running – noun | \ˈrəniŋ\
: the activity or sport of running
: the activity of managing or operating something
Recently, I decided to start running again. Since I was in elementary school, I’ve been an occasional runner. I am one of those strange people who actually like running, and in each season of life, in every location I’ve lived, sooner or later I start running again.
And then I stop.
I never can predict when exactly I’ll stop running. Or why. Often it’s because life gets in the way, and after deciding not to run for a few days, I’m just out of the habit. I usually don’t quit exercising altogether. I might ride my bike, or as is usually the case, just walk. Walking covers a much larger range on the “light” side of exercising, and that’s usually what I need when I first start up again. But eventually, I make it back to running.
I was running a year ago. Not a lot, but I was in good enough shape to pick up and run a couple of miles once or twice a week, with walking or bicycling in between. And then Steve’s knee injury just after Christmas put us all into survival mode. Plus it was winter, and exercising outside didn’t really feel like an option. Then, I got the flu, that lasted for about four weeks.
Sometime around the end of May, Steve’s knee had healed enough for regular walking, and I recommitted myself to walking with him. After several weeks of walking, though, I once again got the urge to start running. So, a few weeks ago, I invested a couple of dollars in an iPhone app that promised to get me from couch to 5k in nine weeks.
In the past, I’ve never needed an app to help me start running again. But I’ve also never been 45 and attempting to get into running shape. I’m not too old to start over, but I do have to take it a little slower. And I have to be more mindful of injuries.
Which leads me to the icepack on my knee. I’ve been flat-footed my whole life. And even though a doctor warned me in high school that flat feet would put a damper on my running ambitions, I basically ignored him. Running was the only sport I was even decent at. But as I’ve gotten older, the doctor’s warning has come back to haunt me. My flat feet cause soreness in my back, hips, and knees when I run. Good shoes help. So when I started “wogging,” as one friend called it (jogging + walking), a couple of weeks ago and felt the tell-tale achiness, I knew I’d have to get new trainers. But I couldn’t get them right away and kept on running anyway.
So now, the pain in my knee? Well, now it won’t go away. Even when I’m resting. It’s not bad enough to go to the doctor, but the pain has propelled me to explore what might be causing it and how I might help it heal and avoid it in the future. I’m icing and taking anti-inflammatories. Both help. I’ve found some stretches and strength exercises that I’ll try.
I’m resting, too, which means I’m not running this week like I planned, and my couch to 5k may take me 12 weeks instead of 9.
The bigger issue for me is whether this is a sign that my running days are over. That it’s finally time to heed the doctor’s warning and give up the habit. It’s hard to imagine life without running, or at least the possibility of running.
“Prematurely giving up is a huge problem,” writes Seth Godin. “A more draining problem is not knowing when to quit.”
He may be writing about creative projects, but surely that wisdom applies to my running dilemma as well. At some point, my running days will be over. But is now the time? Or is this an opportunity to adapt, grow stronger, and find a better way? And most importantly, how will I decide?
What have you had to give up? What criteria did you use to convince yourself it was time?
What’s YOUR word of the week? Drop it into the comments section, or share it on this week’s Facebook post. If you post about your word on your blog, please slip the link into a comment below so I can stop by and join you.
Definitions of my word of the week are from Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online.