Thursday, July 26, 2012

Numbers, Needles, and Nay-sayers

Yesterday as I was finishing up my run, Josh drove by to check on me. He only does this on the very rare occasion that I give him the head's up that something may be hurting me and I might not finish the workout/run (which I had not), or if I am way later getting home than I predicted (which I was not).  I was only half a mile from home when he drove by. He gave me a questioning thumbs up and I responded with my own questioning thumbs up, and then he flipped the minivan around and went back home.

I wondered what the deal was, hoped nothing was wrong with the kids (although assumed if it was something serious he would have stopped) and pulled myself up the last half mile of hill to my house. It was just before 8:00am, it was my second consecutive day of speedwork, and I had just finished 10 miles, with 6x1 mile repeats on the road (6:25, 6:22, 6:31, 6:35, 6:20, 6:22). I was hot, sweaty, and tired.

I walked into the driveway and Josh was there, still sitting in the minivan, and told me that I needed to get in because we had to go in to his office so I could get a mandatory healthy screening for our health insurance. He had already gone and had his done, and the nurses (or techs?) who were part of this traveling health screening service were in a rush to get on the road to their next job. I was the one holding things up.

So without time to stretch, or to even mop the sweat off of my forehead, I got into the minivan and we drove the three miles in to Josh's office.

I filled out a bubble sheet and then had my blood pressure, pulse, weight, height, BMI, and body fat percentage all taken and recorded. I am not one to obsess over numbers, but I was really happy to see that although my weight has stayed about the same since we did this last year (131) that my body fat percentage was down by a percent to 18.4%. I have worked hard on my core/strength training to be as lean as possible (and am still working on it!) so this was encouraging. The nurse (? tech?) pointed out that this was 2.6% below the normal range for a woman my age, but for a runner it is not low at all.

After all the bubbling-filling and testing, I headed over to the other nurse (? tech?) and had my blood drawn. Now, I have had my blood drawn several times in the last few months and it is not big deal to me. I am the easiest person to draw blood from ever. Well this nurse (? tech?) went at me like she was trying to stab a ballpoint pen through a rubber fire hose. YEEEEEEOUCH.  Evidence -
This was just a couple of hours later. It should be really impressive in a day or two.
THEN, to add insult to injury, after having perfect results on every test (blood pressure was 102/65, pulse was 50, even shortly after a run and being rushed around) and after being attacked with a needle, the nurse (? tech?) then told me that "running marathons is bad for you".

Seriously?

She did not have an article or random study to quote. She wasn't professing the dreaded "it will ruin your knees". She said it was just a "gut instinct she had". Ok. Then there was a comment or two about our number of kids and I was done playing nice and ready to go home for breakfast.

I probably should have said that being 80lbs overweight, eating mostly junk and being completely inactive was bad for my body (and spirit!). I have had no serious injuries since I started running, I have never been healthier or happier, and there is tons of evidence that running keeps the body (knees included!) and mind healthy. 

I am about as un-judgmental as it gets in regards to most things, but I can't help but notice that the people who like to point out how "bad" running is for you often seem to be people living unhealthy lifestyles (and are often overweight). 

I don't care too much about what most people think anymore, but it just seemed ridiculous to have such a good health screening only to be told that running marathons was bad for me.

In regards to "the numbers" - I take my resting heart rate every morning for Coach Rick and have found that to be a useful tool in seeing how my body is handling my training. When I was losing weight and first working at keeping it off, I was afraid I would regain the lost weight and I got a little obsessed with the scale. If my weight was "down" I was happy and felt good about myself, if my weight was "up" I was bummed and felt bad about myself. I also used to let the very low weights of some runners make me feel "less good" (why do we compare ourselves to others when we know it is not good to do?)  Now I am used to the little fluctuations in my weight and don't stress them. And while I know that to be as fast as possible a low weight is desirable for runners, being healthy, strong, lean, confident, and fast is what matters the most to me.

