Saturday, July 13, 2013

WJMC

Wow. WJMC was absolutely amazing. I met so many fantastic people, saw so many unforgettable things, and had so much fun in general.
I don't know if this is true at other schools, but at my school, everyone wants to be a doctor or an engineer. There's a few people that want to be teachers. But very, very few want to pursue a career in journalism. I cannot begin to tell you how great it was to be around 240 other people who love and care about the same things that I do. I am now happy to say that I have friends--and, more than likely, future colleagues--from all over the country, and I feel confident that each and every one of them will go on to do very impressive things.
On a less sentimental note, I had a chance to meet with my House Representative's communications director, which was very cool. I even got to share my idea for a bill, so it was pretty much the greatest meeting ever. Not sure if anything will come of it, but I love the idea that I could be a part of changing some part of the political world. As one of our speakers, Kevin McCarthy, would say, I was crying some serious nerd tears.
I honestly don't want this week to end. I thought it would just be something that would look good on college applications and teach me something about journalism, but it ended up being so much more than that. To anyone considering attending in the future, I cannot recommend it enough. It will change your life. I am so grateful to the people at George Mason University for giving me this opportunity. I laughed, I cried, and, most importantly, I rapped to Lil John with Hoda Kotb.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

An Addition to That Last Post

Apparently the space from the Tab key does not actually show up once I publish a post. I feel betrayed. Your move, Blogger. Actually, wait. That was your move. So it's my move. Or is this my move? That would make sense. So it IS your move, Blogger. This is not over. I will be avenged for this lack of tidy paragraphs.

The Wonderful World of Journalism

Well, would you look at that. Blogger is finally letting me use the tab key. How exciting. In fact, if you found that last discovery half as delightful as I did, you are going to throw up with joy when you read this next sentence. For my birthday (which was last Monday), I got an iPad keyboard! If you've read the About page, you know what a big deal this is. I can finally type like a normal human being! The callus on my left index finger from trying to type the letter "M" can finally heal! And most importantly, I am no longer a victim of my grumpy old laptop!* HOORAY!
Anyway. I'm pretty sure I haven't mentioned this before, but from now until Friday afternoon, I will be at the Washington Journalism and Media Conference at George Mason University. It's in D.C. and I live in Ohio. How was my journey here? I'm glad you asked. Really, it was very polite. thanks for that. You're a gem. I flew here (on a plane, not like with my arms...thought it might be necessary to clarify). As a side note (because I NEVER use those), Southwest is my new favorite airline purely because they give you both peanuts AND pretzels. Like what am I, the Queen of England or something? No, I am not; but it's hard to tell who is, as we discussed months ago. But I digress...from my digression. To sum that mess up, FOOD=ELLEN'S ETERNAL LOVE.
An entire lacrosse team was on my plane. I know they were a lacrosse team because they scattered themselves in such a way that required them to shout to one another about pretty much every detail of every play they've ever done. So what should have been a relatively peaceful hour-long flight turned into a lesson in "so much lax talk, bro" (unfortunately, that is a direct quote).
We're supposed to blog while we're here, so hopefully over the course of the week I will be able to update you lovely people on my adventures or things that I find amusing. So keep it classy until then, I guess.

*Except while printing/using anything in Microsoft Office

Friday, July 5, 2013

A Perfectionist's Guide to Running: Knowing When to Stop

NOTE: if you don't run, you probably aren't interested in reading this. You're probably saying, "Hey, Ellen, I come hear to read rants about goats. What's all this running stuff? I feel betrayed!" Well, not to worry, my hypothetical friend! At the end of this post is some of my usual nonsense! HOORAY! So you can stop crying and skip on down to the last paragraph. I mean, you could read the whole post, which is the polite thing to do, but I don't want to bore you with things you don't care about. You should probably at least read the whole last paragraph, though, even though it starts off about running. You know, for context and stuff. Anyway, proceed as you wish.

