Pushing Ahead

Progress is slow. No different than building fitness through running, progress is slow with incremental changes, and sometimes feeling as if I’ve taken two steps back instead of forward. But overall, when I step back and think about how I was feeling two weeks ago, I’m definitely making progress. 

Granted, my days still consist of spending the first half in bed, letting the pain pills smother the discomfort from the night before while I binge on Netflix and try to get various design projects completed or fulfill coaching obligations. By the time Laura gets home, however, I’m ready to get out of bed, out of the house, and just feel the world outside. This consists primarily of walks around downtown, getting a coffee, and generally just being out. The problem is, these moments of physical relief get into my head, pressing me to do more. I start debating getting on the treadmill for brisk walking, sometimes even entertaining the idea of jogging for short stints. Then I remember I still have a stomach full of staples, can’t stand upright, and am still breathing through compromised breaths. As much as I want to be, I’m just still not ready. Which should be obvious. 

I’m reminded that I’m not ready each successive morning when I struggle to get out of bed without wincing in pain, hunched over considerably and taking gentle steps around the house. That’s when I take my pills to smother the pain and start the process over again. 

Still, I’m doing well. I have the memories of last year’s experience for comparison sake, and when held up to that timeline, I’m well on my way to where I want to be again. But runners are, if nothing else, impatient. The drive to run is so strong it overrides all common sense, so we tell ourselves things are great when they obviously aren’t. We run on injuries. We run through increasing pains. The second an injury starts to get better, we tell ourselves everything is PERFECT. It’s like breaking our leg, but once the cast gets put on, we assume that is the fix and we’re ready to go, instead of waiting for the appropriate healing time. And this situation is no different. I still look ahead to running again, and my impatience gets the best of me. Right now, however, the situation is bad enough that I couldn’t put in any effort even if I deluded myself into it. I’m being saved from myself at this point. 

So I’m still sitting in bed, binge watching Netflix, waiting for incremental changes in my body and getting me back to, at least, a base level of functioning. I’m still in the process of waiting it out. And as in running, again, there will undoubtedly be a point where I can get back to it again and the muscle memory and emotional experience of it all will take over again. That, right now, is where I’m headed, is my only goal. I have no race plans. No times to beat. No deadline for recovery. I’m just waiting for that moment the body heals and I can get back to running, consistently, powerfully and without restriction. I’m waiting for the period of healing to pass, to get me back to the starting line. It’s, admittedly, a little weird accepting that my current running ambition is to just run, where before it was to break PR’s, quality for the Trials, or some other lofty goal, but we always work in the context of our situation. And right now, my context leaves me no choice but to accept the smallest of victories, that I can only hope will continue to grow into greater ambitions and more prominent victories.

Today I still lie in bed, my running slate wiped clean, but outside my door the streets and trails remain unchanged, as they will be when I am able to run on them again. In small ways I keep pushing ahead, as it’s all I can do, hoping the context changes and running again happens sooner rather than later. 

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4 responses to “Pushing Ahead

  1. Completely agree progress is slow, and especially for runners this is a concept that is hard to grasp. Yeah, the desire to run is so strong it compels us to over-do it. Sometimes we get lucky and are able to push our limits quickly without the requisite build-up phase and maybe momentarily grasp a PR or two. But soon enough our bodies shout “enough!” and they breakdown and we are forced not to run. When we are finally able to we have to start from scratch again and the cycle continues if we don’t learn to have some restraint. Anyway, keep pushing ahead and may your small victories today turn into much greater ones tomorrow.

    • Exactly Pete…I’m only fortunate that my body is saving me from myself…regardless, this isn’t forever (it never is) and we’re always able to get back out there again. Take care.

  2. Running with some guys yesterday, one asked another what he was training for. “To be able to put on my shoes every morning, and come back an hour or two later feeling pleasantly spent,” was his reply. Which pretty much nails it, I think.

    • When we strip away all our temporary, egotistical, lofty goals…this truly is what remains, and I think will make it’s way to the forefront as we age and our speed diminishes. 🙂

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