorite stories that answered the question  why do runners run.  Today I am covering 2 of them.

These are the best, the cream of the crop, so I know you’ll enjoy them too. Read on…

Story 1: Proposal at The finish Line. Wales. What I really like about this story  is that it shows that love and running not only can coexist but also thrive. In short, sharing the love of running with the love of your life can be an inspirational  way to show the world that you are emotionally and physically committed to each other.

Here is the scoop.

A man ran the entire Cardiff Half Marathon course hiding a box containing an engagement ring in his hand while his girlfriend ran beside him.[1]

Tips on Running and Love
Running and Love

Think of the rush, no pun intended. Some people can have an opportunity to pursue a physical feat  like completing a life time goal of finishing a marathon run, but that is rarely combined with  the psychological triumph of sharing in real time that victory with someone you love and desire. You feel your feet pounding the ground, and your heart maybe skips a beat.

You understand that it’s not entirely the running that is making your heart beat faster. It’s her.

And it’s freaking awesome.

Mark Harris kept the engagement so well hidden he was able to shock Sarah Dowson with a proposal as they crossed the finish line. As the story goes, “oblivious to what was about to happen, Sarah then became distracted trying to turn off her running app when she realized Mark was calling her name.” [2]

“He was calling me and I didn’t hear him, then he grabbed me and turned me around. It was a big shock,” she said. [3]

He proposed and of course she said yes, or I wouldn’t be writing about  the happy couple. Sharing the love of running with the love of your life makes this story one of my favorites when it comes to the question: Why I run.

Another Great mention: Track and field marriage proposal. Decathlete proposes to Heptathlete teammate  after finishing a race…with the help of the trainer.

Story 2: Defying The Odds. Croatia. Former drug addict who had suffered from cerebral palsy from early childhood becomes a super marathon runner.[4]

Imagine having a twin brother who grows up normally, but you then suffer from cerebral palsy at age 6. You do what brothers always do, race every where. However, you don’t understand why your legs don’t move with the same ease as your brother. In fact, you wonder why it’s so hard to do all the things you used  to do with your brother—like playing tag or jumping over things.

In time your frustration turns into despair and that leads to drug addiction. How in the hell would you get out of that state of  utter hopelessness —of feeling less? How would you heal and become more than your circumstance—become a super athlete.

This is why I love the story of Tadija Opacak. It answers the question in a very powerful way.

Here is The Gist.

Tadija was born as a healthy twin in 1960 in Derventa, Bosnia and Herzegovina. While his twin brother grew up normally, Tadija became ill with cerebral palsy when he was 6 months old. In an interview with Matija Prka for the British Medical Association [BMJ], Tadija tells his story and states:

“I learned to walk without assistance at the age of 4 and even then it was with a heavy dragging of the left leg and the left arm was good for nothing,” he grinned. There were seven more children in his family and they were poor. In 1962 they moved to Slavonski Brod, hoping for a better life. “I started school and was a pretty good pupil in the first four grades. The problems started when my father went abroad looking for employment.” At that time, many fathers, who were usually the breadwinners in their families, had no other choice but to look for a better paid job in other countries.

“I was more and more aware of my physical handicap, of my family’s poverty…I was unhappy and I withdrew.” [5]

Taking Comfort in Drugs

Tadija’ frustration soon turned to despair and drugs became his refuge. As you can imagine, that only made things worse. He lost his job because of his addiction, dope racketing, and conflicts with the police. He also adds, “My friends avoided and despised me. It hurt, so I tried to quit. I tried many medical programs to get clean but none worked. I couldn’t stay clean.” [6]

A Devine Intervention

An inspiration quote
How we inspire others

An Accidental Encounter With an Adventist Priest Changed Tadija’s Life

“This encounter changed my life,” Tadija said. “Before that, I was completely incapable of establishing any normal social contact. The man showed me a way into a decent life. The members of the Christian community offered me help when I decided to give up drugs. In only three months I gained 20 kg and gave up cigarettes, coffee, and alcohol. The last time that I took dope was on 5 November 1984. I remember the date. Nothing since then. Nothing, not even cigarettes, let alone alcohol or coffee.” Quitting the addiction was his greatest victory. [7]

A quote about how we persevere
A quote about perseverance

Winning the battle over drugs is one thing, but how do you then heal, strengthen your body, and shape it to become a super runner? This is the topic of the next post. I’ll see you then. Meanwhile, leave a comment and I’ll be glad to answer any question you have.

