I have to admit that it is injury that has led me to begin this blog. My current staus as a runner is: Injured. One the Bench. Not Running. Though painful, frustrating, and irritating, injury has caused my to rethink my approach to running.
At school I was always the one you couldn’t possibly be worse than. I was the one walking across the finish line, keeping my friends from being last. I got one star out of five for athletic performance every year. There were only a few of us who would ever manage to sink as low as ‘one star’ . Most didn’t seem to care too much, would accept their certificate with a smile, and, with a twinge of irony, share their achievement with their friends. I was always a little bit ashamed. One year, I decided I wasn’t having it. I ran a little harder, put a little bit of spring in my step, and it paid off. The next year, I got two stars, and secretly, I was pretty proud of myself.
I was never tempted to delve any further into the world of sport, I accepted my lower-average two star rating and was happy. At least, until I went to university and put on the dreaded ‘freshers five’ (or six, or seven..) pounds. I went for a run, and another, and another – before I knew it I was hooked.
My most exciting, exhilarating, I-never-want-to-stop-running moment came when I crossed the finish line of my first 5k race. It was ‘Race for Life’, there were 2.5thousand women running with me, and I came in at number eight. Throughout the race, I was convinced there were hundreds ahead of me, and that I was running slower than I ever had before. Not so. Imagine my glee when I discovered the number of runners ahead of me totalled only to seven! I felt, for the very first time, like a real contender. In effect, I had set a goal, and smashed it – it was like receiving a three star certificate!
For a while, I loved my running. However, soon I found myself working harder and harder, pushing myself to run faster and faster. Running stopped being about de-stressing, and became the source of stress. Nothing was ‘can’ or ‘could’ or ‘rewarding’, only ‘must’, ‘should’ and ‘improving’. I became focused on what I had yet to achieve, forgetting what I had already managed.
As I’m sure you can imagine, injury was soon to follow. I have spent three weeks not running now. At first, I was in despair – I imagined my PBs sinking lower, my jeans getting tighter, and my goals drifting further and further from me. I didn’t give up, though. In fact, I upped my game. I have since become a cross training fanatic. I have taken up pool running (and discovered I actually quite like swimming!). I’ve been delving into the wonderful, fast paced, high intensity world of kettlebell training. During the last three weeks, I’ve lost weight, gained some muscle that I was seriously lacking, and, most importantly, rediscovered the reason that I train. I train not to persue a certain number on the clock, but for the sense of achievement that comes every time that number gets a little bit smaller. I train to give myself some time in the day that is devoted to myself alone. Training, in simple terms, is my selfish indulgence. My training is about me, and no one else.
When I get back to hitting the road, I aim to keep up with the cross training. I will continue to cycle, swim, lift, and run – as and when I want to. Adding variety has re-kindled my passion, and though it might make me less of a ‘serious runner’, or less ‘focused’, I think that might well be a good thing. It might take me longer to improve, but at least I won’t become disillusioned, and give up. When it comes down to it, running is my hobby, hobbies are meant to be enjoyed. I hope I never lose sight of that fact.