Not being able to run sucks.
It just totally sucks. But the funny thing is, it’s not the simple “not running” part that’s getting to me.
Yes, running is a great activity. I love the way it makes me feel. I love the high I get at the end of a run and carry with me all day. I love feeling powerful and fit and strong. Even though my body is not perfect, when it carries me 16 miles easily and all before breakfast, it’s hard to begrudge it for what it is not.
Whatever the injury is I am dealing with, I don’t believe it is severe. Yet. It could easily become so if I don’t get the right diagnosis and treat it accordingly. I am likely looking at about a month without running if you count the last two weeks (2 runs in there somewhere) and what I assume will be 2+ more weeks off. It’s really nothing compared to any legitimately serious injury!
But yet I feel so horrible and I realize it’s not necessarily about running.
What upsets me isn’t necessarily that I can’t get in an easy six before work. I can stay active—the gym, walking, hiking when my knee/leg/whatever does not hurt, join CrossFit, find somewhere to swim.
It’s the weight of expectations that I seem to have placed on running, and the reality of not being able to live up to them.
Running for me started in Africa where it was an escape. When my mind was concentrating on running, it was easier to block out the stress and loneliness of living in a bamboo hut overseas.
I decided to run a marathon last year. It was the most empowering thing I have ever done. Every single weekend, a new personal distance record. Every weekend, another step towards doing something I never thought possible. And I’d never been happier.
That was kind of the theme of 2011 for me. Do what you can’t do. I never thought I’d run a marathon. I ran one and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Then I ran another one at SFM, undertrained but with the goal of having fun (a quad thing knocked me out for a few weeks—it’s likely the same nagging injury that I have yet to figure out). Then I ran a third at CIM without really training for it either. And a fourth in Maui that I didn’t train for either, walking and just having fun.
And you know what? I was okay with this. I was okay with running “just to finish” and not carrying about time or splits or sub-whatever or any of that other gunk. I just didn’t really care.
But then something made me start feeling like I’m supposed to care. I’m supposed to be faster. I’m supposed to win an AG award. Break X:XX in whatever race. Even though I’m not good at running, and used to be okay with it, I started not being okay with it.
Last year I phoned it in. The week after Hawaii was the week I was supposed to start training. Training. Not for anything big, just a goal half marathon, a trail marathon that would get me into Marathon Maniacs, and the Ogden marathon for which I declared 3:55 or bust, and pacing for SFM. I was ready for 40+ miles a week every week, a strict diet, speedwork every week, running up Twin Peaks for fun, dropping 10 pounds, and anything else that would finally qualify me as a runner in my own mind.
And then that same week I got hurt.
It’s probably not related to the chaos I’ve created for myself in my mind. But the timing is horribly coincidental. I’ve been dealing with running related injuries since I started running and always just squeezed through them on luck, and I’ve got a feeling that that is over. My luck has run out and it’s going to be a bit of a break.
And I’ve already seen my goal half marathon and the elusive Marathon Maniacs membership slip through my fingers (toes?). Hundreds of dollars and dreams of goal race glory are on the line. And I can’t really handle it.
I rarely feel relaxed these days. I feel so much pressure at work. I feel so much pressure in my relationships. In my hobbies. In my schedule. And running is supposed to be the release from all of that. And yet somehow, it’s become an equal source of pressure on me.
Maybe I need a break. I want to be running and I truly do love it, but my favorite runs are the casual ones with friends when you just chat and you don’t care if you are running eight or eighteen minute pace. The runs back in the day Before the Garmin where I wasn’t constantly berating myself for being fat and slow based on those numbers on the screen. Before I turned the thing that was supposed to free me of stress into a great stressor. Though I believe there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
I need to get back what running had always been about for me: Release. Peace. Love. Joy. Not mile splits of PRs or Marathon Maniacs or finally having a 3 in front of my time to feel more legitimate. I have an obsessive personality, and each of my hobbies I tend to go a little too far. I’ve hit that point, and my body is probably doing the only thing it can to protest: screaming ‘ENOUGH ALREADY!”
I’m going to do whatever I can to be able to run pain free. But once I can I’m going to try to remember why I fell in love with it in the first place.