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I like to hear from the readers so please leave me a comment below to let me know if this post helped you or if you have any questions.

 

 

Reference

1

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/local-news/man-ran-cardiff-half-marathon-13710750

2 Ibid

3Ibid

4 Prka, Matija. “Defying the odds.” Student BMJ, 2001, P. 156. health

5Ibid

6Ibid

7Ibid

Posted on

How to Stop Stress Fractures With Good Weight Gain

How to Stop Stress Fractures With Good Weight Gain

How to stop stress fractures with good weight gain is a topic that most people don’t discuss. After all, a lot of people run to lose weight. That said, here is an importune question. Are you a female runner? How many times have you suffered a stress fracture  over the past decade of competitive  running?

Tips on Managing a Stress Fracture
Managing Stress Fracture

It’s pretty frightening to think about, isn’t it? And if you’re like most people, you have no idea about the answer – and you’d rather not know. Because most people don’t want to know the factors that put female runners at an increased risk of developing a stress fracture. It’s not a fun topic to talk about.

However, starting to achieve overall fitness as a runner means facing things we’d rather not face. And that includes how low body mass Index [BMI] can lengthen healing time for athletes suffering  from stress fractures.  It may be painful. It may be difficult. But once you really examine the role of low BMI, you’ll be glad you did. And that’s because you’ll learn how to become a healthier runner and continue on the mission of overall fitness without risking injury.

Let’s have a look at this topic of running while under weight  in more detail, and then you’ll learn how to strengthen  your heart without breaking your bones.

So, without further introduction, let’s review what happens to your body when you run.

Endurance Running  and Repetitive Stress

If you recall my past post about the stress that is imposed  on your body when you run, you will recall that  running  is   sometimes described as a series of crashes.

Tips on how running is like a car crash
Running is like a car crash

What that refers to, as I pointed out, is that when you run your body is under constant pressure. Endurance running places repetitive stress on the lower limbs and lower back.

This is How it Works. This is What We Mean by Crashes

When you are running, your feet strikes the ground. With each foot strike inducing ground reaction forces equivalent to 2–4 times the body weight. [1] This means that if you weigh 100 pounds you are slammed with 200 to 400 pounds of pressure that is like a shock wave to your body.

As one of my readers, and a fellow runner, notes:

“ I will pay for it for days if I put too much strain or pressure on my joints so I definitely  understand it being compared to a crash.”

Let’s now consider what role body mass has on an athlete’s ability to withstand pressure.

Underweight Female Athletes at More Risk of Injuries

Tips on proper underweight and running
Not too thin to run healthy

 

A Woman Wearing tights and Red Sneakers is Running on a Sunny Day
A Woman Running in The Sun

A  new study reported by the Indo Asian News Service (IANS)  found that  female runners who have a body mass index (BMI) of less than 19 “are at a higher risk of developing stress fractures– a tiny crack in a bone caused by repetitive stress or force, often from overuse — than women with a BMI of 19 or higher. “ [2]

 

Lt. Col. Mark Cucuzzella, a professor at West Virginia University School of Medicine, says female runners with low BMIs should be aiming to add fat to their bodies. “In this age group, body fat should be in the range of 20 percent to 22 percent for hormonal health,” he says. “If it’s not there, all the calcium and vitamin D in the world won’t heal a  stress fracture .” [3]

Fat Intake and Injury in Female Runners

We are now ready to fully consider the subject at hand. According to a  report by The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, a lower daily fat intake and lower percentage of total energy from fat is associated with increased injury risk among competitive female runners [4]

Another study found an association between increased levels of cognitive dietary restraint and stress fractures [5].

Finally, there’s  study that  was part of a larger multi-factorial analysis of risk factors for lower extremity injury in female runners [6]. Runners were recruited through flyers at local races, college campuses, and health clubs; advertisements in local running newsletters and web sites; and by e-mail to area running clubs. Ninety healthy adult female runners, aged 18 – 53 and running a minimum of 20 miles/week, participated.

Subjects were contacted every three months for one year and asked about the frequency, intensity, and duration of their running; about any changes in their health or menstrual status; and to describe the occurrence of any running-related injuries.

