Sunday, April 23, 2017

Doing the Opposite

It was a quiet week for me. I was still processing all the "well-meaning" but pointed advice my family gave me when we got together last Sunday. While I understand their concerns, everyone was telling me what I should and shouldn't be doing. Suddenly, everyone in my world has become an expert on rheumatoid arthritis. Some of the things people are telling me are quite frightening.

Just because something happened to your aunt, friend, cousin, etc. with RA doesn't mean it's going to happen to me. Correlation does not imply causation. With regards to running and RA, running does not hurt your knees. Running will not make rheumatoid arthritis worse. Rheumatoid arthritis will tell you when you can't run or you have run enough. Trust me on this one. As someone who is used to pushing through the pain of running, this has been the toughest lesson for me to learn. I have no choice but to listen to my body to guide me through my daily activities. While in the past, I could push through a tough run without stopping, my body won't let me do that right now. So I'm figuring out ways to safely and comfortably make it work.


The captions in the title photo are some of the things people have actually said to me.

Do you remember the episode of Seinfeld, when George decides to do the opposite of what he would normally do? As the ongoing "loser" of the show, when he takes control of his life and throws caution to the wind, things turn out well for him. My favorite scene in the show is when, after being harassed at the movies, he does the opposite of what he would normally do, which is to ignore the hecklers, and takes control of the bullies:



Of course, real life isn't TV and I can't respond to my friends and family like this. So I just smile and nod and be nice because that's what I'm supposed to do.

I'm still running, doing the opposite of what everyone around me thinks I should be doing. Because if I don't run, I rust. Tom Petty may have had something different in mind when he wrote those lyrics, but the facts are indisputable. I just don't tell anyone anymore. What they don't know won't hurt them. They don't read my blog, so my little secret is safe here.

As I've mentioned previously, fatigue has been more of a limiting factor for me than pain. I was scheduled for a run on Monday, but I skipped it, having run 11 miles the day before and knowing I had a CrossFit interval session scheduled with Becky on Tuesday. I like the intervals she has me do and I wish I was doing them every week with her. This week I did Tabata intervals on the wind bike and rower, alternating with some of my favorite activities like slam balls and the slide board.


On Thursday, Steph and I worked out together with lunges, prowler pushes, goblet squats, and GHD extensions among other glute-firing activities. I'm glad I had Steph to push me because I really got winded. As hard as I tried, I could not catch her! Quite the opposite of what I've been used to!



I went to the yoga studio twice this week. On Wednesday, Carol led the class in what I can only describe as the opposite of what I expected. She had us do familiar poses in new ways, forcing us to experience "new sensations". There was a point during the class when I wanted to walk out. The class was hard and I hated it while I was doing it. I didn't like the "new sensations"! I even felt anger at the instructor for taking our practice in this direction. Later as I reflected back on the class, I realized how similar my feelings were on the mat to how I feel about RA. Same body, right? But new sensations, most of which I don't like at all. The things we learn on the mat...


The day after that yoga class, I was really sore. I joked that I felt like the Tin Man and I could have used some WD-40 in all my joints. I ran 5 miles, using those 4:1 run walk intervals and had a surprisingly great run. There were some points in the run where the run didn't feel hard and my legs felt like my pre-RA legs. I was so happy with my average 10:01 m/m pace.


Saturday's run went even better. I found even more gas in my tank and managed a strong 5 miler with an average pace of 9:36m/m. When I got home, I rewarded myself with a beet smoothie, just to keep the inflammation away. Not exactly the reward you had in mind, is it?

There was a bike ride on the plan for Sunday, and while my heart and head battled that one out--I wanted to run--I took my bike out for the first time this season. I had no expectations except I figured I'd be slow. Well, I was wrong about that. Endurance was definitely not an issue on my ride and I pushed my planned distance to 25 miles, riding in my favorite forest preserve. Part of the path was still under water from all the rains we've had this spring and like the warrior I pretend to be, I took my bike through the water. The second time I did that, I didn't anticipate how deep the water was and I was pedaling underwater. My feet were soaked and that water was cold! Luckily it was a gorgeous sunny day, and my wet feet didn't bother me too much.

