My favourite running clothes sit in the drawer, hang on the hook, rest on the shelf. They have gone unworn for far too many weeks. My long run fuel sits untouched in the fridge, and on their shelf, sits a plethora of my favourite running shoes I have strategically accumulated over time. I think of that feeling I have all day long afterwards on a long run day or a hard workout day, and then remember for a second what it feels like to push myself hard and to feel that “I’m choosing this pain” type of pain.
It’s a privilege to choose the suffering you get to endure.
I believe this injury — coming up as of yet undiagnosed or with no sure treatment plan — is some part of this journey and process that builds up the foundation and experience of me as a runner.
It’s cliché, but you can’t have the peaks without the valleys, you can’t appreciate the moments of high and bliss when you haven’t been low enough to know what it feels like to contrast it to later soaring high.
Time moves on. It’s going on weeks now since I have run any amount of distance, let along put in a training run or workout, and what is speed? My Garmin’s gauge of my current training status is “no status.” Perhaps the first time it has been accurate.
My road bike has been permanently attached to a trainer, which has taken up permanent residence in my kitchen. At any other time it would be laughable. Or annoying. Or both. But these days, it is situated at the point in my house that is closest to the patio door.
In the early hours of the morning, instead of lacing up my running shoes and mentally calculating what the maximum length of a run is that I can get in before other life demands, I’m hauling ass out the patio side door. It’s my compromise to be able to still be outside and get fresh air, despite not being able to run in it.
My bike attached to the trainer, me in my clip in shoes and bum-padding shorts, I set up on the patio bricks, towel by my side and settle in for a slog on the trainer. Maybe just an hour, often closer to two, working to keep that aerobic foundation strong that I worked so hard to build over these last several months. “It can’t go to waste,” I hear myself saying.
I know in my heart that no fitness ever really goes to waste. That in the end, I am building up a series of layers that constitute a foundation that create my experiences as a runner.
They shape me, mould me, push me and develop me. Experience is this unwritten currency, this undercurrent of flowing energy that builds and increases, serving as this great pile of unquantifiable wealth you don’t know you have or need. Until you do.
The need for that whole aforementioned believing in the process and knowing that this will somehow help me later couldn’t be more true now. I’m building resilience. I’m layering experience.
“I don’t know what to tell you or say to you,” my compassionate self tells me, “but there is an end somewhere.”
There is a fight through this and you get to the other side part of it; there is a some day you will look back on this and it will be just another blip and part of the journey part of it.
There is a “it’s part of the running experience,” part of it. The running experience; the running condition. This too shall pass. You will be okay. But running will always define its own terms, run its own show. It will always be within its own conditions.