 Have you ever had a medical professional tell you running was bad for you? Ever been attacked with a needle? :) How much attention do you pay to "the numbers" (scale, pulse, blood pressure, BMI, body fat, etc.)?  More soon!

31 comments:

Valorie D said...

I am a moer "sturdy" runner. For my first marathon all I wanted to do was finish injury free. I have accomplished that and now have become obsessed with the scale. I'm actually participating in other sports/exercise to try convince my body that it is now okay to release some of this fat. Luckily I am healthy on paper, but I do want to increase my speed and I know this weight has go to go. I still haven't quite found the right combo, I will though; I'm tenacious!

mountainkait.com said...

My doctor gave me a schpiel similar just a few days ago because my thyroid results have been normal, but my symptoms are still there. She thinks it is exercise related, but I am not exercising any more than I usually do. In fact, my training is minimal compared to recent months. My Mom gets on my case a lot too and says that as a nurse she thinks the amount I run and bike is too much. Some people just don't get this lifestyle. It is very frustrating.

Mark Matthews said...

I can't help but laugh. So far, the only people I have heard that 'running is bad for me' are either smokers or obese. No joke. Not to mention a smoker who warned me about all the marathoning heart attacks she had heard about.

My PCP is great, and I found out she was a marathoner herself when she came into the exam room with her boot in a cast. Yes, she had a stress fracture from marathoning, and no, this does not mean that it was bad for her, but it does mean that she's been an excellent consultant for all things marathoning.

I think there's a bit of trying to bring you down when someone says marathoning is bad for you.

Amy Lauren said...

This is why I try to go to doctors who are into running themselves, treat other athletes and runners, or at least into sports and activity themselves. It's not the nurse's place to tell you running marathons is bad for you, especially since it was some travelling nurse and not your actual doctor telling you not to run due to an injury or health condition (which is understandable). And that's just crazy you got randomly poked at after running 10 miles!

Great job knocking out those fast repeats too!

Beth @ Miles and Trials said...

That is so frustrating and disappointing for a health care provider to say that to you. My favorite comeback lately to people who say "running is bad for your knees" is I ask them how many marathoners they know that have had knee replacements. That usually shuts them up, because I know several people that have had knee replacements and most of them are out of shape and don't take care of themselves.

I track my heart rate during my runs, I need to start tracking my resting heart rate. Today on my run it was about 10 beats higher than normal at the same level of exertion, and I am battling a cold, so it's an interesting thing to see the difference in heart rate.

Ginger said...

That is ridiculous! I'd let your numbers speak for themselves! When your BMP, blood glucose, and cholesterol lab results come back you can celebrate those numbers in addition to your healthy BMI, pulse and blood pressure! Some people have nerve. Your speed work is impressive! I'm secretly taking notes so that after this pregnancy I can learn from some of your training techniques although I know I'm still a long way away from my pre-pregnancy 9 minute miles...

Once A Runner said...

Wow after that check up she seriously said that to you?????? Unbelievable! Amazing how bad running is seen.. ignorance.

Jen@runfortheboys said...

I confess that the numbers matter to me right now. Every day I weigh and if I'm up it is a guaranteed bad mood all day. I know in my head that It is stupid and I know I am more than a number on the scale but that is my hang up for now :-)

And ooooh I am irritated on your behalf at the tech person. If she was overweight, I think I would have (I am mean!) said, "well, being overweight and sedentary didn't seem to give me these numbers and running does, so I just do what works for me!"

Adrienne said...

I pretty much get treated like some strange sort of space creature when I go to the GP. It's almost like a little game of "what will they say next". My favorite, "do you think you run too much?" haha

Emz said...

Every state needs a doctor who's a marathoner. He'd make a killing from all the runners. ;) such a joke what's considered healthy/unhealthy to some.
grab the chips - sit on sofa [fine]
run 15 - eat healthy [eating disorder]

makes. me. freaking. nuts.

