Out of action

I’m out of action at the moment. It’s making me quite sad.

The leg pains that I have suffered with since Christmas struck with a vengence after crossing the finish line in Berlin and I am currently running with a limp. I had two weeks of complete rest before trying out a gentle 5K parkrun last saturday, a gentle walk/jog with my (newly running) flatmate in the week, and a short jog on the treadmill last night, but all of them have been uncomfortable.

Not being able to run is making me sad for a few different reasons. Firstly, I just miss it. I made a conscious decision this year to integrate running into my everyday life and routine, and so it feels strange not to run. It feels like I have forgotten to do something really important and it’s very unsettling! I miss jogging at lunchtime in Regents park. I miss planning my long weekend route. I miss my running club. I miss all of it…

The second reason I feel sad is because I have running plans for the summer and I am worried that they will no longer happen. I managed to get a place in my running club’s team for the Welsh Castles Relay: a 200+ mile relay split into 20 stages, run over two days with camping in between – it was going to be awesome. The race is in 6 weeks though, so I think I am going to have to pull out and give the place to someone else… My other summer running goal was to run the Down Tow Up Flow half marathon faster than last year’s 2:08:16 (I want to prove that red heads can run in the summer heat). The course is incredibly beautiful, the race is small and impecably organised, and it makes a lovely summer day out. The thought that I may not be fit enough to run it is terrifying.

The third reason that not running is making me sad though is that over the last couple of years it has become a very special and necessary time for me to empty my mind of other thoughts, let off some steam, and prepare my body for other tasks. Some people seem to think that running doesn’t require much thinking, and they suggest that runners use that time to make shopping lists or think about what to do on the weekend. But the reality is that most running requires a lot of concentration and the only thoughts swimming around in your head involve finishing your reps, keeping your posture, and breathing.Β  Once I’ve finished running my mind is nice and clear and my perspective on the world seems restored. I have recently been offered some very exciting research opportunities, but without running to help me ‘switch off’ from my day job I’m finding it difficult to settle into my own work in the evenings.

However, I refuse to be glum, and I refuse to worry about it too much. Pushing myself when I am obviously still in pain is a ridiculous idea, and so I have been going to pilates at my gym and cycling instead, and I will try another very gentle parkrun again this weekend. It sucks that I can’t do something that I have grown to love in the way that I am used to, but I realised a while ago that I am not running to just train for a one-off race, or to lose a few pounds – I am running because it has become a part of my life and a part of who I am. I plan on doing it for as long as my legs will let me, so what’s a few more weeks of rest in the greater scheme of things, eh?

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