R & R

“There is more to life than increasing its speed.”

R & R

Just over a week ago, I completed another marathon. A marathon- the height of runnerchica inspiration, one would think. As I started the race, I had a few things I wanted to accomplish that day.  I did have a time goal, which I mentioned to my brother prior to the race. He commended me on that, but reminded me that the true aim of any marathon should be to enjoy the experience, and to finish. Good point.  I added that to my list of goals, the main one being to pick up some inspiration for a new runnerchica. Maybe I’d discover a new way to look at marathons, maybe I’d learn valuable life lessons on the road.  Maybe I’d find a way to get philosophical with the concept of energy gels or body glide. I was pretty desperate for material.

A beautiful, crisp, sunny race day set the stage for that perfect AHA moment to fuel my writing. I tried to “feel it” and use the sights, sounds, and moments of the run to conjure up something good. Mile after mile, when I wasn’t thinking of the mysterious new pain in my right leg, or the throbbing of the blister that had exploded in my left shoe, I was concentrating deeply on ideas for this column. Again and again, my mind went blank. Even crossing the finish line failed to inspire. The wall of the marathon had  “Wonder-Twin Powered” itself into a wicked writer’s block.

So I left that day with nothing… nothing, that is, except a bit of an injury. The annoying “is that a vice grip around my shin?” I felt throughout the marathon did not miraculously go away post race. I woke up on Monday, unable to flex my foot. Fear penetrated my bones, my being. Was my running career OVER? Would I ever run, or WRITE about running again?!?! I imagined 18 stress fractures running up and down my shin, side lining me for months and months. Later in the day I decided to consult my two favorite PT’s, who happen to be married. In their living room, they each evaluated my leg, then spoke in some secret language that mixed husband/wife lingo with medical jargon. I had no clue what they were saying.

“CAN I RUN AGAIN?!?  IS IT BROKEN?!?”  I was desperate for answers. No, they were quite certain it wasn’t a stress fracture. It was actually tendonitis.

Now, from experience, I knew that when you put an “Achilles” in front of the word “tendonitis” it is definitely not good.  I paused, and slowly asked… “Is this bad? What does this mean?” Translation- when the hell could I run again?

They assured me that with Motrin, rest, and ice, I’d be as good as new in a few weeks.

Unfortunately, for this idiotchica, I down sized the weeks to days, and was running just a week later. After all, I hadn’t had pain for a whole day. As I laced my shoes, my husband looked at me as if I were crazy and asked just why I was going for a run.

“I have to run…. I need inspiration for runnerchica.”  And I was out the door before he could comment.

So I set out. A mile into it, my leg felt good. No pain! Woo hoo! Yet my bliss was short lived as I thought about the article I needed to come up with. I had not produced new material for nearly two weeks. Now, I know this has probably not been a hardship for those who visit this site. But for me, producing weekly articles had become something I felt I needed/wanted to do. As I ran, my mind raced with thoughts of how “blocked” I had become, and how much time I had taken off. Too much time…

Then I stopped. Literally. My leg was hurting again, and I didn’t want to screw it up more. As I hobbled to a park bench to sit down, it all started to become clear. Hello, your leg is hurting because you need to STOP. Give yourself a break, let time and nature heal something that had been caused by months of overuse.  Similarly, I realized that I wasn’t thinking of any grandiose ideas for my writing, because I needed a break from that too. I had literally ran and written my heart out for months and months- why was I being so hard on myself for a little R & R? Why did I feel I couldn’t stop and smell the roses for a bit?

As I walked farther, I realized that I had a hard time giving myself a break because the world around me… does not take breaks.  Ever. The world, in general, is not a big promoter of breaks, or slowing down.  The world is not patient either. This might be due to the fact that it is full of things we can access at the blink of an eye- internet, emails, texts, day surgery, fast food, fast cars.  With all of this infiltrating our lives, sometimes we tend to believe that EVERYTHING should be available instantly, constantly, and continually.

If Lasik surgery can improve vision in minutes, why does it take weeks to clear up pink eye? If a mother is sent home a day after giving birth, then why the heck isn’t she feeling better two weeks later? Why does it take five minutes to decide you like the culture of a company yet months and months to adjust to it? If we just took one day off of work with the stomach flu then why, by golly, are we still feeling lousy three days later?

The truth of it is, we have so many instant buttons we can press in our daily lives, that we have come to believe that there’s an instant button to fix everything. And when we don’t have access to that instant button, we get frustrated.  This frustration sometimes makes us push even harder, and in a self-perpetuating cycle of doom… we find ourselves right back where we started. In my case, feeling exactly the way I did one day post race, with my shin wrenching with pain. All because I listened to the “go-go-go” pulse of the world rather than the voice in my head that was pleading with me to give it a rest.

In this world of many messages, may the ones that reach you the fastest be those that are closest to your heart. The faster you realize this, the more time you will have for you.

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