I started running after my bunion operation last year. (Yes, I know – with all these sexy operations (bunions, hysterectomy), I sound like a right catch!) It was such a liberating experience to go from painful feet and hobbling along with crutches to finding that I could run for 3km, 6km, 10km. I built up the distance fairly quickly and I couldn’t believe I could run for so long. It was all about the time for me then – to be able to run for an hour seemed like an impossibility. Until I managed that. Then I wanted to run for 2 hours. If you had told me then that I would be running 45-50km a week and that I would be doing a run of 23km every week I would have laughed at you.
I ran, ran, ran. I committed to it and bought new runners, then running tights and other technical gear. Rather than go crazy over handbags or cute shoes, I was hooked on finding the right pair of running socks. I laced up, no matter what the weather, in fact I always ran better in pouring rain or snow – the more horrid the better – I would run. I would get up at 5 am in the dead of winter when I couldn’t fit in the run at any other time during the day. I would notice the approaching summer from the fact that it was getting lighter earlier during these runs. Running was my best friend, my lover and my obsession. I would go out a headcase and come back with the world looking like a better place again.
It took a while but soon I defined myself through running – and as a runner. “I am a runner”. It made me proud to say that.
So what happens when your body fails and the one thing that you feel you are good at is taken away from you? (Yes, I know, this is temporary but my last decent run was on the 12th of November. To me this was a forever ago) I feel like I am in mourning. I have lost my appetite and since I stopped running I have lost about 4kg of weight (my hard earned muscle!!). I don’t sleep well and I have become even a bigger bitch than normal. I am irritable and have no patience with the kids or the husband. I avert my gaze when I see other runners as I am so jealous. I avoid the inspiring running slogans as they make me want to scream. I go to the gym and I put everything I have into it but it doesn’t give me any sense of satisfaction or achievement. As I am on the elliptical, attacking hills, I feel like crying. I feel so defeated. Shit – I think not being able to run is making me depressed. I keep dreaming about running, the same way I used to dream about sausages when I was a vegetarian for 6 years in my crazy teens. (Not that I ever even liked sausages, still don’t – they just represented what I couldn’t have anymore).
The leg is healing very slowly. The pain remains in the same place it always did and I know I am not quite there. However – Christmas Day is my goal. In the past few years it has become my tradition to go for a run after the kids have opened their presents and I will do it again this year. It probably won’t be a long run and I will go to the track to make it easier but it will be my present to myself.
I have asked this before when I was injured and I will ask it again: what is a runner who can’t run? I think I have the answer now: