Help me out, here – have I remembered correctly? If a football player gets hurt and can’t play in the next game, he’s put on the “Injured Reserve” list, right? And we refer to that as being “red-shirted?”

If I’ve remembered this wrong, then the only other instance I can think of for saying “He’s been red-shirted” is to be an innocent crew member drifting along on the Enterprise and suddenly being forced into a red shirt and sent to the planet surface to be killed by a lava monster or a psychopathic ESP teenager, to prove that the situation is grave for Kirk and Spock and all the other people most certainly not wearing red shirts.

But I think I’ve got it right; I think to say one is red-shirted means one has a sports injury.


I’m very excited by this. After 58 sedentary years, I have at last achieved that holy grail of fitness: a sports injury.

I have this wee little muscle below my left knee that is FURIOUS. If I bend that knee with any weight on it at all, I get a knitting needle run up under the kneecap. A knitting needle made of lightning.

This is very exciting for me because (a) I’ve never achieved a state of fitness good enough to actually have a sports injury and (b) I’m told by the PT not to run until she and Barbara give me the all-clear.


Someone ELSE is saying that? Like, out loud where witnesses could hear it?!


It’s Friday. I should run around the lake. That’s what I do on Fridays. 1.6 miles, alternating walk/run every tenth of a mile. It’s not so bad; I can endure it. BUT NO!! I’M NOT ALLOWED!

Granted, I am experiencing a certain grim pain going down a flight of stairs (I have to go up and down stairs like a toddler; both feet meeting on each step), and I have to do the exercises that Barbara and the PT gave me…

…and I don’t even have to ask Barbara if I’m supposed to be doing my home exercise program every single day now that I can’t run; I mean – duh. Obviously.

But I am totally buzzed by the fact that I’m not supposed to run.

Most athletes, I concede, are probably not this excited to be red-shirted… but I’m new to the “athlete” designation and I bring baggage with me! Time to go sit down!

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Trophic Cascade

August 21, 2018

Have you seen the insanely wonderful video about what happened to Yellowstone when the wolves were reintroduced? (This DOES refer back to fitness eventually; promise!)

If you haven’t watched it, take five bliss-filled minutes and enjoy the dazzle. It will be worth it. Here’s the link to “How Wolves Change Rivers.:

Did you watch? Isn’t that cool?

My point is – you can make a relatively small change in an environment (or in a body) and create a trophic cascade that ripples throughout the entire system.

That’s what running has done for me… unfortunately, it hasn’t brought foxes and eagles back to my house, nor has it changed the course of my rivers. (If that doesn’t make sense, then you didn’t watch the video, did you?? Mother always knows.) My results are … different.

First, running has activated my glutes. Unbeknownst to me, my butt muscles have been coasting for 58 years, coming along for the ride but not doing their part. (I use my quads and low back, instead, which is at least part of why exercise has never been much fun for me. Quads and low backs aren’t designed to create all that power; they get fussy and fatigued and need to be taken out to dinner and told they’re marvelous.)

But now my glutes are beginning to wake up. New sources of power are pulling my feet straighter; I no longer walk like a duck. I’m a tad less splay-footed. Not a LOT less – but my toes are beginning to face forward. Like, all the time.

That means that the two strap muscles that run down your leg (the IT band in the thigh and the whatever in the calf) are suddenly being asked to stretch longer. For the first time EVER. It’s making them grumpy. They refuse to be taken out to dinner and be told they’re marvelous; they’re just sitting there bitching. And who’s getting it in the neck, metaphorically speaking?

This wee little muscle that attaches the IT band to the hip bone – the TFL. (Can’t remember what any of these initials stand for, but they’re both gorgeous and sound like villains in an ancient Greek tragedy.)

The TFL is one place where the IT band can find a little give as it’s resisting the stretch. And when the TFL is being tormented, it sends a quick jolt of electricity to the front of the hip, causing the driver to emit a startled yip and a dip of the hip. Zip.