What did bother me were my wrists. They are not good shock absorbers anymore--I felt every bump-- and I need to figure out how to make them more comfortable on the ride. If any of you cyclists out there have suggestions, I'm all ears!

I really enjoyed my ride and I'm glad Becky has those as part of my training plan. It probably did my legs good to avoid the pounding of another long run. Plus, it was the perfect spring day for a bike ride!
Bike selfies are always a challenge!

How was your week? Any "new sensations"? Any suggestions for my wrists on the bike? Do you run/walk? How do you reward yourself after a good run?

I'm linking up with my girls Holly and Tricia for the Weekly Wrap!










101 comments :

  1. I think it's hard when friends and family mean well, but their advice may do more harm than good. I think that you are handling your RA as well as you. It's still very new to you, but you are pulling back when you need to and listening to your body.

    Sometimes I do a run/walk method, but it's not consistent which gets me in trouble!

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    1. I think I've found my groove with the run/walk method right now!

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  2. I do run/walks sometimes, but usually by default. I have no shame in a 10/20-second walk break if the going is tough and my mind and body aren't in sync.That Seinfeld clip is so funny....totally LOVED that show!!

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    1. The difference between doing run/walk by default and doing it as intervals is that you don't want to push yourself to fatigue. You start doing the intervals from the get-go, even if you feel like you should keep running. So when I take a walk break, it's not for recovery. The goal is to keep my heart rate up. I try to walk fast through that 1 minute break. It takes a little getting used to and maybe I will be able to go back to all running. For now, this is what works.

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  3. You're an expert at listening to your own heart. And head. And body.
    It sounds as though your plan, let your well-meaning family and friends talk, smile, and do what you know is best. (Insert love emoticon here).

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    1. I try to smile, but sometimes it's more of a grimace.

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  4. I seem to be in an eternal bike/walk loop with my stubborn IT band issue. I haven't run in months. Injury and body fails are so mentally trying. I can't help feeling how unfair it is. I.e.: my obese coworker that downs McDonald's daily doesn't seem to have pain lifting her egg mcmuffin to her mouth, but I can't run to my mailbox without my body filing a complaint. WTF??? I haven't had a good run in months, but if I get one I will reward myself with 🍷 And sending updates to my running friends who "get me".

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    1. But what about drowning your pain in wine? LOL... ITB is tough to get past. I've been there--don't want to go back. Hoping some day that it comes to an end for you.

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  5. So glad to hear that you finished the week with some great runs! And you got on your bike too. Do you wear gloves when you bike with the padding? When my wrists hurt it usually means I am gripping too hard on the handle bars or my positioning is off and I need to move farther back in the saddle. Hope one of those helps!

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    1. I do wear gloves with the padding. It's the rough roads that hurt my wrists. I'm wondering if a wrist brace would help with some shock absorption?

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  6. Bike rides are fun! Mine is still sitting on the trainer because I've become lazy about gearing up to go out on a weekday. I have bike gloves that have slight padding on the wrist wraps. I bet you could find some with even more padding. I should try that opposite thing. BTW -- PoPo is a Seinfeld junkie, quoting many of his favorite lines (LOL). Thanks for linking, Wendy!

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    1. I will try to find some more padded gloves! It can only help, right?

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  7. Old sensations of hot flashes and insomnia this week. I felt like I was running through sand yesterday I was so groggy after only 3 hours of sleep.

    People mean well. Even when they're wrong ;)

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    1. It just gets old. Like the hot flashes and insomnia....

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  8. Try putting on another layer of bar tape on your handlebars. Just put it right on top of the first layer. It might look a little thick but it will be much more comfortable.

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  9. Oh yes, I've been running and walking since January and doing really well. I battle fatigue too. So happy your runs went well and 25 miles on the bike?? Awesome!! I miss taking yoga classes since I've become an instructor. I work out with my class so I was extra tired last week. I had a great nap after church this afternoon! Hope you have another strong running week!

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    1. I hope so too! There weren't as many miles as I'd hoped but I know from experience that I'll be ok.

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  10. I have been to classes before where I have wanted to walk out as well. But I didn't want to make a scene so I always push through and I am always happy that I end up finishing the class. It is always a good sore!

