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The Weirdest Things – A Training Blog by MM Trainer Dan Van Veen

The Weirdest Things…

As a runner, we all know that although we can expect SOMEthing to mess up our training from time to time, whether it’s a pulled muscle/injury, weather, or some responsibility that conflicts with our running time. But there are also some really weird things that mess a run up and surprise us.

For example, I have had a run messed totally up simply because I couldn’t find (as I say) “my stinkin’ car keys.” Yeah, planning on meeting a friend for a run and instead of putting my car keys where they’re SUPPOSED to be, I left them in a pant pocket or set them down somewhere else for some reason. And I have read of people being surprised by their dog peeing/throwing up in their shoes, their shoe actually falling apart, or they simply lost track and don’t have any clean clothes to run (you could probably get away with wearing something over again in winter, but in summer…not only would the stink attract dogs and flies, the salt within the shorts and top (from sweating) could act like an abrasive.

ANYWAY, just going to tell you about my latest weirdest thing that really surprised me. For those that don’t know, I’m still on the road back to full recovery from blood clots in my lungs and legs (heredity can be a bummer at times : ). ANYWAY, I had a 10-mile run on Saturday and I felt pretty good. Got home and had some stuff to take care of outside. Walked outside, something buzzed at my head, I waved it away, and it came by and brushed my hand (never landing).

Well, it must have been a hornet and the stinkin’ little bugger stung me on the back of my hand. I looked and didn’t see a stinger, but scraped the spot in an attempt to get one out if it was in there. Then I went about my work outside. Well, over the course of the day, the hand began to swell. By that evening, my daughters were teasing me that it looked like I had a turtle shell on the back of my hand! I didn’t have a fever or feel ill, but my hand was swollen big time. I iced it (which was super weird as where the ice pack was touching the swelling moved away…and forced it into my fingers and wrist. So when I took the ice pack off, the hand swelled back up and my wrist and fingers remained swollen… sweet! Luckily I had taken my wedding ban off earlier!

Okay, what does this have to do with running? Well, on Monday, I met a friend for a run (hand still swollen). I made it a quarter-mile and had to stop to catch my breath…tried again…made it maybe a half mile. Walked and tried again…another half mile. We walked most of the way back from there… I couldn’t seem to breathe and felt incredibly sluggish. I got home and of course, told my wife what a horrible run I had…took my shower and afterwards stepped on the scale. In two days, I had gained 9 pounds!! And NO I had not “chowed” over the weekend! : )

What I figured out was I must have missed the stinger from the hornet. My wife scraped my hand with a credit card and from that point on, the swelling began to reduce…as the swelling in my hand reduced, my scale weight also reduced back to normal. My only guess is that I was somewhat allergic to that sting and the swelling occurred throughout my body, only not as intensely as it did in my hand…9 pounds of water weight as my body apparently was attempting to fight the poison from the sting.

Moral of the story? Well, besides making SURE you get the stinger removed from your body if stung by a hornet, sometimes the weirdest, unexpected things happen and mess things up, BUT in the case of something happening to your body, simply listen to your body. I could have FORCED myself to run more that Monday, but I knew SOMETHING was wrong. I didn’t know that I was 9 pounds heavier and I still don’t know where that water retention occurred…could it have been around major muscles…such as the heart? I don’t know for sure, but MAYBE. The key is, I felt bad, I knew it, and I didn’t push my body into a worse situation.

So, whether you get bit by something or are just outside running in the heat and your body is giving you a red flag, DON’T attempt to run through it. We all love the health (physical and mental) benefits of running and I believe there are few things more enjoyable then a run with friends, but our bodies are not indestructible. Much like young people take crazy chances because they mistakenly think they are invincible, runners can forget that they can experience serious health issues as well . . . you can’t outrun heredity, heat has no rivals, and cancer knows no boundary.

BUT having said that, running can give you the strength to help fight serious illnesses/diseases. And with heredity, you have to be aware of what your family history is prone to and be proactive about controlling it, with diet, exercise and if necessary, medication. I have friends who ask me why I run and then throw something out there about runners not living much longer than non-runners (some stat I’m sure they found on the Internet, and we all know how accurate THAT can be), but even if it was true that runners don’t have that much longer of a life span, the big deal for me is that the years I have are better quality years than my friends have. My investment in running in the mornings allows me to play with my kids at night and be active. Some people can’t even walk two flights of stairs by the time they’re 40…and it doesn’t magically get better after that.

Okay, sorry, I definitely started getting on a soap box there and went off on a tangent. : ) So, to RETURN to my focus, remember as you train, spring, winter, summer or fall, LISTEN to your body. Don’t believe in the lie that “mental toughness” overcomes all. Yes, we all need to be mentally tough when we just feel like giving up, but we also need to know the difference between “losing heart” and causing ourselves injury or possibly irreparable harm. Know what I mean? Be a smart runner! : )

Well, avoid those hornets and have an awesome run today! : )

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