Running doesn’t define me

I’ve been talking and reading a lot about running injuries lately.  It seems like every time I turn around someone else I know or another blog writer I follow is sidelined with an injury.  It’s frustrating.  It’s frustrating for me to be living with an injury.  But lately, it’s even harder for me to read about everyone else’s injuries.  I think because on some level, having this surgery felt like THE ANSWER to all my injury problems.  And once I took care of that, I would run pain free and happily ever after into the sunset.  But reading about all these injuries has me scared.  What if that’s not the case?  What if I start running and suffer another terrible injury?  Are injuries just part of a runner’s reality?  Is running even worth it??

For me it is.  I’m not going to let fear keep me from doing something that brings me so much joy.  But I think one of the most important parts of being injured is what we take away from it.  And not just the training lessons.  I’ve had a looooooooooong time to think about what I’ll do differently this time around.  I don’t think anyone around me was surprised that I hurt myself.  I was running like a maniac.  But I’m taking away a lot more than training tips from this.  Running was my coping mechanism for a while.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.  When you’re stressed or angry or happy or sad, working it out on a run can be a healthy way to process things.  The problem is when you’re dealing with hard stuff and it’s your only coping mechanism so you start running a million miles a day.  It’s like a handy man who only has one tool.  I mean, a screw driver is a super handy thing to have but when you need a hammer, you NEED a hammer.  A screw driver just isn’t going to cut it.

How does this relate to running?  Well, I needed a hammer.  And I was forced, albeit kicking and screaming, to find one.  It was a long hard journey but I did eventually add a few more tools to my bag.  And along the way, I found myself.  I stopped defining myself through running.  I guess I’m not alone in this.  I think a lot of people start running during adversity.  To cope with or overcome something hard in their lives.  Running makes it feel better for a while and we want to hold on to that feeling for a little longer.  So we run more and further and harder.  I would bet it’s pretty common to find people with addictive personality types as distance runners.

When I read this on irunfar yesterday, it really struck a cord with me,

“I was essentially forced against my choice to not run for nearly a year. It took me a long time, but eventually I came to accept that reality, and every time I moved closer to this acceptance I noticed that my health (physically and emotionally) would improve measurably in the days and weeks to follow. Now, I feel like I have a much better understanding of when to force myself out the door on a run, and when to stay inside and put my energy into something else. Even more importantly, I feel like I now have a better ability to accept when this is the case, and not look at it as a bad thing.

I’ve gone running three or four times in the last three weeks. For most of my running career I would have looked at this as a bad thing, as though there must clearly be something wrong with me. Now, though, I feel like I have gained a better sense of not seeing an unexpected break like this as a problem, or as a bad thing.”

At the end of this, as I ease back into running, I hope to have the same attitude.  Some days I’ll know I need extra rest days.  And instead of feeling frustrated or upset about it, I hope I can see the wisdom of it and be happy to turn my attention to something else that could use it.  Because whether I accomplish all my running goals or not, doesn’t change who I am.  I am a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend.  I am me.



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