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  11. I am glad the run/walk method is working out for you. I am sure family and friends mean well and they tell you those things because they care about you but I know it is frustrating to hear what they have to say. Just smile and nod. :-)

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    1. Yep, just smile and nod. That's what I try to do...

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  12. I love your yoga class reflections ---> made me think about all those "step outside your comfort zone" memes we see. Glad to see you had a good week. Keep inspiring us :)

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    1. That class was a leap outside of my comfort zone! but once I gave it some thought, it all made sense. Funny how that happens!

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  13. Ah, I'm sure all the advice stemmed from good intentions, but sheesh! You know you, and you know what's best for you. Glad you had some good runs this week - and a good ride. I can't imagine going through water that deep - I am afraid of the shallowest puddles!

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    1. I had no idea that puddle was so deep!

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  14. The comments from the peanut gallery would be hilarious if they weren't so irritating. I know it's hard to tolerate all the "experts". Have you tried redistributing your weight on the bike so you're putting more on your feet and booty and less on your hands?

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    1. Right? My grandma never exercised! But that's my new standard, apparently.

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  15. It's so hard because you know your family has good intentions, but it's so frustrating having to field everyone's unsolicited advice. Hang in there - it sounds like you had a good week!

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    1. I guess now I've learned not to do the same thing to other people!

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  16. Non-runners just don't get it. :) My mother says... " I worry about you about 'that' marathon. It's just not good for you. " You got this Wendy - you're strong as hell!

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    1. Sheesh--I thought the comments I got when I ran the marathon were bad...

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  17. Oh my gosh, those comments. Well meaning maybe?? But geez people, how about a little support! Just because you don't understand it doesn't me it's - in your case, running - bad.

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    1. Right? Support? What's that? I've learned a lot about what not to say to people. How about: "how are you?"

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  18. People who don't run just don't understand. Trust your instincts, they've been good to you so far. I think on the bike just make sure to keep your wrists in a neutral position and don't overgrip the handlebars. Take your hand off every now and then and just do some flexion/extension. I'm not sure if this will help, but it's always worth a try. Also, since this was the first ride of the season it may just be a matter of building up strength. Good luck!

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    1. I'm just wondering if it's the RA in my wrists--I'm going to start looking into some wrists braces for support.

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  19. I did my long run of 6.5 miles in intervals. It was all about just logging miles and not pace so I thought this would help. It was hot and humid already tough to run in. I was very slow but I got it all done and really with my watch being set on intervals I didn't just zone in on how much more I had to go. I was at 6.5 before I knew it. I ran for 3 minutes walked for 1.
    I can not even imagine all the flack your getting from everyone! They must not know the Wendy I do! :)

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    1. I was thinking how the intervals will help me once it gets warm. I'm going to do RnR Chicago and I think these intervals will be just the thing for a hot half in July in Chicago!

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  20. People say the worst and dumbest things and sometimes they come from family, which is even harder to take. BUT you are one of the strongest women (and smartest!) I know so you keep doing what you're doing. I also love the opposite thing and that clip from Seinfeld - the best!! I'm also REALLY enjoying my outdoor rides! Keep your head up Wendy and be YOU because you are awesome and you know your body!!

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    1. I thought I knew my body! But this new body? I'm learning all about it.

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  21. Oh Florida. Everyone is always an expert. And while I typically choose to believe everyone is also well-meaning :-) it's exhausting for sure
    Here's to exhaustion trumping pain this week for you. Neither one is a good choice but I would surely pick the latter if forced to xoxo

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    1. Lots of mental gymnastics and self restraint going on here!

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  22. Laughing. At. Autocorrect. LORDY not Florida!!!!

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    1. I thought it was a new expression I didn't know about! LOL!

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  23. So glad that run walk seems to be helping. SO happy to hear it! We will get you to that finish line yet!

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    1. I'm actually really surprised at how well the intervals are working. Who knew? Oh, right, Jeff Galloway....

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  24. I bet thats really frustrating to have everything giving you advice. You know your body best, and are working with doctors to figure out the best plan. But I think as runners we (your blog friends) can relate to why it's so important to you. Glad you had some good runs this week!

