The morning run

A little over one year ago I felt a pain in my knee which forced me to stop running. For a while, it was even difficult to walk.

I began running again in 2009, after having taken several years away from this sport. For me, running had become drudgery. I had forgotten why I was running.

I was never a competitor, against others. I had competed against myself. My runs became more about running faster times. It was in this competition that I had lost my desire to run.

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I have always been my worst enemy, allowing the thoughts and comments of others to populate and rent space within my head. The worst part is I allowed the rental property to go unchecked for a long period of time. The renters took advantage of my absence and they completely trashed the property. When I finally admitted that it was my absence which leads to the state of disrepair, I felt too sad to do anything about it. Sadness turned into depression and depression lead to inaction. The property went unsold and was eventually taken from the market. This injury, really the first since I began running when I was 16 allowed the same process; the same cycle of degradation to happen all over again.

Several times I watched and rewatched the video “Motivation for Your Morning” from the Territory Run Company.

I fell in love with this company when I first found them on the net. Check them out. If your runs are more spiritual in nature, I think you’ll really like this company.

Anyway, as I watched the video, I began to recall what I love about running and more specifically the morning run. The feeling which arose as I watched this video, the feeling which always seems to return to me when I let go of the need to identify as a particular type of runner was beginning to make its way into that property which had for the last 15 months become dilapidated after so many months of neglect. It felt like a warm summer night sitting on my front porch and in the distance I hear the sound of music as it escapes through the speakers of a car and its open windows. The sound, as it gets nearer becomes a song which I recall with a smile. It reminds me of simpler times and of memories of runs gone by, both good and not so good. I am reminded of the time when I waited by the window for a summer rain to cease or at least abate enough, in my thoughts that it would prove to be a comfortable run. knowing this would not happen, I laced up my running shoes and completed a quick three miler with all the enjoyment of a small child opening gifts Christmas morning. It was running times such as these which allowed the weight of the world to be left behind. My thoughts instead became filled with joy as I stopped on the crest of a local bridge and waited for the sun to rise beckoning a new day; a day like a wet lump of clay on a potters wheel, which could be made by me in any form.

I also began rereading the thoughts of George Sheehan in a book which was one of the most important to me since I was 15 or 16. That book is “Running and Being.” First published in 1978. My copy remains held together with several pieces of scotch tape. I still recall making this purchase at the long-defunct Walden Bookstore. George wrote, “I am a noonday runner.” I, on the other hand, have always been a morning runner. This has been and continues to be, as an Introvert the time of day which I covet. I covet this time of day not only for the solitude which it brings but today, I run at this hour because quite frankly, I am safer during this hour. George wrote, “The best most of us can do is to be a poet an hour a day. Take an hour away from being a serious adult and become serious beginners. Take an hour away from what Shelley called a life of error, ignorance, and strife, and introduce love and beauty and delight.”

One of my favorite quote from George Sheehan’s book is this one. “I am a lonely figure when I run the roads. People wonder how far I have come, how far I have to go. They see me alone and friendless on a journey that has no visible beginning or end. I appear isolated and vulnerable, a homeless creature. It is all they can do to keep from stopping the car and asking if they can take me wherever I’m going.
I know this because I feel it myself. When I see the runner I have much the same thoughts. No matter how often I run the roads myself, I am struck by how solitary my fellow runner appears. The sight of a runner at dusk or in inclement weather makes me glad to be safe and warm in my car and headed for home. And at those times, I wonder how I can go out there myself, how I can leave the comfort and warmth and that feeling of intimacy and belonging, to do this distracted thing.
But when finally I am there, I realize it is not comfort and warmth I am leaving, not intimacy and belonging I am giving up, but the loneliness that pursues me this day and every day. I know that the real loneliness, the real isolation, the real vulnerability, begins long before I put on my running shoes.”

I have attached a link to the video I mentioned earlier. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

//content.jwplatform.com/players/mDLR0SCD-vTGW2TdI.html

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I woke with my alarm this morning. Five AM. One of my favorite times of the day. I love and live for the solitude that this time of day brings.

I have been waiting for this day for some time. With it came some fear. I could taste it like bile in the back of my throat. you know that feeling you get when you think you might throw up. I wondered if history would repeat itself. Regardless, I got my ass out of bed and accepted the challenge before me.

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I also have a healthy level of denial about my age. I’ll be 54 on August 28th. I am thankful that I don’t feel my age and have to be reminded from time to time of my age. The reminder comes in the form of aches and pains from over doing it that I didn’t have at half my age. It’s a good reminder because it keeps from pushing farther than my body is capable and thus avoiding injury. As a result of the injury, I hadn’t run since April 6th. That’s a lie. I hadn’t run since July 15th of 2016. The original pain started the day before yet I pushed through it. Instead of stopping and taking a week off, I pushed through it and returned for more the next day. When I returned home after completing a 10-miler on the 15th, I sat on my porch feeling pretty happy there was no pain. Then I got up and heard a pop in my knee. The pop was followed by pain and a tremendously difficult time even bearing weight let alone walking.

