Since I was 7 years old, I have been a runner. I was a 5k fun runner with my mom, I was a basketball player who ran on the side, I was a costumed Cap 10k runner, I was a high school trackster traveling to meets with my parents, and I was a member of a collegiate track program. Even with injuries or high school summer vacations, I never took more than a couple months off. But now I’ve been off for five months, an amusing yet staggering figure to me.
Naturally, I’ve had a lot of time for reflection about my sport and what it means to me. I miss running. The last five months have, mentally, been the worst of my life. Running was a consistent thread in my life, and without it I’ve found it very difficult to focus on managing my time, feeling motivated about anything, and feeling like I’m accomplishing anything useful in school, work or relationships. When I stopped running in November, I felt a lack of motivation for the rest of life, and that quickly manifested itself in a lack of accomplishment. Everything, at least in my small-minded view, started to fall out of order.
With school, I stopped doing reading for classes. It wasn’t a conscious decision, I just didn’t make it happen and did other stuff like spend an entire morning making marshmallows from scratch instead. I sat through classes bored and uninvolved. At night, I’d surf the internet until 3 or 4 am. Several times when I had a big assignment due the next day, I’d procrastinate literally all night on my computer until 7 a.m. because I couldn’t make myself start the assignment. I NEVER did this in undergrad; if you had a tempo to run at 6:30 a.m. somehow you could find a way to get school done. I wasn’t perfect then, but I was not disordered to that level. It was scary.
With working out and overall health, cycling was a decent outlet for a while, but it just didn’t provide the same validation or compulsion that running did. I did alright in the first couple months with near-daily cross training, getting more involved in the Baylor Cycling Club (mountain biking! *fist pump*), but in December I started to slip. My doctor directed me to sit out the bike as a new tactic for speeding up healing on my stress fracture, and swimming just didn’t have the same draw for me to work out. Not to mention, all my night owl antics didn’t leave me feeling fresh and ready to work out very often. There were a couple three-week spans where I didn’t work out AT ALL. Not having to eat to perform (no track practice this afternoon = chocolate chips for breakfast no prob), plus late-night binges and the lack of working out caused me to gain weight, which was another stressor. My self-damning logic here was even if I did get my foot healthy, I’d be too heavy to run fast.
My relationship with God was up and down. I know God is the only true constant in my life on earth, and sometimes that motivated me, but other times I got down about religion or how bad of a Christian I was being. I knew I still had it pretty good compared to the rest of the world, but that made me feel worse for being ungrateful. A cynical part of me says, “you are just experiencing moods,” or “you are overspiritualizing,this” but I know that God is real because I’ve felt his work in my life in the past, and I’ve seen it in the lives of others. Now, I could say a lot of cheesy things about journey/destination or spout out some “Peaceful Warrior” quote, but you’ve heard it all before (because it’s true).
I used to wonder how runners would get so discouraged during injuries. Why would so many wimp out and quit? Well, it’s pretty tough not knowing, facing disappointment and disappointing yourself. You guys … now I know.
This is the rock bottom truth, and I didn’t want to hide it or say I was always positive or did the right things during my injury. I let negative cycles and downward spirals embed themselves into my psyche. So, life felt messed up; I was messed up without running.
I wrote this whole entry in past tense because I wanted to indicate, “that was then, this is now,” and it’s just too freaking scary to think I’m still in this hole. But it’s not really over. I still can’t run, and I’m still learning to deal with finding motivation and validation from other places.
All I can say is that some days I wake up with an epic kind of realization, like the feeling you get when you listen to Explosions in the Sky. I haven’t been thinking of anything, drawing out some reasoned path for why I know what I know; I’ve been asleep. But I wake up knowing absolutely, innately that this is a beautiful adventure God’s laid out for me.