So I’m walking funny. Sometimes it’s kinda painful. Sometimes I make little EEP noises when I first stand up.

I don’t like it.

Gwynn the astonishing therapeutic masseuse worked on my right leg yesterday; she used her cupping suction cups and leaned her entire body into my thigh muscles. (Gwynn, a ballet dancer, doesn’t have much mass; I’m equal to at least two of her, so when she digs in hard, I feel like an oil tanker being towed by a tug boat… but like with the oil tanker, that tug boat knows where it’s going and it gets the job done!)

I’m still yipping, but now I know better WHY – and I can turn my toes out (feels weird now) when it gets really bad.

The second effect running has on me is that I get hungry.

Not like “Yeah, I could eat.”

I’m talking fishing around in the grocery bags because I can’t wait to get home before consuming something. ANYTHING.

All right – not the grocery bag. The bucket of chicken from KFC. Don’t judge.

The third effect? I can’t stay awake through an entire afternoon. If I manage to stumble through a mile with Barbara in the morning, I’ll be napping a few hours later, while clients call to no avail and deadlines go ticking past.

I’d apologize for making a poor decision, but napping isn’t my idea. Word comes down from the cerebral cortex – we’re going on strike now.  Get to a horizontal surface because the system shut-down is happening in five… four… three…

Finally, on the days when I run, my thighs take on the gravity of a black hole. They’re strangely heavy. When I walk up stairs, I have to lean forward and haul up with my hands on the bannister. I feel like I should be singing a work chanty to make it to the top. That’s the SOUND of the MEN working on the CHAIN… GANG…

My point is – my trophic cascade isn’t exactly what I was expecting. I thought I’d be slim-hipped and vibrant. (Keep your KFC commentary to yourself, there; like you’re so perfect?!) I thought I’d have more energy. I thought I’d be the kind of person to trot briskly because walking was just too slow.

Instead I yip, I gorge, I nap, and I crawl up the stairs. Where is my re-drawn river system?!?

(Look – you know and I know that during ALL of this, my heart is beating more healthfully. My arteries are more open and smooth because good cholesterol is making its first-ever appearance on stage. My lungs are pink and healthy. My brain is more highly oxygenated. There are a million reasons to keep running; a million reasons to be proud I’m still working at my cardio fitness. But it’s so much easier to bitch!)

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Now – go watch the wolf video. You can spare the five minutes, and it’s SO DAMNED COOL. 


Ninety-Eight Percent

August 18, 2018

I’m still running.

Rather, I should say I’m still jogging; “running” is too fleet a word for what I’m doing. BUT I note with pride that I no longer thud quite so heavily; I don’t THINK impact tremors are alerting seismologists around the world to a possible tectonic shift, so that’s good.

I run on Tuesdays with Barbara, as the opening to our hour-long fitness training. We jog around a mile-long loop; I walk in three carefully-chosen areas (up the stairs in the park and to the next corner; across the footbridge before the other park; and around the elbow of road before The Hill and subsequent hairball-like feeling of I Hope I Drop Dead Before I Have To Make It To The Top). As previously reported, I’m not much of a fan of the running, but I LOVE being FINISHED with running.

And I’m supposed to run on my own on Fridays. If the weather is too swampy, I can run stairs instead, but on days when the air actually includes oxygen, I jog around a small lake (or is it a big pond?) at a housing development near my home. They’ve marked off the 1.5 mile path in tenth-of-a-mile increments, so you can watch for the next line across the path with a hollow-eyed desperation. Makes it fun!

I told Barbara I was going to try something new – switch my gait with every line on the path. Thus, jog a tenth of a mile, walk a tenth of a mile – repeat until end. Now that Barbara has me recording my runs on an app, I can see how long it takes me to run a mile (use a calendar, not a watch, children), and I was wondering if short intervals would increase my overall time.

Barbara instinctively said “a tenth of a mile isn’t long enough,” but then remembered to whom she was speaking. “Yes – that’s a good idea. Try that.”

