Six months ago I thought I might be a candidate for a hip replacement. No kidding. It sounds like a joke, but my right hip was stiff and ached and throbbed almost all of the time. Getting out of bed in the morning took effort and trips of more than fifteen minutes in the car meant that I looked at least eighty years old climbing out.
In September my good friend Brandi and I resolved to run together. I explained to her my lack of ability, but she claimed that she hadn’t been running much either. So the first time out we started talking. I told her about my perceived need for a hip replacement.
“Does it hurt down the side of your leg to you knee?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said, “it does.”
“It’s your IT band,” she said. “You need to get a foam roller and roll on it. It hurts but it will help.”
We ran that day, and then I drove straight to Sports Authority for something I had never laid eyes on or heard of an hour before. I bought the foam roller and started rolling myself silly. To say that it hurt is a drastic understatement. It was very painful. However, the difference it made was astounding. It is as if I’ve had my hip replaced. I do not have that stiffness at all anymore. I am stunned that foam rolling and running (something I have abhorred my entire life) could be curative for this prematurely aged hip, but that’s the fact. Somehow schedules have conspired against us, and Brandi and I have run together only one other time. But I am so grateful that she encouraged me with her IT band wisdom. You might be tempted to wonder why my running, disciplined, M.D. husband never pointed me in this direction. I guess he’d never heard of the foam roller either, and I should admit that I long ignored his faithful entreaties to stretch.
Since that first outing with Brandi I’ve been pretty faithful about running a few times a week and using the foam roller when I sense that tightness creeping back. And now, as I mentioned the other day, I got a gym membership for Christmas. This will allow me to swim, work out with weights, and do classes. So far I’ve done three different classes. In each class I’ve had women 20-30 years older than me kick my butt. I am in awe of the fitness of these women. It’s definitely proof that age is no excuse.
So I don’t know if you run, but I think you should. It’s a horrible thing to start doing if you’ve never really done it like me. It’s jarring and uncomfortable, but it’s also mental. You can do it. You can run a few minutes and build up. I’ve used the Couch to 5K app, and I’ve set distance and time goals on my own. The first mile is always the worst — every time I go out, the first mile is the longest. I’m still only running three miles at a time, and I do not have goals to run any crazy distances. But I am feeling healthier and stronger. I haven’t dropped a lot of weight, or any really, but that post-run satisfaction is motivation enough to keep going.
Plus research shows that your brain works better when you exercise. I’m currently reading a fascinating book called Spark by John Ratey. Ratey provides ample evidence that “aerobic exercise physically remodels our brains for peak performance.” If this was the sole reason to work out I think it’s more than sufficient, don’t you?
So for all my friends who are physically fit, please know that I admire you greatly and so appreciate your inspiration and encouragement. And for those friends who are not quite so fit, I know you can do it. How do I know? Because six months ago I was a nonrunner in need of a hip replacement.
The father of lies would have you believe that you cannot do it, but Paul says, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13 NASB).
I certainly haven’t arrived in terms of being skinny or fit, but it feels great to be on the path, and I sure would love it if you’d join me.