I’m really struggling today. I know other injured athletes can relate. You’re competitive, focused, you get a real high from working out, staying on your plan, patting yourself on the back each time you mark off yet another challenging workout on your way to a big race goal, enjoying the camaraderie of your like-minded friends – and then suddenly — injury throws you to the sidelines. You’re out of the game. Watching everyone else continue on down the path to greatness. It messes with your self-esteem, your self of “who” you are since you identify so much with your sport. If no longer running – am I still a runner?!!! Am I one of them? The chitchat of upcoming races and scheduled runs makes your heart ache with longing to join in the fun, the challenge. But, you can’t. You’re just a spectator now.
You watch the calender. Day after day goes by without a single workout written on it. You don’t feel like “you” anymore. Who are you?! You know the answer is supposed to be, “Well, that’s fine because I’m also a Wife and Mother and great friend, a writer, a neighbor.. blah blah blah.” You know that’s what you’re SUPPOSED to say. You’re supposed to be fulfilled in other ways. Supposed to say, “Well, look at that! Finally some time to get to writing that great novel I’ve always meant to find the time for” or “Fantastic! I’ve been wanting to spend more time with the kids, baking cookies and making Kodak moments!” But, you know yourself too well. You’re an addict. An exercise junkie! You process your emotions as you ride, run and do your core work and yoga. You’re not like the others – the non-exercisers. You’re different. Something in your DNA makes it impossible to just go back to “how it was” before you had your first taste of endorphins. You can’t do it. Impossible. Your best memories, your favorite facebook photos all involve you and your sport and your pals who do it with you. They get it. They’re like you. Part of your tribe. Your people. You miss them terribly. You yearn for the joking, the kidding around, the gossip on the trails, the funny pictures you always take of each other.
I’m drowning in a sea of tears today. Can’t seem to stop the avalanche of emotional baggage I’ve stacked up since I last ran. It’s crushing me. I can’t breathe. I feel so alone. Other problems in my life – things that I should be able to overcome and handle – loom larger than life all of a sudden. I can’t cope with the usual stresses and problems the way I normally do — through pushing myself hard and sweating it out. My brain is working overtime – thoughts spinning wildly out of control. Friends, family members might find my reactions to simple things irrational and overblown. I can’t seem to help it, though. It’s how I am. It’s who I am. I’m a runner and I’m not running right now.
It’s been only 10 days since my accident. The pain in my back is still bad enough I’m taking a few doses of ibuprofin a day and finding myself waking in pain in the mornings. I feel like my identity has been switched and I’m really NOT liking the change.
My eyes are puffy, my shoulders slumped, my self-esteem in the toilet. Why do I need the constant pay-off that a good workout gives me? Why do I need to be surrounded by a zillion, fun-loving, athletic friends to feel good about myself? I don’t know, but it’s how it is. I’m at peace, I’m whole, I’m happy and balanced when I’m doing what I love with the people I’ve come to adore as part of my extended family.
And, I do have a great family – don’t get me wrong. It’s because they love me and support me that I’ve been able to achieve what I have in my running career and personal life. I know I’m being melodramatic. I know I’m being ridiculous and silly and emotional. It really would crush me more if something happened to any of those who I love or if my husband were to lose his job and our ability to support our family or if I found out I was facing a life-threatening illness, like my courageous, strong and beautiful friend Tami. Those are real problems and much worse than what I’m dealing with and I know that and I don’t mean to overshadow real heartache with my own selfish pity party.
I just had to express it. Get it out. In some way, shape or form purge the ugliness and YUCK from my tumultuous heart, while I sit idly by, waiting.. always waiting…. to be healed and back on the trails and roads again, alongside those who understand and will welcome me with open arms and a challenge to “push outside of my comfort level” again. I just miss it. 🙁