Laura @ Mommy run fast said...

Your numbers are the perfect picture of health, how can what you're doing possibly be bad for you? Sigh. I do think that marathons may not be for everyone but there is no reason to criticize them when it's clearly a good fit for you and your body! Congrats on the improving numbers, too- so nice to see that hard work pay off! I have no idea what my body fat % would be but I don't think it's that good. :)

Christy @ My Dirt Road Anthem: A Runner's Blog said...

I work with orthopedic surgeons and I hear it all the time! Whatever!

I try not to obsess over weight, I step on my scale every once in a while but mostly keep it hid and try to go more by how my clothes feel. I haven't had my body fat done in a long time but last time I did it was really low, I would be curious to see what it is now.

I would worry about what they said. I think running marathons are good for you mind, body and soul :)

Jill said...

Ugh. Some people! I think it's more out of envy that these people say these things sometimes. I'd have asked point-blank where her references were and back the contrary up with your own. I was at the dr. the other day - a new one - and told her that I'm a runner and have been for over 35 years and have probably raced in over 400 races in my lifetime. She said, "Yeah? So you just run through the knee pain?" I told her I had no knee pain. She told me people don't run that long without knee pain. I told her I was living proof. So annoying.

Gracie said...

Rude people! I'm one of nine kids and my family got snide comments all the time. I remember being eight and someone exclaimed to me, "Six kids!" (Which it was at the time). "Doesn't your mom know what causes that?!" ...which left me a little confused. I was like, "What causes what?!" Ha.
It always amazes me when phlebotimists mess up a blood draw. I mean, it's what they do for a living!

Raina said...

I still can't imagine what she was thinking telling you that :) . No doubt you are in MUCH better health, physically and mentally than before you were distance training.

I always enjoy reading about how you check your heart rate. It is one of those things I do daily too. It is amazing how much it can tell.

Katie @ msfitrunner said...

Keep doing what you're doing - its working!!!:) those mile repeats are amazing, and for day 2 of speed - WOW!!! You work hard and it pays off:)
It irks me when strangers feel the need to say something about my physical activity or fitness, but I try to brush it off and I feel more badly for them that they are so unhealthy!

Canuck Mom said...

I am sorry about all of that. As a nurse myself I tend to keep my opinions to myself and if I had seen how healthy you were I would have told you BRAVO!! Also let me just say I have never left a mark like that on a patient. I love starting IV's and drawing blood. That nurse was a vampire. LOL!!

Nancy B said...

I moved the scale out of the bathroom, that helped with my daily weighing habit. Both my primary doc and my podiatrist are runners, so luckily they "get" it. I usually find the people that think it's weird to run are the people with the most unhealthy habits!

Vicky Cook said...

ha! This is kind of funny. What you have to realize is you/we ARE freaks, running freaks! We are NOT normal, this is not typical behavior and as with all weirdos/freaks/odd balls, we go through life with a smile on our faces like we know something they don't! And we do, we know running is WONDERFUL, shhhhhh don't tell everyone, then they'll all want to do it :D
My mum looks at people who exercise and is quite happy to announce how stupid they are, often referring to these strange creatures as 'idiots'. Yes she's over weight, yes she has been an on/off dieter for the entirely of her life.
Keep up the good work.....freak ;)

Vicky Cook said...

*entirety*

Jerilee E. said...

I don't usually comment, but I had to mention that my Endocrinologist always tells me how running causes bone loss. Seriously- at EVERY appointment. Even after I had a bone scan showing that my bone density was perfect.

Amy said...

Oh geez. That nurse needs a solid lesson in MYOB. She should have kept her mouth shut. And she's just lucky that you were polite enough not to respond putting her in her place. Luckily for me my doctors are all behind my running -triathlon habit or if they aren't they don't tell me about it.

{lifeasa}RunningMom said...

Blood draws are torture for me! My veins never want to cooperate so I feel your pain.