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    1. I guess the lesson for the week was to keep an open mind and expect the opposite!

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  25. My rewards really differ just based on how I feel.

    Obviously, you know I run/walk. And one of the purposes behind run/walk is to keep fatigue at bay, actually (although I still get tired at the end of a long run or a half). Since starting up with them 2 years ago, I've never looked back.

    Just be prepared for people to potentially tell you "you can do it!" when you take a walk break during a race. I get that a lot . . .

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    1. I didn't know you used run/walk, actually! I always just assumed everyone runs! I've figured that people will be telling me "you can do it"...

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  26. My actual running pace has slowed down to the point where some days run/walk feels like a more productive workout to me. The trick is in finding that magic spot of time for each of the intervals. I'm glad it seems to be helping.

    I know people mean well but I'm not sure they understand the psyche of an injured runner. I know this is a medical issue but it's causing you the same agita as an injury. I think you're doing great with lots of variety to keep your endorphins up.

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    1. It is just like being injured--you hit the nail on the head. I think it's funny how all the non-runners have the advice.

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  27. Oh those well-meaning family members...I know you will ignore that noise! I was so happy to see your interval runs went well. Such great news! But too bad about the new sensations in yoga lol...sometimes I like to experiment and try different poses in yoga, and sometimes I need to keep it simple!

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    1. Looking back on that class, it was actually a really good lesson for me. Never get too complacent--you just don't know what's lurking around the corner!

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  28. You listen to everyone and then do what feels right for you. It may not be right but who really knows.

    I think the run-walk is great for long runs and long races. I run and walk but not officially but if I ever do a marathon, that would have to be the way. I am not a strong enough runner to run the whole anything after 5 miles.

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    1. I think you are strong enough to do any distance you want! After working with the run/walk method, I do think that it would make a marathon much more doable for me.

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  29. My rheumatologist told me not to stop moving to keep my joints fluid. So yeah, I agree, if you stop moving you'll rust!

    I would also do the opposite of what people said... I'm stubborn!

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    1. See, this is why I like you. You totally get me!

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  30. Its always so frustrating to receive unsolicited advice. You do you, and focus on what your doctor is advising you to do. Everybody else should be minding their own business, unless you ask them for it.

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    1. I keep hearing the "they mean well" comment, but then that puts it back on me to be gracious. Why can't people just be accepting?

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  31. I'd say you had a pretty good week! I'm feeling like fatigue from car accident (dealing with whiplash) is taking a toll on me. I need more rest, more sleep. Though I'm training for a half marathon, I'm also having to listen to my body and take those rest days when I really need them.

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    1. It's hard to listen to your body when it tells you things you don't want to hear! Now that I've stopped fighting with mine, things are going much more smoothly. I hope you're feeling better.

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  32. Dang. I have wrist issues too, for some reason. I can't do bicep curls or push-ups anymore and I have a hunch I'd have the same problem as you on the bike. Family can be such a pain in the ass sometimes. Never mind RA...more like family arthritis.

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    1. I've got to do some research--thinking I need to wear wrist braces now when I ride. I'm getting so old...

      Haha, family arthritis! Isn't that the truth?

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  33. I make it a rule for myself to never tell my family my opinion of what they are doing... because I know that 1. They dont' care and 2. they don't need me being a pain about their lives and 3. They will do whatever they want to do anyway!

    Good for you for not listening to them! You know and are learning what will work for you now.

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    1. I wish they'd just care about me and that's it. No judgement and no advice. That is all.

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  34. So many people think running hurts your knees. It's different if you have a previous knee injury, but if you don't, as you know, it should be fine. Maybe you can show your well-meaning relatives this link: https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/11/phys-ed-can-running-actually-help-your-knees/?_r=0

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    1. I'm sure my family is getting tired of all the links I'm sending them, but I will forward this one as well. Maybe they'll take the hint?

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  35. I liked that you linked to an actual scholarly article on why it's good for you to exercise! ;)
    You are listening to your body and your doctor, just because people mean well doesn't mean they are helpful.
    Your recap of the yoga class gave me a chuckle. Sometimes that things we need are not the things we want!
    I always find it a bit ironic when people say things about how running is bad for you and/or how biking is dangerous. You know what else is dangerous, driving a car but many people do that everyday!

