|Decidedly NOT running.|
So here's why I'm such a mess: on December 31st, my right knee started hurting when I went up and down stairs. Thinking it was just some arbitrary tightness left over from my snowy run that weekend, I foam rolled and went running the next day . . . and came back hobbled. Ever since then, my sneakers have been gathering dust, and the only running I've been doing is running up a credit bill for physical therapy visits.
Anyone who knows me knows how much I love running, and the longer I go without it, the clearer it becomes that I have woven this sport into the fabric of my life. Without it, I no longer have a weekly schedule (because my runs dictated that); I no longer have a daily social life (because seeing my friends on runs pretty much was my social life); and I no longer have any desire to look at social media (because if I see one more person post their weekly mileage or daily workout paces, I actually have a psychotic episode).
Now, I must acknowledge that R___ is perfectly sympathetic about all of this. Just because he's zen about life doesn't mean he expects me to be. The problem is that I expect myself to chill out and take this in stride. Practically every runner I know has been injured in some way, at some point. And despite how important it is to me, running is not my whole life. I have a partner who love me whether I run or not. I have a business that is independent of the sport. I have friends who barely remember I run, and friends who are willing to hang out even if we can't run together. So why can't I just accept that this "is what it is" and try to make the best of it? Or, even better, "How can I take [shitty thing that has happened] and turn it into the best thing that has ever happened to me?" (Thanks for sharing that nugget of wisdom, R___.)
I've lost the compulsion to run, but retained the desire. For the two weeks after my last marathon, when I was supposed to be "resting," all I could think about was the fitness I was losing--fitness I would need to build upon if I wanted to run any faster in my next race. All I could think was, Why am I not running? I should be running! Well here I am now, stripped of my fitness, with no sign of getting it back anytime soon. After two weeks of panic and a few weeks of sadness, I'm stuck with a big cold dose of reality: those time barriers I was so anxious to break? They're gone, gone gone. I won't be seeing them, if at all, for quite some time. Yet I still want to run. It sounds cliche, but I dream about running at least once a week. I miss the feeling of power and control over my body. I miss the freedom of stepping outside and just going. So the love of running is still there, and despite the trials of the moment, that simple fact is comforting.
I'm swimming more than I have in almost a decade. Inherently, this is not a good or bad thing; it is just a fact. What's lucky is that I enjoy swimming. Also, it reminds me of the self who persevered for years, despite being the worst on the team, and still found satisfaction in working hard and seeing incremental progress. I like that self. Plus, these days, I mostly swim alone, so I have no one to compare myself against. I follow virtually no swimmers on social media, so it's sort of this pure thing, with no pressure or expectations. I know I'll never be a top-level swimmer, no matter how many hours I put into the pool . . . but that's okay. That's not why I do it.
My upper body is getting stronger. With no real lower-body exercise options (except a few PT-approved movements), I've taken to doing push-ups and planks on a much more regular basis. That's not to say I neglected these things before, but I most certainly did not do them every day. As a result, I'm up to 3x15 push-ups and 3 pull-ups, which I fully acknowledge is no great feat, but it's more than I've done before, so I'll allow myself a smidgen of pride. And who knows--maybe it'll help my running down the line. Crazier things have happened.