Over half the runners in this study sustained a running-related injury in the year following their initial assessment. These injured runners consumed a diet significantly lower in total fat and lower in percentage of total energy from fat.

This finding agrees with two studies which both reported correlations between low fat diets and incidence of stress fracture risk in female runners.[7, 8].

All these studies are confirmed by the experiences of, Samantha Strong, a former collegiate triathlete and high school runner. The 22-year old graduate student estimates she had eight or nine  stress fractures over her high school and college careers. Each one, she says, took longer than the last to heal.

“Although Strong admits she is never far from the urges to control her eating and stay at a low weight, she is in a much better place than just a few years ago. “Since getting it out in the open and working with a nutritionist, I’ve had a growth spurt,” she says. “I put on about 15 pounds and grew two inches once I started eating.”

Even better: She now finds joy in running and is able to maintain about 50 miles per week without injury. “I haven’t had a stress fracture in a full year,” she says. “It’s exciting to be here.” [9]

Conclusion

In previous posts I covered how overtraining can lead to injury. When not consider overtraining, studies have found that fat intake was the most useful dietary factor in predicting future injury. Runners consuming less than the commonly recommended 30% of total calories from fat were 2.5 times as likely to sustain an injury compared with runners consuming 30% or more.[10]

As Dr. Timothy Miller, assistant professor of clinical orthopaedic surgery and sports medicine, points out: “When body mass index is very low and muscle mass is depleted, there is nowhere for the shock of running to be absorbed other than directly into the bones. Until some muscle mass is developed and BMI is optimized, runners remain at increased risk of developing a  stress fracture “. [11]

So as long as carbohydrate and protein needs are also met, it is advisable  to add some fat to your diet so you can stop stress fractures with good weight gain. Indeed, weight gain may be the key to healing stress fractures.

Fat intake was the most useful dietary factor in predicting future injury using a logistic regression, which may be of some clinical value to sports nutritionists. Further, the odds ratios revealed that runners consuming less than the commonly recommended 30% of total calories from fat were 2.5 times as likely to sustain an injury compared with runners consuming 30% or more. Interestingly, the highest fat intake of the injured group was 35.8% of total energy. Nine runners in the non-injured group exceeded this (with values of 36 – 47%) and sports nutritionists may want to consider ~36% as a conservative minimum fat intake for avoiding injuries, as long as carbohydrate and protein needs are also met.

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I like to hear from the readers so please leave me a comment below to let me know if this post helped you or if you have any questions.

Reference

1.Dowzer CN, Reilly T, Cable NT (1998) Effects of deep and shallow water running on spinal shrinkage. Br J Sports Med 32(1):44–48

2

IANS.

“Underweight female athletes at more risk of injuries.” IANA, 12, June 2017

3

Loudin, Amanda. “Low BMI could lengthen healing time, according to study on athletes  with fractures.” Washington Post. (June 16, 2017): News

4

Kristen E. Gerlach, Harold W. Burton, Joan M. Dorn, John J. Leddy and Peter J. Horvath “Fat intake and injury in female runners”

Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 5 (Jan. 3, 2008): p1.

5

Guest NS, Barr SI: Cognitive dietary restraint is associated with stress fractures in women runners. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism 2005, 15(2): 147-159.

6. Gerlach KE, White SC, Burton HW, Dorn JM, Leddy JJ, Horvath PJ: Kinetic changes with fatigue and relationship to injury in female runners. Medicine and science in sports and exercise 2005, 37(4): 657-663.

7

Bennell KL, Malcolm SA, Thomas SA, Reid SJ, Brukner PD, Ebeling PR, Wark JD: Risk factors for stress fractures in track and field athletes. A twelve-month prospective study. The American journal of sports medicine 1996, 24(6): 810-818.

8

Wiita BG, Stombaugh IA: Nutrition knowledge, eating practices, and health of adolescent female runners: a 3-year longitudinal study. International journal of sport nutrition 1996, 6(4): 414-425.

9

Loudin, Amanda. “Low BMI could lengthen healing time, according to study on athletes  with fractures.” Washington Post. (June 16, 2017): News

10

Kristen E. Gerlach, Harold W. Burton, Joan M. Dorn, John J. Leddy and Peter J. Horvath “Fat intake and injury in female runners”

Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 5 (Jan. 3, 2008): p1.

11

IANS.

“Underweight female athletes at more risk of injuries.” IANA, 12, June 2017