Thursday, June 16, 2011

What a difference a couple of years make...

So I am injured.  Kind of serves me right thinking I can take "trail" on and not give her respect; she is a fickle mistress. Boy, did she whoop me... I still love her though.

I am still unsure what the situation is with my knee.  The swelling has pretty much died down, but as the physiotherapist moves and pulls, it is apparent there is SOMETHING going on.  I have an orthopeadic appointment next week but what they say and what my outcome is, I can't hazard to guess.  As I sit here in my knee brace, drinking coffee with my leg proped up, I think, I will be up and running in no time.  However, once the painkillers die off or if my knee twists I am suddenly reminded, that... ummm... maybe I won't.

This kind of uncertainty has lead me to examine what is my next course of action and how I would feel if I had more bad news than good.  In thinking about the next few months I have discovered aspects of myself and my life which are as welcomed as they are surprising.

I have been in this situation before.  Over two years ago I was in a leg cast, but in a completely different place mentally.  I was a new runner and I had just been told that perhaps it wasn't a good thing that I was running because no-one get's stress fractures in their heel from running 10 miles a week.  I was structurally NOT able to run.  Try Swimming instead.

Last time I was in a cast I was also in a state of depression.  My Son wasn't coping well with school and had to be removed and I couldn't understand why. I felt isolated as my family was far away and my social group was so small.  My husband was busy with work and then to cap it all, my only outlet for any physical release had been taken away from me.  I literally felt as if my world had ended.

As people may know from me, you never say "Don't" to me.  If you tell me I can't do something then I will go all out and prove you wrong.  It's a trait I am quite proud of -as I found out after taking 3 courses of applied economic statistics in college after only taking intermediate maths in high school.  It is a trait I wish my 6 year old hadn't inherited.  I am now beginning to realise why my parent's used to do a LOT of "counting to 10" when I was a kid.

So I went out and I came across barefoot running and decided that I wouldn't lose anything by trying it out.  What I gained was so much more than the ability to run again.  That summer of hanging out in the Runners World on-line forum forged virtual friendships that are as important to me as the ones I have in real-life.  The kooky crowd of mis-fits helped me in more ways than just finding a way to run.

I am marvelling about how 2 years of barefoot running and hanging out with the right crowd has altered how I feel about my mishap.  

I am probably seen more as a runner now than I ever was 2 years ago. In fact the ER doctor even said "athlete".  I am quite glad I wasn't drinking coffee at the time because he would have been showered with it. I know he was being nice, but really? I did have to chuckle, I barely count myself as a runner.  Running IS more of my life than it was last time I was injured.  I have more to lose this time. Shouldn't I be more concerned about my outcome? Because frankly I'm not.

What I have learnt over the last couple of years has taught me that with every setback there are infinite possibilities.  Barefoot running has taught me to embrace everything; embrace the challenges, embrace every opportunity presented to you. Embrace the comments and strange looks, embrace the new and different. Barefoot running has shown me that patience and looking inside yourself has more rewards and benefits than looking to others or tools.  Others will not solve your problems. You have it within yourself to overcome everything life sets before you.

I have also learnt NOT to take myself or life too seriously.  My running lately has not been about goals and times, but about having fun - running smiley.  Does it mean that because running is not part of my life at the moment, that I still can't do this.  Of course not Running smiley is just an extension of living smiley.  I enjoy running for what it is not what I can get out of it.  I enjoy life for what it is and not the arbitary measures people usually assign to life; job description, pay, bonuses, houses, cars, gadgets. I can hop with a smile on my face just as easily as I can run.

I am also aware that things in life happen for a reason.  As it was mentioned in the Steve Jobs speech which Jason Robillard posted a while back.  Life is a series of dots (connections) we just have to accept that they WILL join up, even if we can't see it now.  I know there is a reason for where I am at the moment sporting a very cute, grey leg brace with  black velcro strap accents; just because i can't see that reason, doesn't mean I should negate it.  

I suppose I just find it ironic, that when I saw running as a tool to feeling better - when I was running less but relying on it MORE - a little setback felt like 'world's end".  However, now as I am older (it happens to us all) and supposedly wiser, that running although it is more a part of who am I, is less of a crutch (crutch get it?  Hardy Har har).  A setback is just an interesting problem I have to sort out.  Running won't fix my problems; it is not a magic trick I pull out to make my life perfect. I fix my problems; running is a just a part of me.  I can't see the dots at the moment, but I know that one of the dots out there is Running and I will somehow get there.  I am just happy to go with the flow and let life take me there.


  1. This is beautifully written (as always) and really is what life is all about. It's meant to be embraced in good times and bad. The dots will connect and we just have to trust that we can't see the whole picture right now. I hope you get some answers and find what you're supposed to be doing in the meantime!

  2. A good post. I like your line about how "running won't fix my problems; it is not a magic trick I pull out to make my life perfect". I've been prone to hoping that running would fix my problems before, and thus when I couldn't run I was disgusted with myself and stressed out.

    I'm not like that anymore. Life is a long road and running is just part of it. Pain and setbacks tend to be life's way of telling us not to do something, like pain in our hands tells us not to put them too close to the fire. We can get frustrated about them, or we can try and figure out what we are doing wrong and learn from the experience.

  3. Kate you hit the nail on the head, don't tell a Holden they can't do something and they will go all out to prove them wrong.
    I'm sorry about your knee, but look on the bright side, you still have two legs. I was never a runner but I get by you just find a different way to do things.

  4. I'm so glad to read about your optimism. I have learned many of the same things you learned from running barefoot. I started after knee surgery and reading Born to Run. I got so much more out of barefooting it than just the ability to run. It put me more in touch with myself and my environment. It changed how I eat (no more meat). It changed how I think.

    Know that you are not alone. I hope you heal well. Walk as much as you can in bare feet. There's joy in feeling the ground with your toes and knowing you are connected to your world.

  5. Hang in there. I'm coming off of nearly a year of no running after a non-running related injury left me with a femoral neck fracture, and ultimately three sturdy screws to hold the bone together. It's been a long recovery, but one that matches what you spoke about in this post. Running, in combination with my recovery, has given me a sense of patience that I've never had in my 39 years. Hopefully your recovery will be shorter, but know that this experience has things to teach you as well. It's all good. And trust me, when you DO get back out on the trails, it feels GLORIOUS! :)