Today I am finally getting fitted for custom orthotics. My physical therapist swears I will run again, and soon, but I still don’t know.
Sometimes I am still surprised that I’ve managed to settle into a running-free life. It felt like agony in the beginning, but in the past couple months, things have changed. It’s not that I learned to live with it; it’s more that I learned to live in a different way.
Sure, there were some tears. There were some screams. But looking back, I have grown an incredible amount, and I’m not sure that living out a dream of running a half marathon would have taught me the same lessons:
- I discovered yoga. Running was my outlet for any and all emotions. Frustrated? Run. Angry? Run. Excited? Run. Afraid? Run. I had some of my most introspective thoughts while pounding out the miles. But with yoga, I learned to shut my brain off. I stopped focusing on my body and my emotions, and instead centered on simply being. That mental freedom is something I will treasure forever.
- I practiced patience. I followed the plans I was given, performed the strengthening exercises, stayed in when I knew I shouldn’t walk too much, rested when I was told to. I did what I should have, but my body didn’t always follow. I could never predict when I would have a good day and when I would not. I couldn’t make my own exercise plans; I couldn’t train for a race. I could, however, focus on what was happening right now. As someone who always looks to the future, this was a difficult adjustment – but it was worth it. Patience is a virtue, and appreciating each day as I live it has been a beautiful gift.
- I started eating to live, not to run. Most runners I know are a bit obsessed with food – what to eat, when to eat, how to eat it. While I think the concept of sports nutrition is a fascinating one, it has been nice to take a break from it. While running, I knew I needed to eat in order to run well (and the feeling of running while underfueled is not an enjoyable one). But without running? No longer was I eating for a purpose. I was eating because it was an enjoyable, pleasurable part of life. I’ve stopped seeing food as fuel, and I am now happy to approach it as something I love.
- I realized the mental benefits of exercise far outweigh the physical. I started seriously exercising a couple years ago in order to change my body. And suddenly, I found myself forced to rest. I was shocked to find that not only did my weight not change an ounce, but that I also didn’t care. Far more than the calorie burn, I missed the high. Each day I am able to walk, to press up into downward dog, even to zone out on the elliptical, I am grateful for the ability to do it. I’ve proven to myself that I exercise to better my soul.
So really, who knows if orthotics will be a miracle cure. But if they aren’t – I’m confident I’ll survive.
Have you ever been injured? What have you learned from it?