2013 was my lowest mileage year in, well...I don't know how long. After running 50 miles at Rocky Raccoon back in February of 2013, I just didn't feel quite right. I couldn't put my finger on it exactly at first, just knew that I felt blah all through spring. Running even the tiniest of hills left me gasping for air. The gallbladder and digestive troubles got worse. Fatigue plagued me and although I was eating healthy, drinking tons of water and getting lots of sleep, I was still tired. Too tired to run much, or do much of anything physically demanding. The foot pain started in late summer and I found I was hobbling and limping around in the mornings getting ready and for once, I could not blame my aches and pains on running since not a lot of running was happening. My family doctor felt like it was some type of arthritis and referred me to a rheumatologist and my tests have finally (after a 2 week wait. excrutiating!) come back and my ANA test (Antinuclear antibodies) was positive. ANA tests for autoimmune antibodies and indicates an autoimmune disease like RA, lupus or MS, although there are a lot of different AI diseases these are the most common. Another test all but ruled out RA. Foot x-rays revealed moderate to severe arthritis in both feet and arthritis in my spine and hands as well. Not exactly good news...but a part of life I suppose and I will do everything I know to do to fight this naturally and give my body all of the tools I can to heal, although there is no cure for autoimmune disease. Hopefully a more definitive answer will come soon.
What does this mean for long distance running? I don't know. As long as I can spend time on the trails and stay active, I'll be happy with giving up ultras and running shorter distances. One of my first worries after I learned about the test results was if I'd be able to continue running and the doctor said YES, absolutely. He said I'm probably going to ache and hurt whether I run or not, and movement is good so to keep moving. I've gone back to basics and stopped timing my running at all. Mr. Garmin sits in a drawer getting dusty and I'm loving the freedom from looking at my watch! Very liberating. No training schedules, just slow 3-4 milers at lunch or around the neighborhood. Fun trail runs on the weekend with friends with no pressure or super long distances. Trying to be kind to my body right now. I've pushed it so hard for several years and I feel like it's screaming at me to give it rest. Finally, I'm listening.
I haven't posted here in so long because this is a running blog after all..and I wasn't running. ;-) But I did want to update on why, and where I'd like to go from here. No big lofty running goals right now, just 100% focused on getting my health back and enjoying running again.
This past year has taken me on a journey of exploring a different way of eating and I will share that soon as I'm still figuring all of that out. For now I'm eating Paleo but since it is looking like I have something autoimmune going on, I may switch to the very restrictive Paleo Autoimmune Protocol to see if I see any positive results and can identify any food allergies or triggers with that.
I'm still here, alive and kicking and working on getting stronger. :)
Happy 2014 everyone, hope you are starting out the year healthy and happy.