Every now and again I am hit by the futility of running. Sometimes the smallest things can set me off during a long run; someone runs past me, a driver honks at me or I see people sitting in the park enjoying the sunshine. It can really be anything. And as I am running, a feeling of udder despair suddenly comes over me – “Why are you doing this? What good is this run going to do to you? Why don’t you just stop. Yeah, just stop and go home”. (It’s all very “They shoot horses, don’t they” in my head during one of these attacks – in fact, you could draw so many parallels between that and my long runs) I never do stop but I have to fight the feeling off like it was a blood sucking vampire trying to drain my life power. I know it is just my tired body using another ploy to protect itself – fingers in my ears, la la la.
Then there is the large scale futility – I run, run, run, run. I do hills, intervals, long runs and get myself fit. I feel on top of the world and unbeatable. My heart sings as my legs fly over the pavement. And then I get injured (I always do). And yet I run, run, run, run but instead of making me fitter it makes me poorly and puts me in pain. I am not the queen of the pavements anymore or a warrior of the asphalt jungle but a crippled weakling. I tell myself that I need my “mental health runs” or I will go crazy when I should really take a step back and look at what I am doing running with an injury because THAT is crazy.
I did my 22km run on Saturday and managed to twist my foot – just to add to the shin pain.. And as I was icing my foot my husband said something that I am sure he meant as a flippant fly-away comment – “maybe your body isn’t made to sustain the stresses of running”.
(turning blue from held breath)
…”Don’t be stupid. Of course it is. Everybody’s body – every body – is. Mine is anyway. Definitely. I just need to learn to run properly as I am obviously doing something wrong.. Right?…”
The thing is, if I was reading someone else complaining about their running injuries and keeping on running anyway I would think they were stupid. And annoying. It is so obvious that all you need to do is take some time off to let your body heal – people keep telling you that so why won’t you listen?? I blame the runner’s mind – you train yourself to ignore the pain, to keep on going long after you wanted to stop. Your mind is your strongest weapon when you are doing a long run; the thing that pushes you on when you are falling over yourself with tiredness. So it’s not really that surprising that it becomes too hard to distinguish between the Weakling Mind and the Sensible Mind. I refuse to believe my body isn’t made for running – I just need to retrain my mind to support it rather than to work against it. My body and my mind need to work as a team rather than competitors. I think that might be the winning formula to running that isn’t so futile. I think it is time to evolve.