To put it simply, my name is Tina and I was NOT born to run. What I mean by this is that I don’t have the body of a runner, inwardly or outwardly. I have minor scoliosis in my spine, tilted hips, plantar fasciitis in both feet, tendinitis in my hips and knees and exercise induced asthma to boot. Why do I run? Because I love it, of course! That would be the generic answer to this question, right? I’m not here to be generic, and I’m not here to flower it. Running is hard, running is brutal. Running can mess your body up, and running can put premature stress on your joints. Running can also prevent cardiac disease, running relieves stress, running allows your endorphins to rise, and above all: running allows you to delve deep within yourself and discover something new each time you strap on a pair of shoes.
Why am I qualified to tell you how, when and where to run? How can I inspire you to get off the couch in the morning and put in an extra hour of work towards your physical goals? I often hear phrases like, “Oh Tina, you don’t get it, I’m not a runner,” or, “I don’t have the body of a runner.” One of my favorites happens to be, “I don’t have the time.” Well folks, if you find yourself nodding at any of these *seemingly reasonable* excuses, I’d like to share a story with you.
I grew up with little to no physical gifts. I often enrolled in sports without bothering to learn them (bold, I know) and figured them out along the way, often making me the worst person on the team. I forged notes so I could skip my Physical Educations classes. But the one thing I hated more than any other sport was running, which was why my Dad recommending I join my High School’s team at age 14 was absolutely and utterly ludicrous to me. I ran a mile around a park for my brother and Dad’s sake and I was shocked to find out I’d made the team. I ran Cross Country and Track that year, struggling to integrate myself into a sport my body obviously wasn’t made for. I was thin, but an early bloomer, and let’s just say I was the reason “sports bra days” were banned for the female running teams at my school.
By Sophomore year, despite my physical limits, I’d become one of the fastest runners on the team, a regional champion of Southern Nevada and I was in line to take over the Varsity Cross Country and Track teams as Captain. I also went to physical therapy three times a week, had deep tissue massages (as relaxing as they sound, they actually HURT LIKE HELL and I’ve seen several grown men cry from receiving one), cross trained with pilates, had my back and hips cracked into place twice a week, taped my back straight (the alignment was off) twice a week, had an inhaler on me at all times and wore orthopedic arch supports just to survive my daily life. I took 800 mg of advil every four hours, suffered from stress migraines and iced my muscles and joints for an hour each night before applying “icy hot” and drifting off to sleep. This was my life. Nothing else mattered to me at 15 years old than beating these weaknesses and limitations and becoming number one.
Until I felt a hook in my calf.
A month and several x-ray results later, it was revealed I had a bone tumor the size of a baseball was growing in my calf, with a hooked cartilage cap over it that stabbed directly into my muscle every time I moved. I was in agony. Simply walking was hard enough for me, yet alone when I moved my leg the wrong way in my sleep. Have you ever had a cramped calf muscle? Multiply that by ten and imagine that all day long, 24/7, 7 days a week. I had it removed, but my running was never the same. Muscles had been cut, nerves had been severed, and my lower calf is still numb to this day. I worked my ass off to get back to where I’d been at 15 through my Junior and Senior year of High School, but it was never the same. I would not let this deter me. I was going to be a runner, the universe be damned. I went to college and started the “Wolf Pack Running Club” at the University of Nevada, Reno, where I held my Presidency for three years. I competed in Tough Mudders, 10k’s and 13 mile runs. And you know what I did after all of that?
I gave up.At twenty three, I was tired. My bones and joints hurt. I was weak, and I could no longer handle the pain in my hip or the burn in my foot after an intense run. But that’s not what this blog is about. This blog is about me getting back on the horse, so to speak. I’m not going to let this be for nothing. I’m not going to let my passion (okay, so I have some MIXED feelings about running) go down the drain simply because my body wasn’t designed the way I wished it was. I will work around it, I will maneuver myself and I will do whatever I have to do to make running an integral part of my life.