Running can be punishing. And grueling. And sometimes painful.
It is also exhilarating. Social. Fun. And it makes me feel like I can accomplish anything. Which is why I keep doing it.
My left foot has never properly healed from that time I tore my plantar fascia (5 years ago now?) but hey, silver lining, it doesn’t get worse, either. I made the decision in late fall of 2015 to start running again after a solid two year hiatus, save for a mile here and there. I’d missed it. I like the feeling of triumph. There’s something more satisfying about it than biking, swimming, walking and aerobics classes – which I also do, and like just fine. But I like running the best.
So. I’m running again.
To set up my juxtaposition, let me first say that one of the last times I ran in a 5K, with Susan (HI SUSAN!) was the pancake run here in Belfast. As the name suggests it’s a flat course, a fast course. Our first mile was under 7 minutes and we kicked some serious ass that day I’M NOT GONNA LIE. And I felt great.
Today, I ran four miles and it took me an hour. That’s 15 minute miles regardless if you’re doing old school math or the new fandangled math the kids these days are learning. It’s the best I can do. Really. I jog a bit, I walk a bit. If I go faster, it feels like Voldemort is aiming his wand directly into the arch of my foot and setting off lightening bolts. So I go slowly.
And here’s where the challenge comes in. I’m slow — and that’s hard for me to be okay with when I used to be pretty fast. I’ve never been competitive with anyone except myself as a runner, but I worked hard to be able to run fast, and I can’t run like that anymore. So I’m having to redefine just what it is I can do. And I’m having to be okay with it. It’s not a matter of pride. It’s not that I want to run a 7 minute mile again. It’s a matter of humility about my aging body.
I try to remind myself that I am nearly 14 years older than when I first began running. I always knew at some point I was going to have to scale it back. Well – turns out, that time is now. If I want to continue running, and I do, I have to listen to and honor what my body tells me. That’s my new goal.