Running and migraines plus a fun Cub Scout night

Good morning! Before I get into today’s main post, I have to mention a really fun Cub Scout outing last night.

Si-Guy is the cutest.

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His pack got to tour one of our local radio stations, 96.1 KISS FM. J Will, the Program  Director and one of the DJ’s was really kind to take time out of his day to give the Cub Scouts a tour and even put them on the air! I think the parents loved the tour just as much and J Will was great at emphasizing how his job incorporates reading, math, and time management. Hit the books, kiddos! Super D was lucky and was able to go on this outing as well since Dan was working late.

Put to work!

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I have realized how running has coincided with so many of my big life experiences. For this post, I’m talking about how running has improved my stress management and personal medical benefits. I suffer from migraines. Not a “bad headache”, but full-blown, take your breath away migraines. I had my first migraine at 16 years old and I remember telling my dad that I felt like I was being stabbed in the head. I have a high tolerance for pain, but migraines are on a whole different level.

From the age of 16 until about 30, I had a migraine every two-three months. Dan was scared the first time he was around for a migraine, but over time, he learned to turn off all of the lights and leave me to deal with it on my own. He described it best when he told me that he had never seen anyone try to get out of their own skin….until he witnessed a migraine. I pace, I vomit, I whimper – this is my most vulnerable time and I hate it. I have seen neurologists, I have had two CAT scans and I am so lucky that my brain is healthy. I just suffer from migraines.

My doctors told me to find my “trigger”. Um…. I don’t know. I was never triggered by the common things like food, smells, etc. Finally I realized my trigger is the “let down of stress”. Dan helped me come to this realization after I was hit by a bad migraine the day after I came home from the hospital with Si-Guy, our second child. He arrived 2 weeks early, hours before Thanksgiving, we had a toddler at home and no family nearby. I do really well in high stress situations…I show up ready to get everything done. Once a highly stressful event is over, I get hit by a migraine.

Running helps me manage my stress. I always knew that it did, but it became evident this year. In January, I was out of commission from a migraine for FOUR days – this is referred to as a cluster migraine. I have never had this happen. My migraines are severe, but short in duration. Four days was awful. My kids were scared to see me in bed like that and Dan was the rock star that held everything together. After seeing a doc and confirming my brain is still healthy, I knew I had to get my stress under control. Running and exercise were very inconsistent the months leading up to the cluster migraines. Running was no longer “me” time, but a necessity. I was not going to make myself feel guilty for taking time to care for myself (totally self-imposed guilt). I am now 11 months from the worst migraine ever and I haven’t had another one. 11 months! I have never gone that long. My life didn’t suddenly turn into rainbows and unicorns. I am managing my stress. I do it through consistent running and exercise.

This post is lengthy, but I hope sharing information is helpful. Whether you have migraines, depression, anxiety – I do believe you can help yourself through physical activity, artistic expression, or alone time. Find what works for you and don’t feel guilty about caring for yourself. I also know there are times when all of these things may not work and that’s why I have medicine on hand to help me when needed.

PS – no running update today because the weather looked like this:

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I’m not that committed to cold weather running….yet.

How do you manage your stress?

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