Running and China
We just got back from an amazing few weeks in China! It was crazy cool to be on the exact opposite side of the globe visiting friends and family. We crashed a drink n' draw in Shanghai, saw ancient temples in Beijing, and traveled through 754 miles of countryside in between. Even better than that, we saw lots of family and picked up some new friends along the way. And before you even ask, yes, we went to a climbing gym in China- duh!
And yes, I brought my running gear! Though that didn't exactly go as planned...
You see, the sky in China is white. A grey-yellow white, at least while we were there. The cast feels like you are on another planet; perhaps at the edge of a storm or just before twilight.
The pollution cloud never lifted from where we were. It followed us around, looming in headlamps of cars at night and showing up as black snot in our noses. Not exactly the air you want to be huffing in on a run.
China was beautiful. The architecture, the trees, the people. But as I stood in ancient marble structures, I wondered how they would have popped against the blue skies of yesterday. Now their beauty is different, shifting and fading into the white cloud as it pressed down on us.
So, I heeded the advice to skip my runs. My whole time there, I only saw one person on a run, and it may have been to catch a bus. None the less, I didn't sweat it.
That means that this week, I'm back to square one! Sorting through photos of our trip and dreading the first snowy run of the year. But I'll bundle up and go out, thankful not just for my physical ability to run, but for the air around me.
Health Coach Update
I have been continuing my sessions with Tara, my new Health Coach. She has been helping me watch my nutrition and general holistic wellness this past month, and it has been a lot of fun. Besides learning more about my body, we've started to delve into more abstract forms of wellness. Let's dive in!
After our first session, I realized I was drinking even less water than I thought; about a glass a day. Ideally, I should be taking in 64 oz daily, but since Tara is all about small wins she had me focus on a minimum of 16 oz for the second week.
Focusing on achievable goals can make tasks more approachable, but even so I found it hard to make time to drink during my busy days. Luckily, I had a partner to hold me accountable. My Mom! During our regular morning phone calls, we each drank a large glass of water. This helped me start the day off right and encouraged me to continue hydrating into the afternoon.
In the end, I averaged about 50 oz a day, which was great! Of all the things we have done in our sessions, this had the biggest effect on my energy levels. The mental fog I had been feeling lifted and I felt more awake during the day. It's crazy how sometimes the smallest of changes can have the largest effects.
Spurred on by my small big-win, by our third session I was ready to try something new. Diary had always given me digestive issues, and it had been suggested to me by a doctor that it may be causing some of my ear infections. How would I feel dairy free? With Tara's guidance, I decided to give it a go.
It took me 3 solid weeks to cut out dairy. The first week, I wanted to cut out dairy but couldn't get myself to commit. I was stressed out, and falling back on old habits (comfort mac n' cheese anyone?).
But then, China happened! Traditional Chinese dishes are dairy free, and as such I essentially eliminated both dairy and gluten cold turkey. My ears cleared up for the first time in years, and my stomach felt great! It was pretty crazy! What a miracle, right?
...Or not. The day after we landed back in the US, my ears flared up. Even though I have continued to be dairy free, the itching in my ears continues to build. What gives? Was it gluten? Do I have a different food allergy? I thought I had finally gotten to the bottom of this!
Maybe it's stress Tara noted. I had been on this large vacation and now, back in NYC, a bunch on new and preexisting stressors had popped up.
And here is where holistic wellness seems to diverge from traditional western medicine. Instead of focusing on my body, we started to talk more about my mind. Specifically, how I am talking to myself and what reactions or thoughts are serving me and what is hindering me.
It's a whole new territory for me.
As a runner or climber, you probably already know your thoughts can effect your performances, but what effect do they have on our physical health? I'm not sure, but it's something I plan to explore in the next week or two. As my first running coach Lisa would say, PMA (positive mental attitude)!
It’s everyone’s personal responsibility to do as little harm to the planet as possible. We are all to blame for pollution, and I want to help. So, I want to know: what can I do to lower my carbon footprint? I am all ears.