I snorted; it was a perfect storm. It was school holidays – long before we could consider them drawing to a close; I hadn’t been able to run due to injury; we’d had four back-to-back days of 40 degree plus weather, meaning no exercise at all was possible; I had a chest infection that was making me cough and cough; the kids were bouncing off the walls and each other; and we were making lunch together in our too-small kitchen.
I stepped away from the counter space where my husband was working – where I wanted to be working – and shook my hands out. Strangling hands indeed!
I’d hurt my knee way back in November, after my first true marathon. I’d expected a week to recover but that had stretched into six weeks. Then I’d messed up my post-injury recovery by going out too fast, and hurting my other leg. So I’d had to pull the plug on running for another week. I was grumpy, sickish, in desperate need of solitude and writing time, hungering for the woods that heal me when I run. And none of the things I needed were available.
Out of nowhere, my eight-year-old daughter declared she wanted to run around the block. She never runs; she hates to even walk. Before we got to seize this wonderful opportunity, she got angry though. My son was going to run with her, and he strapped on the training watch I’d given him that came with my new Runner’s World subscription. She wanted one too! It wasn’t fair! She stormed around shouting until my son found an old watch for her to wear, and only then could they get shoes on (my son ran in thongs, a true minimalist).
Watched and shod, off they ran. My husband and I waited at the top of the hill for them to reappear, and they did, charging. They were puffed, but my daughter wanted to go again. So she did, with my husband beside her on a bike. My son saved himself for our planned 1k around the streets, trying to rebuild his fitness from his 5k race back in July last year. Later in the day, I finally made it, all by myself, to the gym.
Riding my bike down the hill, it occurred to me that it had been days and days since I’d been alone. I felt the wind in my face, felt freedom, felt glad to be alive. The treadmill at the gym rewarded me with a 2k run, with no pain, and my heavy weights, well, they made me feel strong and warrior-like.
I rode home, contemplating how to fix the mistake of not giving my daughter a running watch too. Perhaps I had an old one she could borrow?
As soon as I walked in the door, my son ran up to me. “She wants to run around the block again!” I was too tired by then to join her, and determined to stick to my 3k plan for the day, so I let the rest of the family do the run.
In the meantime I found a Training Diary that had also come with my subscription. As my daughter ran towards me, completing her third lap of the block, I held it out to her. Her eyes lit up. She grabbed my hand, pulled me inside to my office, and we sat down to record the details of her three laps around the block, including time, feelings, and the course. For her good night story, we read about hydrating drinks, and talked about how important sleep is to recovery.
She’s gone to sleep with her new training diary next to her pillow, and is already planning her next run. My son is planning to do a 10k race this year. And me? I’m planning to get injury free, and then fly like the wind on my favorite trails.