Two weeks and one day ago, I sprained my ankle. I have spent the time since in full rehab mode, first resting, then stretching, then strengthening. It helped to have a race goal to focus on – the Salomon Trail Series Silvan 21k Trail Race on 25 August.
Today, I managed to run for twenty minutes on the treadmill, pain-free. I ran in my monster feet (Vibram Five Fingers), and was conscious of each step. So conscious in fact, that I changed treadmills three times before I settled (like Goldilocks – this one is too angly; this one has a toe-catching hole in the belt; this one is Just Right). I wondered what the other people in the gym thought of me (nothing – no one in a gym notices much except themselves).
So I began. I put the treadmill on 5 km/hour, then jumped it to 8, 9, 10. Ten was as far as I got on Friday before the ache began in my ankle, and I was forced to walk again. Today, it didn’t ache. I pushed up .2 every minute, until I hit 11. Eleven is my usual recovery pace when I do interval training – I was thrilled to be there again. I held it at 11 for a minute, then cautiously, testing, pushed it up to 11.2, stayed there for 2 minutes, then 11.4. Ah, delight; it did not hurt. Bon Jovi, my running partner of many a treadmill session, was with me, an old friend, singing all my favorites, lifting my feet for me. I was cautious though, acutely aware that a mis-step would be deadly. When I hit twenty minutes, I noticed I’d also covered 3.45 km, so of course, had to keep going until I hit 3.5. Because I am ready to start adding up the km’s again.
Did it feel good? It felt scary. Knowing what running means to me (freedom; power; the opposite of depression), I was afraid to hurt myself by doing too much too soon. It is a fine line between recovery and re-injury. Thankfully, I did not cross it today. The stability work I’ve been doing (eccentric Achilles work; standing on a dura-disk on one foot with my eyes closed; ballet-toe walking back-and-forth across my office) has been paying off.
You might rightfully ask, why all this focus on running? In the two weeks I have been unable to run, I have found I can be peaceful without it, but I think this peace is mainly because I still have a goal – recovery. And peaceful is one thing; inspired, elated, joyful, well, that’s entirely different. I only get there through fast runs on solitary trails, and God, I have missed it.
In the meantime, I have used the extra time to get a new host for my website, to finally get my PayPal system working, and to figure out how to put photos of my books and a way for people to buy them on my blog (because my website designer told me he didn’t know I had written any books, and that the header on my blog looked just like a pretty picture – duh, that should have occurred to me). The thing is, I am against the hard-sell, the “buy now, last in stock” stuff. I don’t want to hit people over the head with the fact that I’ve written a couple of books, though it would be nice to sell some. My goal is to inspire, through my writing, through my coaching, through media work when it comes my way.
And anyway, last week, I was nearly frightened into silence by a mean-spirited post on Facebook about how narcissistic everyone is, how much of what we write is of little interest to anyone but ourselves. What an effective way to silence voices. It made me pause; made me quiet for a day or so. I won’t reprint the post here; I don’t want to give it more airspace. Because I don’t want to contribute to silencing a single voice. Here’s what I thought later. The people who climb Mount Everest, who cross the ocean in a one-person boat, who trek across the desert for charity – they are inspiring, for sure. But sometimes these things are so out of reach to the average person, it doesn’t inspire them, they just think of the others as superhuman, and turn the page, and don’t do anything themselves. To read about a single dad’s first attempt at a 10k; a person overcoming the challenge that to most would seem rather un-extraordinary, but to that person is an Everest. That is what inspires me. So please keep writing – we need to know that normal people can do things beyond their own comfort zones, so we will too.
I have yet to decide if I’ll make it to my race goal in thirteen days time. In some ways, it seems dumb to attempt it. But I won’t make that call yet. Because many things I have done in the last ten years have seemed out of reach, until I went for them. Here’s the race profile – it looks similar but easier than my usual weekly 21k, but I’ve not been out there for a month.
In the meantime, I am aiming for my first twenty km week this week, after two weeks of notching up 0 and 3 kms. Little steps; baby steps. Soon, I will be running. And the lows on the roller coaster of life won’t seem so low then.
And the highs? On the highs I can see forever.