This morning I sprang out of bed ready to run.
Last night, as I was drifting off to sleep, it was the first time in a few weeks where my shin wasn’t throbbing. Thanks to Tina’s advise, I went to my Chiropractor and he did some Active Release Therapy on it. Feeling like it was the last day of school and summer vacation had started, I closed my eyes hopeful that the next day would bring me back to my regularly scheduled marathon training.
I dropped my children off at school and came home to strap on my shoes, and headed out full of optimism. Mile one, “my shin isn’t perfect but the first mile is a liar.” Mile two, “still not great but better than last week.” Mile three, “maybe I should do 5 miles instead of 6.” Mile 4, “time to turn around and call it a day.”
You see, running is like that. You are not in control of running. There are times in your life when it listens to you like a treasured child, delivering beyond what you could ever expect, and when that happens it feels like pure bliss. The reality is that running is like having multiple children, each with very different personalities. Being angry and bitter that my child didn’t deliver is a very normal reaction, but is it the right one? To understand and unconditionally love running takes some time and wisdom.
The normal response to injury is to lash out, be frustrated, and feel defeated. But what if we looked at it a little differently? What if we approached our feelings like we would a rebellious child? Being spiteful and angry will only drive a deeper wedge between you and your offspring.
What if we truly accepted whatever running offered us, at any given moment, with gratitude and love? An unruly child isn’t easy to raise, and certainly can test your patience, but do we not love this type of child? Certainly not, in fact, perhaps what this child is crying out for is more attention and affection, just as an achy shin needs a trip to the doctor, or an ice pack. Ignoring is not the answer.
Aside from injury, running can bring immense joy. But it is never easy. It takes hard work every single time you step out the door. It doesn’t always go as planned. Sometimes you head out for a 13 miler and have to turn around at mile 3. What about the time you went out to dinner full of hope and had to come home because your child was misbehaving and couldn’t sit still? It’s disappointing, but it doesn’t mean that you can never go out to dinner with your kids again, or that they will never behave.
Running is a never ending process, just as parenting is. We want to have complete control over our children, but the truth is, we don’t. We can guide them, we can establish boundaries, we can love them, but in the end, they are their own people. Parenting is hard work, I don’t think there is one person out there that will tell you different, but it’s the best kind of work. The kind that will kick your ass, but leave you feeling proud and joyful. Sound familiar? How about the tempo run you never thought you’d get through? Running will test your limits, it’s humbling, and it’s forever giving me joy and love, just like my children.
Have you ever been lost on a run? I have. There was a moment of panic, “I’m not sure if I can run far enough to find my way back.” In the few times this has happened, I relaxed and listened to my inner guide… my gut, if you will. I used my intuition to find my way back home. Have you ever felt like this as a parent? You panic, not knowing what to do next, 20 well meaning friends and family members are all throwing out their unsolicited advise, you feel confused and lost. In those moments, I found it best to do exactly what I would do on a run: listen to your gut, and ask for directions if you need to.
So how can I be mad or upset that my shin still hurts after almost two weeks? I have always been a sucker for the rebellious spirit. If given a choice, I would always select the most difficult path, the edgy outfit, the guy who rides the motorcycle, the one who sold everything to travel the world, and the naughty dog that no one wants. I sit here typing this with a huge smile on my face. Is it possible to unconditionally love, accept, and even smile through an injury? For me, the answer is, yes.
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