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On Not Running

Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live. - Dorothy Thompson

Not long ago @runnrgrl asked the question of me: What is your greatest fear?

Without hesitation, I replied: Not being able to run.

Running is who I am.
It's my joy, my hobby, my freedom.
It's my identity - quite literally, on Twitter and Blogger.
It's my sanity. My discipline. A big chunk of my social life.
It's what makes me feel like I'm "good enough" despite my many shortcomings.
It's how I met Tom, and no small factor in our marriage.

It has been six weeks since I've run.

I'm much more serene than I thought I'd be about this.

I try to stay sunny, keeping in mind that injury is temporary. I lift weights and cross-train. I feel glad for the opportunity to change things up and get stronger.

I don't watch what I eat. In fact, I'm a bit more indulgent. My philosophy is to enjoy my food, not obsess about my body. I'll use it as extra motivation to get back to my happy running weight when I'm healed. So far I've gained about five pounds. Truthfully, I'm kind of enjoying being a little curvier.

I'm using this time to enjoy the things that running often forces to the sidelines: leisurely meals with friends, long-plotted visits to the numerous wineries we pass by en route to our mountain runs, happy hour, exploring the city on bike rides, puttering in my garden, paddling kayaks.

Along with my coping mechanisms, I've observed some wholly unexpected changes.

I don't sleep as well. There's something so good about how hard I sleep after a good run. I think I'd run for that benefit alone. While I am waking more often, and sleeping less soundly, I also seem to need slightly less sleep.

I'm wearing glasses. Normally, I do this only between shower and bedtime, or when the pollen overwhelms my peepers. I can't wear them when I run (sweat makes them slide down my nose), but biking with them offers the extra benefit of keeping my eyes bug-free. And I feel much like I look in glasses: Nerdy. Contemplative. I'm another version of myself.

Oddly, I'm less obsessive about cooking away my CSA. I don't seem to fret as much about using every odd vegetable and herb in our share.

I'm enjoying time alone more, or perhaps I'm more mindful and relaxed. Before my injury, I was always trying to squeeze in one more thing.

Perhaps living the maxim "accept the things I cannot change" has permeated my perspective.

Could it be that I'm peeling away the layers of what I thought made me, and seeing more than I expected underneath?

In living my fear, I've stumbled upon this: I exist without running. And quite well, thank you.


25 comments:

  1. heresy! just kidding; very thought-provoking stuff, good to see you're doing well!

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  2. Kirstin, I always love your blog but this one is the best you have ever written. I love the poem portion. It says everything so well. That alone would have made this a great post but the admission that maybe it isn't all bad, is even better. That being said, I will be glad when you are back out there.

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  3. What a lovely reflection, Kir. Thank you. It takes a lot of courage to peel away and look inside. Glad to know you like what you see!

    I believe that when you get back at it, your running life will have more meaning and grace. In the meantime, enjoy all those quiet moments and the lovely fact of not having to fit it all in.

    See you tomorrow :-)

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  4. I always come back to something Kara Goucher was quoted as saying about her time being injured—that she had to remember she wasn't just a runner, but a person who loves to run. If a pro can wrap her brain around that, I figure we mortals can, too—and you've got exactly that attitude in mind. Hang in there, and keep enjoying those leisurely winery visits!

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  5. sigh. I like that you mention both the ups AND the downs. I'm feeling it all too. but am glad to know that you are able to find the good in all of this. you'll be back out there kicking ass soon.

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  6. Great writing. Just great. Note: In my eyes, you are WAY more than just a runner. And you always will be. :)

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  7. Nice introspective post, seems to be going around bloggyland. It's nice you faced your fear and liked what you found. Just don't go too far down that path...

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  8. Wow! Congratulations for handling yourself in such a distinguished way. I struggled when I sprained my ankle and was on crutches for a month. It was a crazy emotional roller coaster for me. I swam in the mornings instead, which helped some, but missed the running endorphins. I rushed back to running too quickly, and now I still have problems with my ankle over 2 years later.