For two weeks, she’s been asking me if I’ve tried it; for two weeks I’ve been defeated by Virginia in August and ran stairs instead. And yesterday (Friday) I simply ground to a halt and did NO exercises…

…but this morning, I happened to wake up at about 3:45 in the morning. This is becoming standard for me; I think by that time I’m sleeping so lightly that when the cable box recycles, it wakes me up. I stay up for a few hours, killing time with my iPad until I’m drowsy, and then I go back to sleep.

But this morning… ah, this morning. At about 6:15, I thought – I can either try rolling over again and spin my brain uselessly in the mental mud about all the things I need to do today (which will just result in me sitting up again and playing yet another game of solitaire)… or I could haul it out of bed, put on the cute Black Watch plaid running skirt and my sneaks, and make it out to the jogging path by just a little after sunrise.

This was a valuable idea because I’d be running when it was only 71 degrees, instead of waiting until later, when it went up to 88 or 90.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

The humidity of the pearly part of the morning is FAR more relevant to running comfort than the actual temperature… and when I jog/walked my 1.6 miles? (Added the walk to and from the car to the 1.5 mile loop)


Seriously: How can the air have a 98% humidity rating and it not be actually raining??!

That nice “soft” air I was breathing when I started out turned out to have the consistency of oatmeal. I was a-tremble by halfway through my run. AND YET SHE PERSISTED. I made it back to the car, where I collapsed in a spineless puddle. And STILL my run was about thirty seconds faster per mile than it was when I ran 1.1 miles and walked .4 miles. So – victory. Sweaty, gasping victory!


This is a photo of me after I drove home and toweled off; I was SO SWEATY and overheated that all this “dew” appeared after the initial scrub. In fact, although I stood in the shower with cold water pouring over my face for a long time, I discovered my face was still sweating half an hour later. This may be the only protest available to sweat glands. I hear you, guys. I’ll watch the humidity next time. Live and learn!



I’ve had TWO dreams lately in which running was bliss.

In the first, the running quickly turned into flying – the BEST kind of dream. As soon as I wake up, I recognize the flying as actually being swimming, but without any water, including me pushing off walls and parked cars, etc. as if they were the side of a swimming pool, and then I “fly” even faster, breast-stroking madly, until I drift to a stop and have to push off something else.


In the second, I was running – happily – along a mountain path at night. No, I don’t know why; it was a dream – hold all your questions until transactional analysis. I realized I’d gotten off the path. With a dream-like déjà vu, I knew that if I continued, I’d be attempting to move along the side of a cliff, so I backtracked wisely until I found a road.

The road led me to a town, where rednecks menaced me. When I turned for help to the toothless tavern owner, she grinned at me and locked the door behind me. The man with no feet leered, and the original thug in the baseball cap appeared at the back door. I thought, “Man, are these guys going to be surprised when my super powers kick in.”

Wait. What was my point again?

Oh, yeah. I dreamed – TWICE – that I was really enjoying running.

Like – I was feeling the delicious cross-body stretch from up-elbow across to up-knee, from forward shoulder to forward hip, and my breathing was easy and deep, and my shoulders were down and back, and I felt like I could run forever.

Despite what those dreams evolved into, don’t you think this is a positive, hopeful sign for my future as a runner?? One day I could run as effortlessly, as fluidly, as easily as Barbara?

(New reader? Barbara is my fitness trainer at Body Dynamics in Falls Church, Virginia. She’s a gifted trainer and a contagious runner, in that she makes you want to run, too. Like an infection. Like the plague. You’re GONNA catch it, poor bastard.)

As previously noted, I’ve spent 58 years arranging my life so I do NOT have to run. To discover, at this advanced age, that MAYBE it’s not QUITE as horrible as I previously thought? That’s – well, it’s dreamy.

I can’t consciously envision myself as being fleet-footed – ever. But I can in my dreams. So it must be in the outer bounds of possible. (Still waiting for the super powers to kick in.)


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