‘It happens to everyone.’ ‘Its how you handle it that makes the difference.’ Yeah yeah, I know all this I spout this all the time (well not all the time, but we have to face the fact that injury is the major downside to being an athlete, especially a long distance runner.) But I want to run, I NEED to run, I can hear myself whining, I can see my sulky face, my grumpiness and I cant stop myself.
So after my last race in July I had a bit of a sore foot, after I fell during the race I did something funny to my foot, but carried on running. After the race and feeling brutally disappointed in my performance I wanted to get back to training straight away and enter every race I could find (classic behaviour). I did build back slowly into running, but the foot niggle was there, it was getting bad, but I carried on running. But it got to the point where I couldnt walk on it in the morning and after my last long mountain run it was so sore I couldnt walk barefoot. That is very sensible behaviour Eddie. But, you see, if you read this, you are proabably one too or understand these behaviours. I am a total addict. I live to run. I live to be outside. Just me. I need this in my life or I actually cant cope. Life is too tough, too consuming, too loud for me to be in it all day. I need time.
So I was warned in no polite words to stop running or I risked this becoming a long term injury. I was gutted. I was actually feeling really good in training and excited to be having a crack at 100 miles in October. But that wasnt to be. Thats ok I told myself, few days off and Ill be back. For the first few days I actually loved not running, I was able to savour mornings in my pjs, drinking tea. But, of courses, after a few days I got grumpy, real grumpy.
The problem with being a running addict is when its taken away from you there is a huge hole in your life. My whole life revolves around running, my work, my friends, my family, even the dog is so used to running hours and hours every day she has gone spare pacing around the house after me with that – why aren’t we going outside face?!
Ive been here before. I know what to do, I need to hit the strength, to sit on the bike, to go swimming, but this time I feel truely bereft at the loss of my running time. I have had some serious chats to myself, I feel myself slipping into a depression which is so unlike me. I can nearly always find the sunshine in everyday. But this time its been tough. I took my running for granted, I was too greedy and now Im paying for it.
With Coach Jayson I have written and rewritten strength work and swam like I have not done in 6 years. I have not felt that motivated to train, so I have just ridden with that. Trying to listen to my body rather than fight it back into fitness. So many people I see cross train like mad things when injured and I do think you need to give your body some down time to let the inflammation die down and energy to heal without trying to desperately hold onto fitness.
I’ve tried to flow through the last few weeks. In weepy moments I’ve tried to maintain perspective, but also to let myself feel low. I think its important to allow yourself to feel a bit blue and not fight an injury, but allow a bit of wallowing, then when its time take a deep breath and dive back into life. Putting on a brave face outside the house is important to me and the kids. Their life goes on, as does my clients, so though inside a little bit of me is really sad, I must carry on. This is all good training I tell myself, when the going gets tough, cope with the adversity and keep moving on. Time is a great healer.
Finding the motivation to go the gym or pool has been tough at times, but Ive persisted as I know I would only regret that hugely once I can run again. I am a big believer in ‘movement’ helping the healing process as well of course as the release of those essential endorphins which I know will lift my mood.
The rainbow over the mountain has been missing for a few weeks for me. But I can feel the happiness creeping back in. An easy jog this morning with a great friend, relatively pain free, an offer of a mountain bike from other friends, a great performance by a client who himself has fought back from injury, little pockets of sunshine, light on the horizon. The whisper of winter over the mountains. The excitement of snow. Life holds so much joy here. The path I have followed this year, hasnt been the one I planned. But then when is it? Its still my path and Im proud of it.
I wanted to write this as I know so many fellow friends who suffer with injuries and how tough it is when you lose your everyday purpose. Try and cut yourself some slack, dont be afraid to wallow, but also find some perspective. Running is our gift, its not our right. Look after your bodies and mind. Talk to loved ones. Get a strength plan. Ride a bike. Take a swim. Take time to drink your tea. You’ll be back on the trails, stronger, wiser and a little more appreciative in no time. Patience is your best friend. Dont fight her, she will always win!
Heres to finding my patience, being brave and not being afraid to admit I’m finding life hard. Heres to the rainbow at the end of the storm, its there, its just up to me to look up and find it.