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  9. Okay, you are an amazing writer and I love your post. It's heartfelt, authentic and I get it. I've been a "runner who can't run" for over a year now. What I have learned in the past year of no running is this: I'm still a "runner" at heart and I still love running. I'm still in the running community. I'm just "injured". That being said, I've found some other sports in which to generate those exercise-induced endorphins and have found other supportive and fun athletic groups (road cycling, strength training and open water swimming). It's given me peace to know that just because I can't practice running each day, I'm still accepted in the running community here as "one of us." And, as a positive, like yourself, I have a lot more time for other things enrich my life: family, cooking, creative projects, enjoying the moment. Best wishes!:)

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  10. You'll be back Kir.....back in 1995 I missed almost a whole year when I was extremely competitive on the roads. I missed "it" so much and sometimes wondered if ti would ever come back....but i was patient and it did. Haven't been down since because I learned so much then...you are now learning ;-)

    Steve

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  11. This was an awesome post! I love that you are actually slowing down more when injured when one's instinct would be that any runner might be more on edge during a time of recovery. Maybe life is just offering you one big opportunity to slow down and show you how much you love running. So cool that you are also appreciating your body as it is and eating what sounds good. Applauds all around.

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  12. Love that you are discovering new things about yourself. I think sometimes we get so used to defining ourselves a certain way, we forget that we are capable of being so much more. I hope your injury heals soon, but I also think the new you sounds really cool!

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  13. Great reflection.

    I was in a similar situation at a similar time. I just finished 6 weeks of no running, and very little exercise all together. At times, I enjoyed lazily doing nothing, eating whatever & staying up later.

    It was interesting to see how life played out without running, especially since it had become such a big part of my life.

    I came away from my experience with 2 big takeaways:

    1. I realized I loved running even more than I thought I did.
    2. Although my obsession with running, in many ways, is a good thing... there are other things in this world that I never gave the time of day. And now I have a greater appreciation for them.

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  14. What a great post (and reminder). I wasn't a runner for most of my life. Once I started running, it was more a habit and obligation than enjoyment. But then one day I couldn't run. My foot had swollen (sesamoids) and it took me 8 months to identify and recover from the injury.

    After that, it became clear that I loved running and have since been conscious to appreciate all that it gives me.

    Wishing you a speedy recovery. :)

    _Amy
    (http://www.expandoutdoors.com/blog)

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  15. My wife. What a great post. Thanks for sharing it with us. I know this hasn't been an easy time for you, but you have done a stellar job in maintaining a positive attitude and a pleasant disposition during your recovery. Running is a big part of our lives but like you said, we exist just fine without it. Cause there's bourbon. And wine. And ice cream. And let's not forget about those curves! Cause they are very fine. And you're my best mate. And I love you madly.

    Tbone

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  16. Thank you for sharing. I really really really enjoyed this post...and the comments, too. I hope that when I have to put running on the shelf again due to an injury that I will be able to see the positive side of the experience and make the most of it, too. You are an inspiration. I definitely won't be able to reduce the experience and my observations to written word like you did though. That was awesome. Lifting a glass of Lava Cap Petite Syrah to you and wishing you a speedy recovery. Sante. :-)

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  17. What a great blog!

    Have a nice time!
    Paula

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  18. You are handling this so much better than I would. I'm always afraid of what kind of mom I'd be if I didn't have running to smooth out the stress...

    And you are right - I need to cross train... Sigh.

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  19. I'm new here...this was a really thought provoking post. Thanks.

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  20. Two thumbs up. I love when fears are shattered and we realize that we are still standing once we (are forced to, sometimes) face them. You are much more than a runner that is for sure and it I think the temporary hiatus and the lessons you've learned will serve you greatly when you are back up and running.

    That said, hope your injury is healed soon so you can be back to running soon!

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  21. The last two sentences of your post were fantastic and quite up-lifting. Hoping you heal up and hair over quickly!

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  22. This is a very inspiring story to read, thanks for sharing more good thoughts. Nice blog too.


    zbsports

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  23. This is my first time on your site and I loved your post. As someone who has had to "sit out" a season or two because of an injury, you're absolutely right - running, although a big part of our life, does not define us. To do so undermines everything else about us. We are runners, but we are also so much more. Good luck with your recovery - your attitude is admirable.

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  24. Wonderful post and thoughts! I have been there before (injured) and when you are eventually healed you will look back on this time and it will make the time when you can run, even more special!

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