Crying Uncle

“We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated.” – Maya Angelou

We all are happy to paint that perfect picture on social media. Happy runners, just logging the miles; no aches or pains right?

Not always.

I have been struggling since the South Berkeley 5k. I know I’ve hinted in posts I have been off, but I haven’t elaborated. This post has been weeks in the making; just waiting for the right time to share. What I’ve learned since I started blogging is someone out there may be dealing with a similar situation; so here I am, being real.

I think I was so focused on finishing the JFK 50 Miler and hitting the goal of 2,017 miles for the year, I ignored early warning signs something may be off.  Or maybe I was just in denial. Or maybe I just wanted to keep trying to look like Superwoman. Who knows. It’s true I dislike showing vulnerability; weakness. I also didn’t want to feel I was making excuses for my performance, so I didn’t talk about how I felt.

On December 3rd, I raced a great 5k and since then, I’ve felt flat. Whether I was in a training run or a race, I felt like I was working 3x as hard for a less than ideal result. I felt dizzy, winded, exhausted. My body continued to just break down it seemed. Did I overtrain? Ugh. I built in extra rest; no change. Running became more and more frustrating. I was nearly in tears after 3 of the SVR Winter Series; just feeling defeated. In at least two races, I almost started walking or quitting altogether. It’s difficult when something you love to do becomes stressful.

Then, my body really started freaking out – the little symptoms I could almost ignore – until the muscle cramps started. I’d be cruising along; feeling fairly good and then start feeling those little twinges in one calf or another until the entire calf completely locked up. Imagine one of those awful charley horse cramps in the middle of a run. I’d stop and stretch; but nothing would help. Being stubborn, I’d try to finish my run – which by the way, trying to run with a peg leg isn’t effective or attractive – but I was determined to keep pushing. The last long run of this training cycle was miserable. Calf cramp in mile 1 and then I almost passed out at breakfast after the run. What was happening?

With the new development of debilitating muscle cramps, I finally realized I needed to take a step back and figure this out. The list of symptoms was long: headaches, fatigue, anxiety, sleeping issues, etc. I scheduled appointments with my PCP and Obgyn. I was ready for answers, but what I wasn’t prepared for was more frustration. Even though I informed the doctors a resting heart rate of 75 and blood pressure of 138/89 was not normal for me; they assured me this was still within the acceptable range. I felt like screaming, NO – this is not normal for me. Tests were run for Lyme’s, anemia and thyroid and when all came back “normal”, it seemed the PCP and OBGYN were happy to close my case since no major alarms were set off. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. It didn’t seem to matter that I still didn’t feel right, because the tests said I was clinically fine.

So, I kept researching on my own. Talking to my athletic friends, reading books and articles, asking questions, visiting a physical therapist, chatting with a registered dietitian and analyzing results from blood work. Once I am focused on a topic, I’m all in, determined to find answers.

Two weeks ago, I feel an answer was discovered – low magnesium. Do you realize magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body? Wow. Also interesting, nearly 50% of people are not taking in enough magnesium.

I started supplementing daily. Guess what!? I haven’t had a single cramp since and nearly all of the other symptoms have abated. The two races since I started focusing on an adequate potassium and magnesium intake have been so different! I feel once my upcoming marathons are over, I will able to get back on track for a faster 5K. Now I feel like crying happy tears.

Why am I sharing this with you? If you feel doctors are not listening to you and you know you do not feel right; keep pushing. Don’t give up. Talk to others, don’t be silent; you never know who might have an answer. Be your own advocate.

For now, I’m still nervously optimistic I am on the right path. Thanks to those who listened to me whine, offered suggestions and support. As I’ve said before, it takes a village. We may have figured this out just in time – my spring race schedule is packed and I feel I am ready to fly!

4 thoughts on “Crying Uncle

  1. Thank you for posting this. I read but don’t always respond but love following your journey. I have recently started taking magnesium as well. I’ve had a string of running injuries and from mid-November until the end of January, my body just felt “off”. February was a little better but still weird. I really wish I’d discovered it earlier, but like you I spent so much time with doctors and trying to convince myself and others that something was wrong. It is frustrating that when numbers are in the normal range, doctors don’t always listen even if OUR normal as a runner is different.

    I’m far from 100%, but I’ve been taking magnesium for ~10 days and can already see a big difference. For one I sleep better, which helps recovery. My digestion is better. I’m not waking up in pain like I was. I also have the magnesium oil spray for muscle issues and that has helped too.

    In the end we are the owners of our bodies… I know doctors go to med school, but we know our bodies. It’s up to us to push for answers. Hope your recovery continues to go well.


  2. Thank you for posting. Since training for a marathon (that I didn’t get to run because of an injury) last summer, I have been to numerous doctors who still have not been able to pinpoint exactly what is causing the pain that won’t go away. I’m glad I’m not the only one this happens to! I am glad you are feeling better. Maybe I should take magnesium and see if there’s any difference in my running. 🙂 Good luck and hope you start feeling better.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s