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    1. I'm all about evidence based medicine! No voodoo here.

      And you are right--sometimes the things we need are not the things we want. So true!

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  36. Girl, I hear ya. Someone recently told me to 'dry my eyes' when I talked about not being able to run for over seven months. It wasn't with malice, but still. Sending you another cyber beer now! �� And congrats for the kick butt workouts this week!

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    1. That cyber beer was delicious!!! I'm sending one back! Thank you!

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  37. I am glad the run/walk method is working! You also had some serious workouts this week- serious! People don't understand that if you are not a work you should be sitting at home in a vegetative state- good thing you and I both no better!

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    1. Right? I'm no where near I was a few months ago but I guess I shouldn't be doing anything...I told my hubs that this isn't Workman's comp and I won't be penalized for working out...

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  38. Bike selfies are the toughest! You did well! I did the pedal through water thing on a winter trail ride. WHOOPS. I don't know what I was thinking except, don't pedal don't pedal and then DAMN I pedaled and my boots are going to be full of water. FORTUNATELY they only got a wee teeny bit damp, guess that's how they also keep the wind and cold out!

    Try different sorts of gloves with padding in the sensitive areas, is the best advice I can muster. There are some that have thicker pads in the middle and that seems like an interesting concept.

    Best wishes as you do what you want!

    Rest is rust as the saying goes.

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    1. I'm thinking I need wrist braces or something to help me absorb the shock. I'll also take my bike to get the fit checked. but I think it's all RA.

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  39. I can't imagine how frustrating the comments fro your well meaning family can be! I do run/walk .9/.1, throughout the summer in this heat/humidity and I did it at my last half with good results too.

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    1. Glad to hear it! So many people have shared their run/walk success stories with me and it's amazing how many of us are out there doing it!

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  40. When I'm uncomfortable in yoga, it's usually because we're doing a pose I'm either not strong enough to hold or I need to work on. So, similarly to you, I might not like it when I'm doing it but when it's over I realize I needed to do it.

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    1. It was so good that I did that class. Glad I had the insight to figure that out!

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  41. Last week I completed instructor training to lead Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program classes for the county dept. on aging, and next week my class starts in the community. I'm excited about it, and honored to be able to help those living with arthritis to feel better through exercise.

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  42. What is it with people thinking running is bad for you. I've heard so many times that it's going to kill my knees. My mom has arthritis, and before she had back problems, running was the only time she felt better!

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    1. Right? My joints don't bother me when I run, it's that fatigue that's getting me! Crazy, right?

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  43. I've never done a formal run/walk during training but I like walking through the water stations at races since I can't run and drink apparently. Good to hear you're somehow figuring out the new you and hope you'll be able to manage the fatigue as well.
    I love beets! What do you mix with your smoothie?

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    1. When I make the beet smoothies, I use frozen cherries and tart cherry juice. I also use yogurt or kefir and pineapple. I throw in some protein powder too. The last time I made it, it was fantastic!

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    2. I've read about the benefits of tart cherry juice and love the flavor or cherries.
      This sounds like a delicious recovery drink!

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    3. It's one of my favorites and I look forward to it!

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  44. Wendy, I'm so glad you are finding some success and satisfaction with the intervals! It's just what you need to push you through until you are feeling better. I've been doing them myself for two weeks now and they have helped me adjust to my new orthotics ....and also helping with the adjustment to this hot and humid weather we're already having. Ignore the naysayers and keep pressing on!

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    1. I am so pleasantly surprised by the success of these intervals! I know now that I can do RnR Chicago without a problem--I'm going to do intervals for that one no matter what.

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  45. Gotta love how everyone has an opinion...

    Sounds like you are finding some ways to make things work with the "new body." Keep it up and keep listening. I know you've got this.

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    1. I'm actually pretty surprised about all the opinions too. Didn't expect that. Ok, moving on.

