For those who don’t know, my 35th birthday was a few weeks ago. As a present to myself, I decided to go for a run that morning. My motives lay somewhere between excitement that I could once again do something I love (running) and proving to myself (and my mother) that I’m not getting older.
So I set out on my run and decided to push it a little. I was one week away from finishing my 0-5K program, and I already had visions of what program I was going to do next (Zombies, Run!). I skipped ahead a few days in the sequence and added a few minutes to that morning’s run (we’re talking 3 minutes. No biggie, right?)
It was hard, but I loved it. I pushed through it.
I finished the whole run and felt great.
Until the next morning.
I woke up thinking I slept wrong. Maybe I was in some kind of contortion and my leg fell asleep? (I tend to sleep like a circus escapee).
I walked around and tried to shake it off.
I had strained my left quad.
If you have not had a muscle strain, allow me to paint the picture. Imagine a big rubber band, stretched to it’s capacity, about to snap. Pair that with a burning/throbbing pain. Then top that off with a shooting pain when you move slightly in the ‘wrong’ direction. In other words, it sucked. Royally.
I wanted this thing to go away. Like, yesterday.
What I was supposed to do with the injury: Let it rest, ice it, and protect it from small children and dogs using it as a launching pad.
What I did with this injury: Pushed it, walked on it as much as possible, had my 4 year old niece sit (read: bounce) in my lap and let Bud Friday, my 9 lb terrier, use it as a launching pad.
Because I wanted to believe it was fine. I didn’t want to slow down.
I didn’t want to LOOK like I was slowing down.
Because my pride couldn’t handle it.
It’s shocking, but treating my injury like that got me nowhere. Actually, I have a feeling it set me back more than a few days.
So I finally relented and questioned what this setback was here to teach me. I journaled about it, looked at my thoughts, and inquired about my ego-laden response to the situation.
And I found some really intriguing themes driving this pattern I have of pushing against progress.
What I learned from this injury is that I’m afraid to take it easy and let things happen organically.
I’m pushing myself into hurtful places.
I’m avoiding unwanted evidence of pain.
I don’t trust that things will progress on their own when I relax and back off.
(And if you think this is still about a leg, think again.)
In spite of my ridiculousness, my leg is better. And now that I’ve done my work and am truly letting it heal, it’s making leaps and bounds.
But I’m not putting a timeline on when I’ll be back on the running trails.
I’m learning how to let it rest (read: let myself rest) intentionally.
And besides one day when I went a little overboard with the stretching, I’ve been doing really well.
I’ve needed to learn this lesson for a while.
I clearly wasn’t getting it, so what better way than physically having the evidence in front of me.
Actually, the evidence was under me, supporting me as I learned my lesson and collapsing out from under me as I ignored what I needed to know.
So today, I’m sitting here with a bag of frozen peas on my leg as I write this. I’d say I’m 85% healed now. I know that I will be running again, but I’m not focusing on when. (Although right now we’re in an obscene heat wave that will last until October, so the weather may put a timeline on it for me.)
My focus right now is on allowing.
Allowing the healing.
Allowing the resting.
Allowing the feelings to come up and looking at the thoughts of doubt and resistance that cause them.
What does allowing look like?
Allowing is letting something show up as it is, instead of forcing it to look like what you think it should be.
Letting my injury take the time it needs without getting mad that it’s not better already.
Letting myself rest it as much as I need without thinking that I’m just being lazy. Letting myself feel the emotions without judging that they’re too extreme, or too negative.
And when I run again, letting my stamina and speed build up without thinking ‘I should be able to run my goal by now’.
Ironically, I don’t believe this setback is meant to hold me back at all.
It simply took me off the hurtful path where I was pushing against my progress and put me onto a new path.
One where I understand the value of allowing over forcing.
One that will take me much farther and much faster than the old path I was on.
And, as it so often does, the new path begins with healing injuries from the old one.
My power thought that allows me to slow my roll so I can get through this?
Today is better than yesterday.
That thought lets me feel the love I have for my amazing body and allows me to sit back and watch it heal.
It gives me evidence every day that backing off and letting things happen organically really does work.
That sometimes relaxing and taking a break will not kill you, but actually make you much, much stronger.