A Return to Runner’s World

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. Β 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?

It’s fine, Runner’s World. I’M FINE.

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.

On Wednesdays we wear pink and on Saturdays we run marathons. Except I don’t, just everyone else does.

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.

33 thoughts on “A Return to Runner’s World

  1. I agree with you. I am envious of your surgery because I do not have the guts to go to my neurosurgery appointment to figure out what the next step is for me. I have had one back surgery already and I do not want another one. When I run, I am drugged up to forget the pain. PR sounds great unless the nerves in your back are have a karate match. I am excited for you and hope this surgery helps you to run again.

    1. Thank you so much, Cara! It is nice to talk to someone who understands EXACTLY where I am at. I think it would be very hard to recover from this surgery, start running again, and have to get another surgery later (although that’s what will happen if I’m lucky). I honestly think I’d rather just have my second one while still recovering from this one so at least when I did start again, I would have hope that it would be for good. I’m thinking about you, so please let me know if you ever want to commiserate! Good luck. I hope we’ll both be out there again very soon!

  2. So glad you’re getting the itch again – and don’t worry if you have buried my feed and burned my emails … I take no hard feelings. You have had to endure more since I’ve known you these past couple of years than anyone should in a lifetime. We’ll all be here for you regardless of how long this takes or what it looks like. And like I said before, I expect to have you tell me in person what that mile feels like one day at your uncle’s house πŸ™‚

    1. Oh God, now I’m paranoid. Did you email me and I never emailed back? Please tell me because I am very bad about reading emails on my phone and then meaning to respond later but never responding.

      And I will definitely take you up on that! It just might be in like…2019.

  3. How do you always manage to capture exactly what I am feeling in your posts? After those 2 god-awful months of kidney stones and final projects for grad school, I have felt like a fraud this spring in regards to running. My last half marathon proved it as it was the second worst time ever. (I know it was a brutal course with the hills, but I was really done at Mile 5 before the hills.)

    After the half I have been so busy with my final projects, that running was a fond memory. I am DONE as of Friday. Now just waiting for the final grade and graduation is on May 17th. πŸ™‚

    I finally got the sneakers on today and it was both awful and awesome. Great to get out there moving, but every step of the 2 miles was stiff and sore. Hoping the next one gets easier.

    I have no doubt you will run again. Hopefully you will keep it fun. As long as it is fun, it is worth doing it.

    1. I will have to read this month now. I am curious about the hipsters, LOL. I had thrown it in my book bag and of course, have not touched it while doing my projects.

    2. It’s magic, Conni! Magic and Jedi mind tricks.

      Don’t beat yourself up too much about the half, although I know it is easier said than done. At least you were out there doing it, and now you are DONE with school (CONGRATULATIONS) and kidney stones (hopefully) and are back at it! And that’s something to celebrate no matter what!

  4. It may not be running, but when I was first going through my separation I couldn’t stand to read, hear or see about someone in a relationship. I just couldn’t. It hurt too much and just served as a reminder of what I didn’t have, and that sucked.

    Big creepy hugs to you and well wishes on your recovery.

    1. I think that’s exactly the same thing, and I felt that way at the start of my separation too! Thanks for the big creepy hugs, as always πŸ™‚

  5. Honestly being mentally back in the game is a bigger step (in my opinion) then being physically back in the game. I’m glad you are slowly started to get back to where you were and I really hope that you are physically able to run again soon.

    1. Thank you, Hollie! It is nice to feel a little more optimistic and connected again, for sure.

  6. It’s like a zen koan: if you are not running, are you still a runner? The answer is yes – you have the heart of a runner. (Tucked away in a small box under the bed.) If you still get something out of running, you’re a runner. And you’ll have your first mile again. Hang in there!

    You’re also a lot more than just a runner though, you’re a very funny and thoughtful writer, an entrepreneur, a person capable of making your other half eat green vegetables (no mean feat this), et.c. You should appreciate all of that, too. πŸ™‚

    1. Haha Grace, I laughed at the eating vegetables part because I am just about to prepare another meal with hidden green vegetables in it! I think it is especially hard for me to appreciate many of the other “things” that I am because most of them have really evolved since I started running. Running is not the reason for them, of course, it’s just that my life has changed so much since I started that it is hard not to go back to that impetus. But you’re right! I need to remember that and keep it in perspective.

  7. Wow, this gave me goosebumps!! I can SO relate having had a few injuries myself and feeling so detached from running and other runners. What I discovered though is that “it all comes back to you”- like getting on a bike or a horse after you’ve fallen off and hurt yourself badly. You WILL run again and YOU ARE A RUNNRT!!

    1. Thank you so much! I know it will all come back, having had one long-term injury before with my first stress fracture. It’s just such a weird feeling to have one of the biggest parts of your life taken away from you. I also always felt bad when people would ask if I was feeling better or how my back was doing and I had to give them another depressing report!

  8. I get this. I still can’t read running blogs, or Runners World or social media posts about that awful 10 mile training run someone just had or tearful blog posts about why isn’t she faster.

    That’s because I’m still getting worse, not better.

    What must be happening to you is that finally you feel like you are getting better! I’m so happy for you!

    1. Oh no!! That means my blog might be on the way out too! I totally understand. I’ve found myself skipping over a lot of blogs. I’m still at the point where I’m feeling worse than I did before I had surgery, but I am hopeful that eventually I’ll pass the point of feeling the same and then feel better! Whether that happens with this procedure or not – and I have to be realistic, it might not – I feel good knowing that I have a plan and am actually taking action to heal.

  9. I hurt my back when I was 36 and had to quit running or walking or exercising till I was 40. Totally understand – you can’t just gut through injury in all cases and it doesn’t make you weak or inferior. Wish that the mags would really speak to that. Take your time – I didn’t run my first marathon till age 49. It’s not all over – you just have to work within your limits.

    1. That’s such an important point and I’m glad you brought that up, Kathy! You can’t just gut through injury sometimes and not all injuries heal quickly, or with a few days or weeks off. It’s defeating to have to start completely back over, but it’s better than not being able to start again. I’ll be interested to see what my new limits are!

  10. OMG I totally thought I was the only one who did things like that. While I was in PT for my back I couldn’t read the magazine, or any of my friends’ Facebook posts, or see other runners without getting nauseated.

    And no, you’re not the only one who wants to burn those pages.

    1. You’re not the only one! I’ve felt like such a bitch for being so bitter about it, but I can’t help it. It’s not that I don’t want my friends to keep running, because of course I do…I just don’t want to know about it πŸ™‚

  11. Your article hit home with me. It’s been over a year since my injury, surgery etc. I can’t remember what it feels like to run either … but I know I will again…
    Staying in the mental game is harder to me than the physical. I have lots of RW reading to catch up on as well.
    Keep the faith.

    1. I’m so sorry to hear that, Heather! The mental game really is the hardest part…which is saying something since the physical is hard, too! I don’t know if I’ll ever go back and read the other issues, even though I have them. I hope you recover soon!

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