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  46. Glad to hear you got a couple of good runs in there with the intervals! I've tried run/walk intervals and found it being a nice change. I did it with a group at their pace but it would be interesting to try going faster and see how it feels. I am amazed of those that can run/walk intervals and still get sub 2 hour half marathons.

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    1. Well, you just never know, do you? I used to frown upon intervals, and once again, I've learned, don't knock it until you try it!

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  47. A couple ideas about wrists and biking...

    I assume it's a road bike. Do you usually ride with your hands on the flat part of the bar or on the hoods? The hoods might be more comfortable because they don't require your wrists to bend the same way they do when you're on the flat part. Also, switching around helps me a lot - ride part of the time on the hoods, part of the time on the flat.

    If you're using flat bars, or riding on the flat part of road bike handlebars, look at what your wrists are doing. Do you see a sharp bend at your wrist joint, like almost a square angle between your forearm and your hand? If so, try fidgeting around with your hand position and see if you can get less of a bend and more of a straight line from your forearm through the knuckles on the base of your fingers. For me, this mean keeping the "heel" of my hand higher on the bar - if I don't pay attention, the heel slips down lower makes the angle where my wrist bends sharper. Of course, I mountain bike more than road bike, and the placement of the shifters on the mountain bike handlebars kind of encourages the heels of my hands to sink unless I'm paying attention.


    You might try rotating the handlebar a little or even raising it to get a little weight off your hands. And if you go into a bike shop for a fit, you can check to see if the handlebars are the right width relative to your shoulders.

    I like beet smoothies too! I haven't tried with frozen cherries yet but I'm going to pick some up today!

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    1. I appreciate all your input. I ride mostly with my hands on the hoods (the curvy part of the handlebars). The pain only comes with the jarring of the rough roads. I assume it's the RA/inflammation and the shock of the bumps just makes it hurt so bad. There was a point on my ride when I had to slow down, sit up and just shake out my wrists. I will go get my bike fit-checked, but since it has never bothered me before, I'm again pretty sure it's the RA. Damn. You just don't know when it's going to strike next.

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  48. I have psoriatic arthritis (PsA)and I have to use Jeff Galloway's run/walk intervals now. The pain in my SI joints gets unbearable. I can actually run pretty fast on the intervals. I set my Garmin to mph. I usually run 8 mph on the run part and walk for about 45 seconds or less. Never thought I would be doing that.

    On the wrist thing my PsA affects my right wrist only. I was on the road bike today and I started out with my hands on the brake hoods which really bends the wrist. I went to brake and my right hand wouldn't even move, it felt like it was made of wood! I usually ride with my left hand on the brake hood and my right hand resting on its side on the top of the bar. On my mountain bike and fat bike I have bar ends and I use those.

    I had to give up Les Mills classes at the YMCA. I just lift on my own now. You've been running marathons so I would keep doing it as long as nothing is too painful, and your inflammation levels are normal. I've been on Enbrel for a year now and doing well. I asked my dr about working out and he said working out will not bring on a flare. My husband said, I don't think he knows what you do though!! I have ckd from years of NSAID use, so I can't take any pain relievers, so it's just the Enbrel for me and supplements. I'm 50 and I'm going to continue to do what I've been doing, I guess until I can't!

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    1. Thank you so much for all your comments. This is the stuff I need to hear. I did a lot of switching of my hands on that ride. Sorry to hear about the ckd. My rheum tells me to avoid NSAIDS and I do, except when I get my MTX headaches. Glad to hear you are pushing on! That inspires me.

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  49. I've been so disconnected lately with my hubby getting home etc. I didn't realize, you aren't working anymore due to your RA? Gosh Wendy, I am sorry you are going through all of this. Sending lots of hugs and prayers. Your pace sounds awesome so if you ever want to meet up for a run, HOLLER!

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    1. I haven't made it public (I'm putting it in my Runfessions post tomorrow) but yes, I'm on LOA from work. I've been really struggling with fatigue and couldn't keep up with the pace at my job. I'm not sure what I'm going to do. Clearly, I'm having a hard time (as evidenced by my running too!). Thanks for the support. I'm trying to stay positive.

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    2. Sorry to hear that, but it sounds like you made the best choice. Sending lots of prayers!

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