Fitness Friday

Fitness Friday: The Comeback Kid by Donna Olivia Owusu-Ansah

Don’t call it a comeback...I been here for years!
— LL Cool J (Mama Said Knock You Out)

Except I I haven’t. I basically took an entire year off.

So you can call it a comeback. That’s what I’m calling it. I’m making a comeback! And by comeback, I mean I’m taking to the treadmill in triumph. I’m pounding the pavement with pleasure. I’m returning to racing with resilience. I’m getting back to the activity—running—which has been a source of health, joy, clarity, encountering God, and a part of my identity for 12 years. I mean really…how can Reverend Mother Runner not run if she is able? And why am I talking in third person?

Anyway.

I’m making a comeback! In my Interval Time app on my phone, I’ve dubbed my workouts Comeback Kid Part 1, Comeback Kid Part 2, etc, etc. These labels remind me that coming back is a process and that if I’ve comeback before and I can do it again. According to popular definition, a Comeback Kid is “a  person who repeatedly demonstrates the propensity to overcome downturns or periods of bad publicity, and rebound to victory or popularity.” In my twelve year running journey, I have made many comebacks. I started running in 2006 to lose weight for my friends wedding and ran for over a year until my coursework in Seminary became overwhelming. I started running again in 2009 during my final year in Seminary when it was clear that my physical and emotional health was suffering because of my intense focus on my studies. I continued running for a year and a half until the comfort of newlywed life was more appealing than hitting the pavement. I started running again In January of 2013 when Big Girl was 8 months old and it was clear that I was suffering from Postpartum Depression. I know some people dread running, but I love it; Among other things, running has a way of lifting me when I am low. I ran until I became pregnant with Baby Girl. As I’ve shared on other platforms, I ran my first 10K when I was unknowingly pregnant with her. I stopped running when hyperemesis gravidarum kicked in (again) and I was sick. I started running again in 2014 at four weeks postpartum and ran consistently until December 2018, a month after running the Philadelphia Marathon. It is clear that I am quite familiar with making a comeback.

I wore my Philadelphia Marathon Finisher shirt this week to remind myself of where I’ve been and where I’m going

I wore my Philadelphia Marathon Finisher shirt this week to remind myself of where I’ve been and where I’m going

And while I had fits and starts in 2018, this feels different. This is different. I miss running in a palpable way. My legs miss running. My heart misses running. My mind misses running. My sermon prep even misses running. And I’m not going to front as if returning to the treadmill and pavement has been easy. It has been downright hard, but I’m pacing myself, leaning into the discomfort, and extending myself grace—which I believe is the trifecta for making a comeback!

Have you fallen off the proverbial fitness wagon? Are you stuck in a rut? If so, join me in making a comeback! And I invite you to check in to the blog every now and then to read my comeback journey and share yours…because who doesn’t love a comeback story?

Fitness Friday: Curing the Post Marathon Blues by Donna Olivia Owusu-Ansah

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In June 2015, I ran my very first half marathon: The Niagara Falls Women's Half Marathon. It was a grueling and eye-opening training cycle. It was an equally exhilarating race. I mean Katherine "261 Fearless" Switzer hugged me just after I crossed the finish line. I even signed up for the 2016 race before our tire tracks faded in Canada.

I was so proud of myself for running 13.1 miles and I was ready for more. Except I wasn't. I worked out hardcore for about two weeks and then I came down with a case of the post-half marathon blues. I was in a funk. It was bad y'all. And no matter how I tried to be active, whether running or at the gym, fitness eluded me. My eating went to the dumps. It didn't help that my work as a chaplain ramped all the way up and my once crawling Baby Girl started to toddle. I stayed in that slump until the Trenton Half Marathon and 10k race at the end of October. Almost five loooooonnnggg months. If the Trenton 10k wasn't my official Black Girls Run Runniversary and my favorite race (at the time), I might still be in that slump. 

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Fast forward to today. Without being keenly aware of it, I caught the post-marathon blues. The symptoms are almost exactly the same. I signed up for the 2018 Philadelphia Marathon laying in my hotel room in Philly with somewhat sore muscles. I worked out hard following the marathon. When I should have been recovering, I was at a Soca Twerkout class with my medal on three days after run/walk/crawling 26,2 miles. Who does that? Seriously? Anyway, I logged miles and strength trained until it hit me. Fatigue. Exhaustion. Burnout. Keep in mind, even as my activity slowed down to nothing, I was still eating as if I was logging 20 plus miles a week. Plus, mommy and wife guilt set in. I have been overcompensating with cleaning and cooking for my negligence during my training cycle.My Instant Pot has been putting in werk! Now four months later I recognize that I have a case of the post-marathon blues. 

If the months of lack of exercise and eating didn't clue me in, what did it? I had been trying here and there to get myself back on the pavement consistently, or at least back in the gym. I even blogged about it. But I knew I was in bad shape—pun intended—when my hair became an excuse for not working out.

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If you have known me for more than three months, you know that I thrive on changing my hair. It's what I do. It's what I've done since wielding my first curling iron in fourth grade. So, for 2018, I got a new hairdo, an undercut. My sides are shaved, but the stylist left the length on top for me to play with. And real talk, I love my hair! The cut is here to stay in 2018 and may even be my thing for the foreseeable future. This weekend I discovered a roller set that had my curls poppin'! Anyway, on this past Sunday night, as I prepared for Monday, I took out  my workout clothes. When I woke up Monday morning, I slipped into my workout clothes as planned, but decided I wasn't going to the gym. Why, you ask? My curls were still poppin' and my hair was FIERCE! And because my satin pillowcase is the truth, my hair was fierce all week (and I didn't work out all week).

 Really Donna? I can see Monday, but you didn't workout ALL week because of your hair?  You haven’t used your hair as an excuse for health and fitness for at least twelve years. That's so 2006 of you, girl!

And this, my friends, was enough to open my eyes to what was going on. So I reviewed my symptoms: No exercise. Poor nutrition. Bloating. Tiredness. Winded after everyday activities. Weight gain. Irritability. Not training for an upcoming race in April. 

Diagnosis: Post-Marathon Blues

Prognosis: Treatable

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The good news is that just as I overcame the post-half marathon blues and went on to run more 5k, 10k, half marathons and my first full marathon, I will overcome this slump! I don't have a rigid treatment plan, but I have started my road back to 26.2 by increasing my water intake, getting more sleep, and making up my mind to get my body moving again. And since the hair was the clue that I had a problem, it is the first symptom I've actively addressed. Earlier today I got my hair braided (I love it!!!!) so that styling my hair after a workout so its presentable (ok, beautiful) for work is not an issue. I look forward to sharing my workouts with you next Fitness Friday!

So, dear readers, have you ever been in a fitness funk or experienced the fitness blues? How have you overcome those moments? Let's talk. Comment below.