Monday, August 15, 2011

Running Away My Headaches

I've always hated running. When I was on the tennis team in high school, my most dreaded part of practice was running. My sister was on the track and cross country teams, and while I admired her ability and her drive, I thought she was crazy. My friends who are runners seem to belong to some kind of cult or be on running highs because they're so into it and seem addicted. Who would want to torture themselves by constantly moving, having trouble breathing, experiencing pains and injuries, and being bored out of their minds?

Apparently, me.

I'm getting so SICK of my headaches and migraines that I'll do just about anything to get rid of them, even if it means torturing myself by running. I just recently started running, and amazingly I've discovered that once you start to build your endurance, running really isn't torture. My biggest mistake in the past was running too soon after eating and drinking, which gave me side stitches. Once I was able to avoid those, I realized that running was tolerable. Heck, maybe even fun. Why is this crazy girl calling running fun, you might ask?
  • It gets me outdoors. Running on the beach with my sister back in May started this whole thing. Now I run mostly on the treadmill due to the heat, although I have gone on a few runs on the nearby Greenway which is nice and shaded. The last two weekends I ran in the mountains of NC and GA while visiting in-laws. When you're gliding slowly on your own two feet versus whizzing by on a car, you're able to really take in the beautiful scenery.
  • I breathe better. Not every runner has to sprint and get out of breath while running. I take my time and take deep, controlled breaths, which does wonders for your health and mood.
  • It's easy to do. Get up, put shoes on (or go barefoot if you wish), and go. 
  • Muscle. Maybe I'll get killer muscles out of running. That's not why I'm doing it, but the thought inspires me to run even more.
  • It clears my mind. I'll admit that I usually watch TV when I work out on the treadmill (our condo's gym has cable which we don't have in our unit, so I can get my HGTV and Food Network fix). But for outdoor runs, my mind doesn't race like it does when I'm sitting still, and I'm able to pay attention to my body and how I'm feeling. It's also a good time for me to pray without so many distractions.
Recently, something else has made me even more motivated to run. My high school friend, Brad (you can find him at A Beer with Brad), recommended that I read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. I just finished reading it, and it made me want to go out and run 100 miles - seriously! I didn't, of course, but maybe one day... The book tells stories about ultra races, amazing runners and why humans are meant to be runners. It also shares techniques and has a good argument for barefoot running to avoid injury. While I haven't gone barefoot yet, I have changed my running style and my body feels great! I highly recommend this book, even if you aren't into running and don't plan to be. It's still inspiring to read about what we can accomplish if we stay positive and don't hold back.

Picture from

I won't be running marathons any time soon, but I'm hoping that if I run as much as I can, my headaches and migraines might reduce. Of course, running and other strenuous exercises can trigger headaches/migraines, so if you're going to try this with me, be careful and do it gradually. I'm alternating walking and running for now, and I'm doing a lot of daily stretches that my physical therapist taught me. If your health allows, I invite you to give running a chance. Happy running! :)