If you’d asked me six months ago if I could find any joy in not being able to run, I would have said no.
I would have been wrong.
I’ve been injured since the end of February. I’ve run a mile or two every so often since then, but every time I’ve tried, my ankle has told me to back off. As frustrating as it has been not to be able to do one of the things I love best, it hasn’t been horrible. In fact, there has been way more joy over the last six months than I would have imagined.
No Running = No races = No pressure.
Not being able to run means not being able to sign up for races, and as much as I love the fact that that’s what gets me up at ridiculous o’clock to squeeze in a workout, it’s also been a bit of a relief to take the pressure off. If the baby is up in the middle of the night and I need the extra hour to sleep (or drowse, since let’s face it, there’s no sleeping when your 3 year old is yelling for breakfast, and while we’re on the topic, maybe I should just keep a box of granola bars in her room?), I can do it without fearing that my world is going to hell in a handbasket, or plotting the precise moment the kids are in their beds so I can get my workout started at the dreadful hour of 7:30pm.
No Running = Other workouts!
There are, it turns out, a million ways to break a sweat and decompress mentally without running! I’ve been swimming at our local 50-meter outdoor pool (which I cannot believe I’ve never used until now, considering this marks my eighth summer in Boulder). This spring, I did a fun outdoor bootcamp class twice a week. I’ve also been… walking. Up to now, I’ve enjoyed walking only as a means of transportation, a way to spend time with a friend, or as a pregnancy workout. I am not sure what changed, but I am finding that walking works for me as an occasional form of exercise. I don’t like to listen to music or a podcast while I walk. I just walk. When I was visiting my family back east, my sister let me use her YMCA guest passes, where I enjoyed Body Pump and Zumba.
No Running = Biking!
I totally believe that whenever a door closes, another one opens… Not being able to run has gotten me back on my bike, and I am loving it. We got a gently used double Burley trailer on Craigslist and I have been biking the girls nearly everywhere we go. At first, it was daunting, considering Lady Bug doesn’t walk yet, and as roomy as the Burley is, there is no room for a stroller. Plus, getting everyone out the door involves not just the requisite shoe finding, diaper changing, snack packing, hair brushing, and potty reminding, but also the donning and buckling of helmets, remembering the U-lock, attaching the Burley securely to the bike, and allowing extra time for the bike ride as opposed to a car ride. However, once I got used to it, it became the new normal.
As an added bonus, there is no more efficient workout than schlepping two children by bike. Also, there is no greater mental challenge than biking uphill on a hot day towing a screaming baby who wants nothing to do with her helmet (which is non-negotiable), and a toddler who has just informed you that she has to go potty, NOW.
All this biking has inspired me to sign up for a biking event, an all-women’s metric century (62 mile) ride, at the end of this month. As much as I love spontaneity (see #1), I thrive on having a specific goal to focus on. I know I have the fitness to do the ride, but I need to get my body used to spending all that time in the saddle. With that in mind, I was up and out the door well before 6am the other day. I came home at 7:30 feeling refreshed, having watched the sky change from blue-pink to bright blue to light blue, and wondering why I don’t hop on my bike for a ride in solitude every single morning.
No Running = Motivation to Fix Running Problems
Ok, physical therapy is not exactly joyful, but it’s necessary and I am hopeful it’s going to put me in a position to run way more efficiently than I ever have before, once I’m ready again.
Gait analysis was something that was always on my list of things to do, but it was at the same priority level as deep cleaning the oven and reorganizing my sewing area, eg)not happening in the foreseeable future. Besides, I thought, if it wasn’t broken why fix it. As long as I was training, my run times were improving. That is, until it hurt too much to run at all.
I’m thinking my issues have been brewing for a long time, and my body was able to compensate until it finally gave out. I’ve been going to physical therapy for a few months to address my issues and it has been enlightening, to say the least. First, I learned that my single legged squat is downright ugly. Considering that that one movement is the basic foundation of running, that fact alone is No Bueno (not a clinical term). Meanwhile, a detailed video gait analysis revealed that my run form is seriously lacking. I had no idea what I actually looked like when I ran, up until now. I have no idea how long it will take to un-learn the bad habits that got me to this point, but I am working on it, one glute-burning, hip-engaging exercise at a time.
What about you? Have you been injured and unable to do the workout(s) that you love? What helped you cope?? What unexpected joy did you find in the experience?