Let’s start with this.
I’m a runner. Wrong. I’m a would-be runner. No, that seems inaccurate since it suggests I lack the natural ability or the motivation to run. I used to be a runner. So what, am I giving up??? I’m a runner wanna-be. God!!! No, I actually don’t hero-worship any runner(s), though I do admire several.
So does this mean I can no longer identify as a runner or associate myself in any degree with running? Or do I have to define myself as “a person who used to run and would run today if only my G-D spine weren’t compressing a nerve which sends a shooting pain down my right leg whenever I try to run more than a few hundred metres? This seems completely unfair.
Life is unfair.
I don’t accept that . . . Life is unfair for other people, but it’s going to be fair for me or I’m done.
Uh huh. Get over it. And get over yourself while you’re at it.
I used to run. Not so long ago. I loved getting up in the early morning (the earlier the better) putting on a pot of coffee to shake off the drowsies, then slip on the running shoes and get my first breaths of the day working up a sweat in the cool of an early fall morning . . . or any morning. There was nothing better. Like so many others who have taken up the sport, running was my outlet. It got me through everything I was enduring in my routine day-to-day life: marriage, work, my professional certification studies, family. It connected me with myself.
And now it’s gone.
I struggled with the separation anxiety for many months. In fact, I faced down several injuries during my running “career”, including a torn hamstring. I thought I could beat this one too. But so far my body has been as stubborn as an ox. And at present I’m so tired of fighting and so out of money trying to fund my recovery efforts through physio, chiropractic, Pilates, etc. I’ve just given up. It’s a losing battle. There comes a point where we come to the belief that some things just aren’t meant to be.
Giving up sucks. It takes away from everything that came before, as though those accomplishments are somehow stained or illegitimate. Worst of all is the feeling of losing my affiliation with that group of people who identify as runners, believing I no longer belong with them. I am not worthy anymore.
And this sense of estrangement is intensified by looking around at the popular media. No one ever seems to spend much time discussing the state of being injured. It’s as though that unpleasant element of the community is closeted, put out of sight and not spoken of, like a dirty little secret. When the subject does come up, it’s all about how to prevent or recover from certain injuries. And of course the recovery times are always fashionably (and in my case, hopelessly) optimistic. ‘Decrease the intensity and distance of your runs for 7-10 days. If the injury persists for more than 2 weeks see a doctor.’ Hello! By the time I’m injured I can’t run another kilometre, certainly not for 7 more days. And for your information seeing your family doctor about these injuries may get you a reference to a sports medicine professional and a prescription for pain killers but there’s no magic wand to be waved by either of them.
And so we reach the great void, the state of living with a chronic injury on a day-to-day basis. The ‘wait and see’ game. Maybe I’ll recover, maybe not. I’ve been here for the last 10 months, and this isn’t the first time I’ve endured such a lengthy convalescence. At first I went straight to my physiotherapist, who had brilliantly treated and coached me back from my hamstring tear over the previous year. I followed her exercise regimen religiously, received regular treatments. Nothing. We ramped it up, different exercises, new forms of treatment. Still nothing. Finally after about six months of this she told me I needed hardcore core training, the kind I could only get from Pilates. She recommended classes. I was hesitant because of the expense (finances were draining rapidly) but I eventually sought out a studio and started my introduction. I quickly discovered there were limitations to what I could do because of my injury which prevented attending the classes my physio had thought appropriate. I could get private instruction, but that was out of the question financially.
And that’s when I gave up. The summer was before me and I felt I could sustain myself with outdoor activities. I was wrong, mostly.
Now with the fall closing in, I know I need to reorient myself, establish new goals and put in place a plan for achieving them. I’m considering going back for chiropractic treatment (my first encounter with this is a subject for another post). This will be covered by insurance so there’s not much to lose. Meanwhile I’m joining a gym. Hopefully I can get motivated enough to go regularly. Maybe I’ll even start to feel like I’m getting back into shape.
But make no mistake. Nothing will ever replace running. As long as I can’t run, there will be a great void in my life.
When a passion runs so deep that you feel it defines you, how can you do anything but identify yourself as such. And so I say to world, defiantly and persistently, “Hello, I am runner, though I cannot run!”