For one of the first times in my life, I hated running. I couldn't even fathom the thought of lacing up and running for an hour- or even 10 minutes. But now, now I long to be able to run for even just a couple steps.
Dear Injured Runner,
It's funny how you never truly appreciate something until you can no longer do it.
Running is not a chore, it is a privilege.
No one is entitled to a good run, or a good race just because they did everything right. You can do all the little things; ice, stretch, foam roll, epsom salt bath, ice bath, recovery runs, off days- and still somehow break. The pain of the injury is uncomfortable, but what's unbearable is the fact that you can't do the one thing that keeps you sane.
I told myself I would crawl, walk, drag myself across that Boston Marathon finish line. But for what? To say that I completed the most prestigious marathon in history? Why does this marathon hold more power over me than any other one before?
Does it mean anything if you do it while injured? Does it make you a better runner if you run it? Does it make you less of a person if you drop out? Do you base your worth off of the miles that you run? What are you trying to prove, and to whom?
You didn't come this far to only come this far, but you also didn't come this far to potentially risk an injury that could turn into something much worse. See for the longest time I based my worth off of 2 simple letters- PR. Person Records were all I was concerned about, I had to beat the person I was the last time I raced. Then I realized just how good I had gotten, then my main focus became primarily around 2 new letters, BQ. I did everything I could to Qualify for the Boston Marathon, eating better, running faster, lifting harder. Isolating myself to become the best runner I could be- so hard that I pushed myself to tearing all the ligaments in my left foot 2 years ago. I kept pushing, causing a prolonged injury. After the proper time off, I promised myself that if I ever got hurt again I wouldn't push myself. I did everything “right". Then I finally BQed. I finally thought of myself as a worthy runner. I felt as if I was apart of this elite Instagram group of Boston Qualifiers and people would finally think I was good enough.
So here I am, 3 BQ times later, 26 days out and completely heart broken. Never in a million years did I think this would happen, but I’ve learned that in running nothing is guaranteed. I would run through just about any injury, but this time it's different. This time my gut is screaming, begging, pleading "no". My heart says go for it, but my mind and body are telling me that I do not want to risk another serious injury. Is it worth it sacrificing the long term for this short term goal? Is it worth hurting yourself just to prove yourself to others? Prove you're "fast" enough, or "fit" enough? When is enough, enough?
I spent the last month trying to convince myself I loved running, no matter how hard it was. Now, it seems that all I needed was an injury to prove to me how much I in fact need running. I asked for God to show me the love that I had lost, and He did. Maybe not in the way I was hoping for, but I have to trust in His timing and His plan. I know things happen for a reason, and I have to keep my faith and trust in Him in order to understand why. It's hard to keep the faith when the answers are unclear, but doubting God would be much worse. A friend reached out to show me a verse that may help me through my struggle, "It was good for me to be afflicted, so that I may learn your decrees." Psalm 119:71.
As runners, there is no true finish line. There will always be one more race, one more run, one more mile. We will never know it all, and we may never have all the answers. But we keep showing up.
I have a lot left to learn, a lot of miles left to discover, but I will never let doubt destroy my faith. No more questioning, no more feelings of defeat. I asked for God to challenge me, He is testing me, and through this I will change.
I am strong enough to overcome this battle, and I will be stronger once I do.
So for the next 26 days I will pray, and if a miracle happens then so be it, but it is out of my hands for now.
So keep showing up, even when it's pouring rain or gusting winds. Show up. Lace up. Go for it. Run. Run until you can't run any more. And then turn around and run back. You never know when your last run for a while may be, so don't take it for granted. I've learned that a bad run, a slow run, a short run, is a million times better than not being able to run at all. So appreciate it. Thank it. Love it. Because running loves you.
A fellow injured, heart broken runner.