I am a passionate runner. After thirteen years of training, ups, downs and all the good that comes with it, that is part of my identity. It’s not because I’m fast or because I win races. It’s not and I don’t! It’s just that running gives me a reason to do something better every day, connects me to a community of wonderful people and even inspired me to create a nonprofit that helped young people a few years ago. For all of it, I am beyond grateful.
After my first marathon in three years in October and a half marathon In November with not much rest in between, I really pushed the envelope – two back to back hard and fast (for me) 11 milers and a 5k in between in four days. The result: I’ve been diagnosed as having a herniated disc or disc bulge.
I’m embarrassed to say that my first reaction was “Why me?” I’m not proud of it. But after coming back to running late last year after cardiac/heart-related issues, I felt like I deserved a break. But as they say, we plan and someone up there laughs! More importantly, this is – as they say in politics – a “nothingburger” compared to the suffering and challenges experienced by others in many avenues of life.
After some processing, a bit of whining (to my very kind wife), and a good bit of reading about treatment, I feel like I am onto a positive path. Running doesn’t define me – it’s simply something that I’ve come to value. And, as it has so many times over these past years, this running experience has taught me valuable lessons that apply to other areas of life:
Start Where You Are: I was initially in denial about what this could be. I told myself it was just general soreness after a few really hard runs. After doing the right thing thanks to friends at Cardiac Athletes – ensuring that it wasn’t cardiac/heart related – I accepted that this is my reality. It may be different tomorrow, next week or next year but embrace where you are and look at your options.
Don’t look backward: I was angry at myself for pushing myself the way I did. But there’s no point in looking backward – it can’t change the present. While we can learn from history, there’s equal if not more value in looking forward.
Find the Opportunity: The fun part came when I started thinking of how I could make the best of this situation. I started looking closer at the Galloway Run/Walk method and with the approval of my physical therapist have started back slowly using that approach. It’s also opened the door to me being a more focused cyclist once my back will allow it. And as a back-up, I even started reading about power walking and race walking. Both offer lower impact opportunities to remain part of the race community which I enjoy.
Seize it: After doing some research on options i.e. PT, surgery etc. I’ve found a good specialist, I’m working with him and doing exercises at home. The slow down even created an opportunity for me to listen and learn. My daughter had been urging me to listen to podcasts during my runs but I love upbeat music during my workouts. Since my therapist has encouraged me to do some walking on alternate days as part of the healing process, I’ve been enjoying listening to some of my favorite coaches and leaders as I do these walks.
Share it: That’s what I’m doing here. If what I’ve written helps, I’m glad and grateful