The scale is my enemy and I know what you mean about the connection between weight and happiness. Why do we do this to ourselves?

I tried to take my resting heart weight but flopped so early each day but perhaps should give it another go. IT is a good tool.

misszippy said...

That's a great story, really! Crazy, crazy, crazy.

I really don't own a scale and don't pay attention to my weight number. My clothe and the mirror tell me all I need to know. I do, however, care about my resting rate, BP, cholesterol, etc., which are always stellar. Amazing, though, given the bad hobby I have! ; )

www.fueledbyspite.com said...

First time commenting, I just wrote something about weigt on my blog as well. And yes it cracks me up the folks that think running us bad for you. I mean if we want to talk bad habits well then....
Nice training too, I can't believe how far you have come! A motivation for me to continue my horrendous hobby.

Anonymous said...

What a crazy comment! I ran my first half marathon when I was 3 months pregnant with my first daughter (wouldn't have planned it that way, but I was already registered, so I figured I'd run/jog as long as I felt good). I'm sure my OB thought I was nuts but fortunately didn't get on my case too much about it. For the most part, running and other exercise got me through two pregnancies happier and healthier than I otherwise would have been! To say that running is bad for you just because of certain risks is crazy -- on balance, it is great for your health, as you are proof of. Maybe you should have asked the nurse if her numbers are as good as yours! You could even excuse her from running 10 miles before taking the measurements :) Oh well, as you've posted before, ignore the naysayers -- sadly, when you are 80 or 90 and still out there enjoying life while they can't get out a chair without help, they will realize how "bad" running is for you.

Loren said...

I got talked into donating plasma the last time I donated blood- and I nearly passed out. Not.fun. I haven't donated blood since. I check my weight daily (it's my goal to lose some this year) and my RHR.

lindsay said...

nurses NEVER have a problem drawing blood from me. then i had one who said my vein was rolling over. it never looked as bad as yours (yikes!) but she poked me a number of times before getting another nurse to do it. and of course, blamed me.

that is breaking news about marathons. guess i should quit and sit on the couch and eat ice cream instead!!!! will that be healthier?? ugh, so annoying when people get on their soapbox and have nothing to back it up.

Anonymous said...

I am not a runner but I think I will die laughing at that nurse's comment. Honestly, what is she thinking. You could've said, in a sarcastic tone "yah, I know with my vitals and running like I do it is surprising I am not dead already." sheesh! And as for kids, they keep you young and healthy too!

Terzah said...

I've had some of that since this back thing flared up (it actually dates to my pregnancy, and has nothing to do with running, something several *informed* doctors, PTs etc. have assured me). After my MRI last week, my uncle, a retired orthopedic surgeon, told me, "Well, I think it's time for you to stop running and find something else." Ha! When I was at my mom's in Missouri over the weekend, I told one of my aunts about this conversation. She said, "He told me the same thing years ago after I broke my hip. So I walked for a while. And then I started running again. Just ignore him." So I will! :^)

Christina Williams said...

This isn't running related but health care worker giving "off advice" related. When I had my daughter, I breastfed her and planned to do so for at least one solid year (I made it to 18 months!). At one of our baby checkups, the nurse said she was too low in weight and I should give her formula, not breastmilk. I asked what the weight was and she was something like 8th percentile, so not under the mark at all! I told her that I believed my daughter is genetically lean based on ME and our family structure and seriously, a nurse advising NOT to breastfeed? I don't mean this to be a post on the whole breast vs bottle wars, just that I found it very disheartening to have a health care worker advise against something that we all pretty much understand and the medical community understands as a good thing. Since then the pediatrician overruled that nurse and I asked for a change in nurse and the next one was totally aghast at what the previous one had said to me! My husband also has noted many of the nurses are overweight at his VA hospital and like to give him the spiel about body weight and how to control weight and he flat out says, look, I run every other day, please don't advise me on weight management until you do the same. Frustrating sometimes with the health care workers!