Today, I took a huge step forward in my recovery and towards getting back to running. Instead of just immediately stacking the latest issue on my bookshelf, I read Runner’s World for the first time since January.
If you think that sounds like it might not have very much to do with recovery, you’d be right and wrong. It has nothing to do with physical recovery. I’m still pretty much confined to my bed when I’m not doing physical therapy or 2 short 15-minute walks per day. Instead, reading Runner’s World is an important milestone in my mental recovery. I’m getting my head back in the game.
Ever since my back flared up, I haven’t been able to even pick the magazine up. It’s not because I’m not interested or because I don’t care or don’t like it anymore. It’s not that I don’t want to hear (again) about the 5 best foods for weight loss, how to run your best half-marathon, or how to never get injured again. It just hurts too much to look at. By the way, does anyone else want to just burn the pages of those injury prevention articles or is it just me?
The fact of the matter is that since I got hurt again, I haven’t been able to relate to runners at all. If you’re friends with me on Facebook and you’re a runner, you’re almost definitely hidden from my newsfeed. It’s nothing personal. I just can’t stand to see week after week of medals, progress, 7-mile runs, complaints about the weather, and triumphant race registrations. This injury has been so all-consuming that from the moment it first happened, I ceased to feel like a runner, even though I was still trying to gut out a few miles every once in awhile. Runner’s World just serves as another glaring reminder that I’m not a runner anymore. Or I am, I suppose, if “once a runner, always a runner” applies, but I’m not an active one. Whatever; semantics. The point is, I haven’t felt much like a runner lately, and only runners read Runner’s World.
I don’t remember what it feels like to run a mile. Really, I don’t. I remember what it feels like to finish a marathon, and I remember how much wind I sucked trying to lower my half marathon PR, but I don’t remember what actual running feels like. When I talk about running, I mostly feel like a fraud. I feel like I’m talking about someone I watched in a movie once (additional benefits include me being much faster in said movie and also much more graceful). Even though I have been determined to run again, I haven’t always known what that meant or what it will look like. It’s kind of confusing to explain, and maybe some of you with long term injuries will understand, but maybe you won’t.
For me, to even pick up that magazine again after all these months is huge progress. I’m allowing myself to be part of the community again. While it might seem that I’ve never really left because of the blog, I’ve mentally barricaded myself from a lot of things about running. For example, my race schedule is obviously on hold. The 50 states? Who knows when I’ll be done with those. PR training? Maybe someday, but maybe not. But either way, I’m glad to be thinking about running again in a proactive way. And I really did like the story about those hipster kids out in Flagstaff that all live in the same apartment and are trying to make the Olympic Trials. While I don’t feel like I have very much in common with them at the moment, I know we have two things. We all read the June 2014 issue of Runner’s World.
And we’re all runners.