Dave’s last day.
This morning, I started on my second full week of running, and I felt… well, not fantastic. And as much as my shins were killing me, it was mostly in my head – always a dangerous place to live. I wanted to move with grace, speed and the fluidity of Scott Jurek. I’m pretty sure I was running more like a duck.
It was cool, about 55°, a little damp, and a little windy when we started running. The sun was up, and we weren’t in any hurry.
Dean dropped Dave and me off at the gas station in Havelock, where we stopped the day before, and we headed South. There were no trails today, but there are usually fewer cars on Sundays than on other days, so we were able to engage in a little conversation.
The run itself was fairly uneventful. We generally went straight south, all of it on road and passed through Newport. There were a few nice shops there (even a craft brewery), and we ended the day at the head of a section of North Carolina State Game Land. I foresee a lot of sand in my future.
Dave and I rode back to the campsite in Dean’s Tahoe. We ate, showered took a few pictures with Ken and Tiffani (managers at Whispering Pines Campground) and hugged goodbye. I was more than grateful for the time he spend running with me. Is inspiration was essential. What could have otherwise been a low moment turned into a learning experience. We both wanted to show others with cancer, and others with Myeloma, specifically, how to live and to provide resources when we could. By the end of our nine mile run, my brain was buzzing.
Every time we talk Dave motivates me. He encourages me. He is a life-sized representation of a model multiple myeloma patient. Which doesn’t mean that I can put him in my pocket or store him on my shelf. However, I can praise him for the strength and positive energy that he brought with him from Canada.
I’m not a particularly woo-woo, hippy-dippy, thousand petal lotus, vibration-controlling kind of guy, but I do think positive energy begets positive energy. Yes, I used the word beget in a sentence – move on.
I’m not a healthcare professional, and I can’t tell you what will get you over the hump, feel more like you, or get you to that next state of awesomeness. However, I can tell you what seems to work for me. Spoiler alert: I’m as full of doubt and self-loathing as the next person. Harnessing the energy to get up in the morning is usually the toughest part of my day. So, you’ve got this.
What seems to keep me moving forward: (it might be all in my head)
- Fake it until your cheeks start to hurt. Starting with a smile, creates the illusion that everything is going to work out. I know that sounds silly, but I really think like this. Your judgment has been noted.
- Suffering is just the bridge to kickass. And a shower. And maybe something really good to eat.
- Don’t tell everybody how they could live their lives better – unless they ask. I know this sounds hypocritical coming from somebody who is trying to encourage others to a healthy and active lifestyle, but y’all asked, and I don’t think I’m telling you anything you don’t already know. When I start to sound like a know-it-all, I’m just going to piss you off and I like you too much to do that. Yes, even you.
- STOP dwelling on what hurts. I know we shouldn’t entirely ignore pain. But take it for what it is. Analyze it. Address it. Do the best you can. Move on.
- Acute pain (immediate, in the moment), often means there is a break, a tear, or something big is happening right now.
- Chronic, persistent pain means that whatever hurts has possibly been developing for awhile and that it might persist for awhile longer.
- You can choose to live or you can choose to complain. The second option isn’t a good one. Don’t do it.
- Move. This means a lot of different things to different folks, so take a few minutes to think about this. The most important thing is that you push the boundaries of your current comfort zone. If your daily activity is structured around a Snuggie, Cheetohs and a remote control, you’ve set the bar pretty low. On the flip side, if you can run across the entire Sahara Desert, you’re probably rolling your eyes and thinking, “I can eat Cheetohs whenever I darn well please.”
- Plan. Once the doing it is out of the way, it’s time to put it on the calendar. It’s a lot easier to stick to something, if I have a day and time that I’m supposed to do it. Not surprisingly I get sore doing one thing (like running), so I’ll plan on doing something else on the next day (like swimming). And some days I’m really really sore, so I’ll step back and do something even more mellow (like jump in a Snuggy and eat Cheetohs).
- Get a Coach. I have a coach. She yells at me. It works. Kellie doesn’t really yell at me (much), but she does motivate me. Also, she tracks how hard I have worked, how much stress it’s putting on my body, and when to dial it back a notch.
- Like most things in life, we all struggle with being truly objective when taking care of ourselves. I don’t think we always need a top-shelf fitness expert, like Kellie, but sometimes we just need another person who cares about us enough to keep us honest, help us plan and review the plan.
- There are multiple apps and platforms that you can use to do that. MyFitnessPal, Training Peaks, Garmin Connect, Strava, and MapMyRun, are just a few of the ones I know of. There are lots of others and most of them are pretty great. Also, most of them don’t charge you anything to use the basic version. It’s a great place to start.
- Don’t eat so many Cheetohs. Seriously, you have to fuel properly. I’m not going to tell you that I eat great all the time – I don’t. But you at least need to make an effort.
- Start small. Pick one meal or snack that you eat every day and make it better. For example, if you normally eat Oreos for dessert after dinner every night, change that to apple slices for a week. It’s not perfect, but it’s a start.
- I won’t preach about the advantages of plant-based diets over meat at every meal, dairy issues, or gluten-free, but all of those things contribute to how you feel and you have to pay attention to it.
- I do happen to eat more things that are plant-based and cleaner. I try to not eat quite so many things that are processed. I try to pick local. I try to organic. These things aren’t always possible, so I don’t stress out about it. Fueling well is always a goal.
Understand, I am not a healthcare professional or a licensed nutritionist. I am an athlete (most days), I have a lot of experience in moving, and I have cancer. Despite saying that I “won’t be defined by this,” my cancer is factored every day. I know what works for me for right now. I purposefully pay attention because I take daily maintenance chemotherapy, I am not in remission, my disease is merely “stable” and I see doctors a few times every month. I take notes. I work at making this disease work for me. Maybe some of this will work for you.
Can we all raise our Cheetohs in hopes that one day we won’t have to work so hard at staying alive?
Until then…Keep Moving Forward.