Sunday, 26 January 2014

How to be injured

Knitting needles - the new cross-training

I haven't run for a week and a half. This might not seem long (because it is not really long) - however, injuries have a different type of time, more similar to dog-years. So, in injury terms, sanity terms, and general melodramaticness, I have been not running the equivalent of 8 weeks at least.

I am lucky enough to be able to swim and do some easy stationary biking. I am not lucky enough to know what the hell is going on with my ankle (though I am still trying to find out). There has been huge silver lining in that I have an amazing physio and equally amazing friends who have volunteered to brave the pool with me. I have also had a couple insights as a result of too much time thinking and not as much time sweating.

I have no actual hobbies
I have friends who are amazing knitters and sewers. I have friends who grow vegetables and raise livestock. I have friends who make pottery. I have friends who volunteer for political causes or things they believe in. I do none of these things. I tried to list my hobbies for Lucy: I run, I write about running (or general running-related neuroses), I read about running, I cook so I have food to eat after running, I enjoy music so I have songs to listen to while running. This all works great when I am training 10-15hours a week. When I am not training as much, it means that I end up at 11am on a Sunday, workout already done, chores done, vibrating with energy and generally being obnoxious. (Partly out of self preservation, I think, Lucy is going to teach me how to knit).

What I see as being competitive other people see as being an asshole
In racing and training, it is helpful to have a single-minded and competitive focus - that desire to win. Outside of running, it is somewhat less healthy. The person who tries to win the grocery line-up, the getting-on-the-bus-first, the going down the escalator is not a staunch competitor. That person is an asshole.

I am trying to find a healthy outlet for my competitive urges. So far, trying to win my job has been going pretty well: things get finished ahead of deadlines, and the "other" section on my to-do list goes down. The side effects of drinking more with accountants are entirely manageable, even enjoyable. Trying to win at cross-training is going somewhat less well (athletic cross-training - my co-workers inform me that they cross-train by drinking both beer and liquor).

The West Vancouver community centre at 6am on weekdays on a stationary bike involves not offending the 70 year olds surrounding me (if I switch to a spin bike I would likely get rocked by the 2 very fit and sweaty guys in their young 50s). Swimming...thank god I really enjoy swimming (and will soon have the large upper body to prove it). The main issue with swimming is not doing it so much that I incur another new and exciting injury. My competition so far has been: the people breast-stroking in the medium lane (they passed me), the 7am youth swim team in the next lane (they passed me while doing kicking-only), the pool runners in the "recreational" lane (I passed them, but it might not be a fair competition).

My ankle is part of me and also deserves love
This part is actually from Ramsey, but I am trying hard to embrace it. Seeing Ramsey on Wednesday, I pointed at my ankle: "It hurts. I hate it." I was gently reminded my ankle is part of me, so any annoyance towards the ankle is actually annoyance at myself. This has at least prevented me from nicknaming the left ankle "Frankenfoot" after getting inconclusive X-Ray results. As additional self-love, I got a pedicure, as I will likely not be beating the crap out of my toenails for a while (but I got the nails painted dark purple, so if I miraculously can run soon, the polish will match the colour of my dying toenails).

Normal-people life
Three years ago, I swam three times a week, biked once or twice a week, did some weights, and ran a couple times a week. That was my normal exercise. I was in a relationship, I went for drinks with friends, my weekends had non-running trips, wandering on Commercial Drive, laying around reading, watching TV, family dinners. It was nice, and comfortable.

Part of me wishes that was a type of life I could slip back into - to be content getting what is actually a healthy and completely normal amount of exercise, to be balanced. To dress up (even with heels), go out for drinks, go to a movie, get in my hour of working out, and be happy. Sometimes I wish I wasn't the type of person that feels most alive after running hard for an hour an half by 7am. The type of person who wants to get out, for hours, and go hard, to climb up something, to suffer a bit or a lot. As much as I want normal, I fail at normal.

I don't want it to be easy
I have friends who have stories about living in the woods under a tarp when younger, of hitchhiking up to the Yukon on a whim, of driving to the Okanagan with no cash and a breaking down car. Stories about what having nothing, and building from there. About the confidence that comes with being in a hard situation - no roof, no money, no job - and making it out okay. About bringing that certainty to the rest of their lives, that deep trust in their ability to be okay when things aren't actually okay.

I've never quit 12th grade to hitchhike across Canada (like my Dad did in 1967). I've never traveled with an open ticket and no return date. I've always had a job, always had savings, always been comfortable. I think there's a part in me, the part that wants to run and run and run, that is looking for something harder, something to beat up my body and grow teeth in my mind.

There are runs I have done that were hard - really hard. Where there were far too few highs and so many lows. I remember the Sunday after running Juan de Fuca - my first 10hr run. We stopped off on the drive back to walk along a beach. It was bright cloud, the sun trying to break through. I struggled to walk in the wet sand, looking out on the flat ocean. There were no endorphins, it was the opposite of endorphins - I felt empty, with tears ready to come at any moment.  I felt like that for a couple days after - going to beautiful places is wonderful, but it can be difficult for me to come back to real life. There is part of me that is always searching, scratching, and striving. There is the part that doesn't even want to slip back into a normal life, doesn't want it to be that easy. The part that wants to face something down, to come out on the other side, to have the peace that going to a scary place and making it out brings. So the next couple months are finding an uneasy truce between swimming, and biking, and enjoying the good parts of life - but still keeping the fire going for the next adventure.


  1. Dude. Buy some boardgames. Hashtag mostobviousnonathleticcompetitionever.

    Also, start #100happydays ( It will at least force you to think about something everyday that makes you happy, given that it can't be running because you're not running. You should really, really do it. With me!

  2. Girl -- I feel your pain. I have a friend who's teaching me to spin (like with a spinning wheel and sheep's hair) for the same reason. No hobbies. What to do when I can't run???