On The Run: Back from the dead
For the first time in a long time, I am really sore. Muscle soreness, that is. Walking up stairs, climbing in and out of my truck, even just bending over to tie my shoes – my last workout haunts me. Did I run an ultra marathon, swim to South Shore or climb El Capitan?
No. I ran three miles.
A mere three mile run totally exhausted me earlier this week, and I still have tight hamstrings to prove it.
After four months of recovering from knee surgery and two months before that of limping around, I was chomping at the bit to lace up my shoes and hit the road. (Of course now and forever that road will be soft dirt only, no pavement for these knees.)
While I was thrilled to get out running after my longest hiatus from the sport in over 10 years, it was somewhat bittersweet. The last race I ran pre-operation was the Chicago Marathon, and here I am today reveling in completing a 5K. I know I should be grateful for the miracle of modern medicine and the fact that I am running at all, but it doesn’t help my ego any when I am clocking in a speedy 9-minute mile pace.
One thing that runners by nature are not, is patient. We like to get up and go, have lots of pent-up energy and are usually those neighbors that everyone looks at in disbelief as we head out for a jog in three feet of fresh morning powder. Surgery has changed all of that for me.
Now I savor those extra minutes in bed in the morning. I eat whatever I want for breakfast because I am not thinking about how it will digest five miles down the road. I go to bed later and eat that second bowl of ice cream. All of these things have been great revelations for me.
Perhaps more importantly, I have learned the beauty of cross training. Like many runners, I used to feel somehow cheated from any workout that did not involve running. Since injuring my knee last winter, I have discovered the wonders of yoga, the thrill and challenge that my mountain bike can bring and how relaxing a long walk with the dogs can be.
Over the next few months as I learn to crawl, stand and walk again in my running progress, I am going to try and keep this new philosophy in the back of my mind. If I don’t feel like running, I just won’t go. When the opportunity presents itself, I will go swimming in the lake instead of sweating in the sun as I push to run a few more miles. I will listen to my body more, and know when to slow down or take a few days off. I won’t run every day, but rather take a day off in between knee poundings.
After five months away from my greatest source of guidance, solace, strength and confidence, me and running are slowly working to rebuild a rapport. However, I have come to the shocking realization that I can live without running; a notion that seemed utterly impossible less than one year ago.
Sitting here, writing this in my state of soreness, I have to say it feels great. It felt even better to work up a sweat as I slowly jogged through mile 1, 2 and 3. I will probably get out again today and try to go a little bit further. But, like I said; I can live without running all the time.
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