It serves me right. I had been pushing myself through runs. the thought of getting up to run was even painful although this pain being emotional in nature was easier to deny. As time passed the pain also lessened. I thought I was healing and after repeated attempts to return to running even short distances, pain followed.

I sucked it up and scheduled an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon. The diagnosis was a torn meniscus. I pushed for surgery because his original treatment plan was unacceptable. I was not going to stop running. I was not ready to stop running. Surgery followed as did my first attempt, foolishly at running within one month.

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One year has passed since I ran any distance with the exception of after my grandson or up a flight of stairs. I ran or rather walk/ran this morning. To my surprise, there was no pain. Even better, the love that I had and had lost had also returned. it feels good to be on the path to recovery.

Namaste

I’m getting there or why I didn’t listen to the voice in my head.

I haven’t written my blog for a couple of months. There has been little desire and frankly, beyond writing in my journal the thought of writing seemed more like a chore.

 
I have no good reason for not writing more. It’s not that I was too busy there just hasn’t been anything in my head that I felt like writing about. This winter has been long and as of this writing (March 26) is getting on my nerves. I’ve written in the past about my love for winter and I do, love winter but seriously; I’m about done with this season. I woke this morning to snow…again. My heart sinks when I see it. I know it sounds like whining but quite a few people who I cross paths with agree, this winter can go away.
 
I haven’t run with any consistency since the Super bowl. I ran that Sunday when I had no business doing anything other than getting up, eating breakfast, lunch and dinner and watching tv. But I did run. By mile three I wasn’t feeling it. I  thought about calling my wife for a ride but I succumbed to the voice in my head which kept uttering the word “whimp.” So I kept running. I stopped three or four more times still not feeling anything other than a strong desire to get home. I thought again about calling my wife for a ride and again the voice in my head put that idea to rest. By now there was a hitch in my stride that “felt better as I ran.” The next voice in my head kept calling me “idiot.” I knew it wasn’t good. I knew this pain would result in time off. I checked in with my body throughout the run but that voice too was overpowered by the voice in my head. I felt tense, tight and had even less rhythm than I normally have. Each stride felt forced; my body and mind arguing. My mind won.  
 
Here it is a little over two months later. A few visits to the chiropractor and massage therapist and a helluva lot of stretching and I’m finally able to run 3-miles without pain. There’s some mild discomfort which hangs around long enough to remind me to not rush back. Last year I was injured and unable to run when I arrived in Florida and the entire summer was missed. I won’t let that happen this year.
 
I ran 5K on Monday and felt really good. The run felt good, physically and emotionally. If it hadn’t been for the injury and my recovery plan, I would have gone further. It was that kind of run. I have done quite a bit of walking and have used this form of locomotion as an adjunct therapy
 
For now, I’ll keep listening to that voice in my head.

Grateful for the run

I have not been able to run consistently since the end of April. Those readers who engage in a behavior which has become a part of you will understand why this is important. It feels like a part of me is missing. Some say, “Well, it’s only running.” The runner will balk at this assessment and will ask you if you went a day without food. Running is my food, my nourishment for my soul. It is something which my body and my mind require to remain healthy and balanced.

 
I felt sorry for myself for the better part of 6-weeks. My wife woke one day and suggested, “I just go for a run.” Another couple of weeks of self-loathing and I decided I had had enough. There was not much I could do about the injury other than rest and speak with my doctor. I saw my chiropractor the previous weekend and we discussed the injury. He, unlike the assortment of other medical professionals have been willing to discuss alternative treatments. The runners in the bunch will also understand the importance of this idea. I was dismayed by his comment, “Well you know Chris, we’re all getting older. At best you might have another 5-10 years of running ahead of you. You can imagine my dismay. Reality is what it is but I find myself feeling frustrated by what I refer to as an easy way out. He completed his “adjustment” and I waited another five days before attempting a run.
 
Run #1: 1-mile. No pain at the beginning of the run. This is where the pain would begin and hopes of a run would end. The test always comes several hours later when I find pain increasing throughout the day. This day was different. Mild tightness and discomfort but nothing close to what I had become accustomed. 
 
Run #2:  2-miles. Again, no pain at the onset of the run. I waited to be tested. No pain throughout and again mild discomfort throughout the remainder of the day. Still this discomfort did not approach what I had become accustomed to experiencing.
 
I know the reality of aging. I also know i am not one to give up that easily. Most of us set goals every year regarding the races we’ll be running. My only running goal this year, other than returning to running is to run in Central Park when I return to the city for my 50th birthday at the end of August.
 
I made friends again with the elliptical. I also made friends with the underlying fear that I may never be able to run the distance I had previously enjoyed let alone run again. 
 
I am grateful to have had the opportunity to run on the treadmill and if it is true that I can no longer run, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to run.
 
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