What do you do when you’re a runner who can’t run?
You wake up excited to see what the plan has for you, then wake up a little more and grab your crutches in hopes of making it to the bathroom in darkness without impaling a cat.
You obsess over races a year away, researching and planning which lotteries to enter and which fallback races will be just as incredible.
You fill your time with more things. More guitar work, more experimental beer brewing, more movies, more texting, more reading, more friend visiting, more dog petting, more cat sparring, etc.
You work out everything you can. It all feels like substitution, but in the end it makes you a more well-rounded athlete.
You keep an eye on the big picture. You have to. The truth is that it’s a temporary condition. Whether or not there is a definite end in sight, a running injury doesn’t last forever. There are loads of people who suffer serious injuries and illnesses from which they’ll never recover, at least not to the same condition as before. If your only problem is that you can’t do one thing you love for a little while, your life is pretty damn good.
You settle into the rhythm of a journey, one in which you progress a little each day toward an eventual goal. You don’t need to live for the future; just focus on living now and one day it will lead to where you want to be.
You marvel at how incredible the human body is. It is a machine with thousands of parts working together to keep you going, and often all you need to do to repair it is to leave it alone. It repairs problems every bit as efficiently as it adapts to any task expected of it.
You pay more attention to other facets of life, because you have to. For me at least, the choice was not unlike teetering on a fence. On one side, there was complete immersion in injury. On the other, there was complete refusal to obsess. One or the other. The fact is the former reeked of self-indulgence, which is really not my style. I don’t even like it when people ask about my leg. I would much rather be productive and pour my energy into other things. I am constantly excited about running, but rarely linger on the thought that I can’t run right now.
All in all, this has been good for me. It’s given me a chance to step back and gain some perspective. Life is contrast, light and darkness, peaks and valleys, joy and sorrow, and each one illuminates its opposite. I don’t really think any of it is good or bad; the easy times make you grateful, the hard times make you strong. It’s all part of being human, which is a pretty fantastic journey in itself.