Right before my sophomore year track season, my lower calves started hurting. I told myself to suck it up. A few weeks later, it turned into shooting pain with every step. I convinced myself it was just soreness from hard workouts. It was only when I finished a warmup lap with my legs shaking--it looked like they were having some kind of seizure--that I asked my coach if that could be a problem.
Obviously, she said yes. So I went inside to the training room and had them look at it. Then a doctor had to look at it. He told me he wasn't sure, but if I had what he thought I had (compartment syndrome), I would probably need surgery.
Next, I went to a sports medicine doctor. Thankfully, he told me it wasn't quite to the point where I needed surgery, but I did have a bilateral calf strain, meaning I had pushed my calf muscles in both legs far past the healthy point.
I only ran in two meets that season. I was only allowed to complete half the practices, and I had to take an ice bath after practice every day (which, for some reason, feels ten times worse when it's to keep your injury from getting worse rather than to get you ready to compete). I also had to go to physical therapy several times a week.
Moral of the story: listen to your body when it tells you to stop. If I had gotten my calves checked out right when they started hurting, I probably could have gotten away with just the ice baths and some extra stretching. But I thought I could push through it and ended up turning a small problem into one that basically made me lose a whole season. As a perfectionist, I used to think injuries were a sign of weakness and that taking time off to fix them would do more harm to my overall fitness than good. Not so much. Every runner gets injured at some point, but the impact that injury has depends on how responsive they are.
I'm not by any means telling you that you should rush to a doctor as soon as you feel a little sore. Soreness and pain are two very different things. If you're pushing yourself, you should feel a little sore sometimes. That's good. That means you're working hard and getting stronger. My point is that you have to know your body. Your body will tell you when something is wrong. It might not be quite as obvious as my shooting pains and shaking, but there is definitely a difference between being sore and being injured. My advice, if you can't tell if you're injured or just really sore, would be to ask someone--a doctor, coach, trainer, or a more experienced runner--if they think there's a problem. If there is, then not only have you caught the injury early enough that it probably isn't very serious, you also have a reference to know when to stop if you feel that same type of pain in the future. If there's not, then you know you probably don't have to stop if you feel the same pain in the future. It's a win-win situation. Of course, if you don't ask, you're taking a gamble that could jeopardize your running career permanently. There's always a reason for pain. I think of it as your body's way of calling for help. The longer you ignore it, the louder it will yell and the more distracted and frustrated you will get, so acknowledge it early on. If you were a firefighter and you heard someone calling for help from the top of a burning building, would you leave them up there until the last second so you could maybe save them? Of course not. You would get them out of there as soon as possible before the fire spreads any more. Injuries work the same way. That metaphor makes perfect sense to me. If it doesn't to you, sorry. I only do one metaphor at a time. Go make up your own. Oh, you don't need a metaphor, huh? Well, aren't you just a special little cupcake with awesome frosting and superior sprinkles. Some of us are just humble muffins who like metaphors. If you don't, you're not allowed in the secret club. I don't CARE if you don't want to be in the secret club; the point is that you can't. Plus you don't even know the secret handshake. You're a cupcake and you don't even have hands...what? Well, no, we muffins don't have hands either, but that's not really the point right now. Actually, if you're a cupcake, why are you reading a post about running? That just seems silly. You're silly. No silly cupcakes in the secret muffin club.

Friday, June 14, 2013

A Perfectionist's Guide to Running: Remember Why You Run

If you know me, you know that I love to run (if you don't know me...I love to run) and have done track and cross country since middle school. You also know that I beat myself up about it all the time. I have cried, I have pushed myself to some pretty painful injuries, and I have ignored those injuries for dangerously long periods of time because, as a decidedly mid-pack runner, it was driving me crazy that I couldn't be the best. Although I still am far from an easygoing, stress-free runner, I have gotten a lot better thanks to other people's advice and lessons I've had to learn on my own. This series of posts is going to consist of everything I wish I would have known when I first started running as well as some things that have helped me loosen up along the way.

First, it's extremely important to remember why you started running in the first place. Actually, I take that back. It's important to remember why you KEPT running. Maybe you went for your first run to lose weight, or maybe you had to run a mile for gym. You probably returned home sweaty, achy, exhausted and deliriously happy. At least that's the way it was for me. I was a super stressed-out kid, and I was absolutely miserable, but running got me away from all of that. For some people, I know the attraction is not quite so instantaneous. You might wonder why anyone could ever do that for fun. I think in some form or another, what makes every runner head out the door again is that euphoric feeling of a run, where you feel all peaceful and calm and satisfied. That moment is a little different for everyone: it could be the first time you run, or it could be in the middle of your fifth race. If you are just starting to run regularly and haven't felt this yet, don't give up. It will come eventually, and it is totally worth it. That feeling is what makes running so addictive; it's like a drug. You feel really great when you do it and it eventually consumes all your time and money (just kidding...kind of).

Anyway, my point is that you shouldn't lose sight of why you first loved running. I always get caught up in the competition of a season, and at some point I start to run not because I want to, but because I feel I have to. To get back to that primal joy of running, I always make myself take a break at the end of every season. But that break doesn't follow any training plan. My rule is that I don't let myself go for a run until that little voice in the back of my head telling me I have to run so I don't get out of shape is totally gone. I lace up my shoes again when I want to go on a run because it's FUN. Think of how happy you were running around as a little kid. You weren't doing it to strengthen your heart or bones or fit into some old pants; you were doing it because you were playing and running was part of the fun. That's all running is, really: playing outside for grown-ups. So shut up about your split times and go play.