The number one way that you can drive a runner crazy is to tell them they can’t run. Then just sit back and watch the madness ensue. For the past month or so, I have not been able to run because of a knee injury. I thought that I should share this experience with you because I know that some of you may have dealt with this yourself. Or, although I really hope not, you might have to deal with it in the future. This has been a tough month, but I do think some good has come from me having to deal with this injury.
Towards the end of April, Adam and I were doing a workout together that included some running along with squats and pushups. During the running parts, I noticed a little twinge on the outside of my knee, but didn’t pay much attention to it because it wasn’t bothering or hindering me in any way. That changed near the end of the workout when I could barely run/walk because of the pain in my knee. I thought that I had just over worked myself that week and just needed a little rest/ice and my knee would be good to go. I have been extremely lucky in my time as a runner that I have had practically no serious injuries. So I rested all the next day and iced my knee and by Monday morning it felt better, so out I went for my run. About 3 minutes in, the pain was back full force and I had to hobble my way back home.
Thus began my time of not running. This was the first time in my whole running “career” that I had to stop running for longer than a few days. I immediately went into panic mode and jumped to the worst possible conclusions and thought, “What if I can never run again?” Yes, I can tend to be a little overdramatic. The first few days of not running, I was pretty miserable. To make matters worse, running was the ONLY thing that irritated my knee. I would do yoga, my crossfit like workouts, walk, ride my bike, and anything else you can think of and my knee would be fine. But start to put one foot in front of the other in a running motion, and I was down for the count. This was also right around the time that all the stress of our future move started to really pile up. All I wanted to do was go for a run but I couldn’t. I knew that I needed an outlet for all that pent up frustration, so I started to bike in the mornings.
I do not like biking. I still do not like biking. In fact I probably dislike it more now than I did before my injury. Biking just is not my thing. I like the idea of biking and I respect and appreciate all the people out there who love to bike. My husband is a biker, and I love to encourage him to bike more and do what he loves. But put me on two wheels and tell me to go, and I will make a face like a kid being told to eat a worm. You’re probably wondering two things at this point, 1. Why did she replace running with biking if she hates it and 2. Has she ever eaten a worm and is that why she used that analogy? To answer the second question, no I have never eaten a worm, don’t worry. To answer the second, it’s a little complicated.
The simple, quick answer is because I thought I had to ride my bike if I wasn’t running. The more complicated, and more honest answer, is I was afraid. Running has become my therapy. It was one of the catalysts for finally taking charge of my health and changing and I have fallen in love with it. Running had always been there and it had always helped me, even if I didn’t think I needed help. Now it was gone and I was afraid of what would happen to me. I was afraid that I would lose ground in my overall health and fitness. I was afraid that if I stopped running I would never run again. I was afraid that I would somehow turn into the old me before I decided to change my life and become healthier. I didn’t want to wake up one morning and look in the mirror and see the unhealthy girl that was never totally confident about herself staring back at me. I thought that without running I would immediately lose all I had gained as well as gain all that I had lost.
As this month has gone by, I can tell you that none of my fears have come true. Once I stopped pouting about not being able to run and came to terms with that fact that if I wanted to get totally better I had to stop running, I realized that I could do this. Being a runner isn’t the only thing that makes me me. Running isn’t the only thing that has made me healthier these past few years. It’s funny, but once I took away running, I was able to see all of the other areas of my life that I am really good at and that promote my overall health. I am pretty decent at yoga, and poses that I always thought were out of my reach actually come quite naturally when I focus and concentrate on my form. I am strong. I can do squats for days, and I am almost to being able to crank out a good number of full pushups, something I have struggled with for a long time. I am fairly good at coming up with creative ways to use the foods I eat on a regular basis. I am getting better at using the ingredients I have on hand to make delicious and healthy meals. While to a certain extent I have always been confident in the kitchen, I have become even more so and I am also more confident in doing my own thing and not always following a recipe to the T.
Without running, I would never have discovered or paid much attention to these other areas of my life and I would have missed out on the other great things that make me, me. But it’s time to bring running back. I miss it a lot. I miss the feel of the ground beneath my feet as I finally hit my stride. I miss the smell of the trees and grass as summer is making it’s way to the midwest. I miss the feeling of accomplishment and invincibility that follows a ten mile run. I even miss the it hurts so good sessions of foam rolling my IT band. This week I am going to start to slowly add running back to my life. I am still a little nervous that the pain will come back in the first few minutes of my run. I still have the irrational fear of never being able to run again. But I also have the newfound knowledge that just because I define myself as a runner, that isn’t the only thing that defines me.