You Use You Lose
I fell into that trap I promised I wouldn’t fall into. I ran a whole lot (that is not the trap) and I started racing and I liked the high and the satisfaction, blah, blah…and then I ruined it.
Running long distances is fun. I’m no marathoner, but a nice 8-10 miler on a beautiful Saturday morning does something to your psyche. It reminds you what you’re capable of, and beyond that, what you are capable of doing and enjoying. Running races is a great way to push yourself out of your comfort zone, to feel that adrenaline high. And when you start doing it enough, the satisfaction of finishing is compounded with this intense desire to do better–it’s human nature.
So, I ran a couple races, started training for another. And then, I decided to follow a training plan (shocking, really). I followed the plan and, surprise, I started improving, getting faster, feeling stronger. I started carrying my phone with me to track my pace and my exact mileage. It was working, I’d consistently shaved off 1:30 from my average pace, even at 11 mile runs.
I was ecstatic. And proud of myself. I couldn’t wait for race day, I couldn’t wait to see the difference in my race time.
And then, when out for a long run about ten days before the race, my hip started aching. It’d been aching for a while, but never enough to stop me from running. I was six miles out and had to turn around. I hobbled the last four miles home. I continued to hobble for about the next ten days.
Not only that, but after a rather unpleasant visit with a nurse, a referral to a orthopedic doc, X-rays and MRIs, I’ve been benched. The diagnosis is good: tendonitis or something like that, and bursitis. Nothing that can’t be fixed with a few weeks of physical therapy and REST. As in, no running.
The good news is, no surgery.
I’m remarkably okay with all of this. Brian has been waiting for BitchSarah to emerge, as she often does when lack of exercise has the unintended consequence of closing off the release valve. I mean, for two weeks I haven’t even been able to walk my dog. And if you know me, you know that exercise is not just something I enjoy, but is a very practical part of how my life works: i.e., I tend toward bipedal transportation.
And yet, I feel like there’s a message in this. And the message is: you lost it, girl. You lost the reason you run. If you’re just running to see the numbers decrease, to run the race and finish faster, you’ve totally lost the reason for running. And somehow, you’ve sullied the whole experience.
This lack of running has produced some interesting consequences. One, I don’t sleep as deeply or as long. My body just isn’t as tired. Two, I feel like a ginormous blob of poo, but as soon as I can start moving again, that will go away. Three, I have so much time. I started writing every morning again, I don’t feel as pressured to get an hour run, and hour dog-walk, coffee, shower, breakfast and bike to school all before 9 AM. My life feels more leisurely. But, I also have lost that feeling of serenity and physical relaxation that comes with a long run.
So, I’m learning. I’m learning about balance, and about having all the things that are important to me. One thing that is not, cannot, will not be THE thing for me, is a freakin’ race. The numbers just ain’t worth it.