Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The End of Running?

Everything was going so well – I had some good workouts, build up to a decent long run, and I even ran a respectable warm-up race a couple weeks ago – so well that I barely blogged about it for fear of jinxing my fitness fast-track, as if by looking at it too closely, getting too excited (yay! look at me! uninjured and finally getting back into shape!) I might make it all go away. 

Well despite my best efforts, the alchemy didn’t align because go away it did. As of today, Wednesday, my hip flexor hurts and my pessimism is high. Cherry Blossom Ten Miler, the race I’ve been working toward, won’t be blossoming for me this year. 

You’d think by now I’d be used to this feeling – the punch-in-the-stomach failure that comes with the realization that I can’t run. The anger, frustration, and disappointment of knowing that my own body has betrayed me, and the even worse realization that all those emotions can be directed nowhere but inward, because no one did this to me but me. I can’t run

Are we meant to be? Me and running? This philandering fair-weather friend of mine? Or should I just stop now before I daydream up another castle in the sky only to have it collapse around me in a pile of running shoe rubble the very week before it actually matters? True, I would miss the runner’s high…but it might be worth it to be spared the runner’s low.

To serve as some explanation, this post was mostly composed in my head as I walked the two miles back from the track last night, a new never-to-be-worn racing shimmel in my hand, and my coach’s (reasonable but painful) criticisms echoing in my ears. “There will be other races,” people say. I feel like I’ve been telling myself that for years. But running is not a zero sum game…so maybe there won’t be. People do it, people lead happy productive lives and they don’t run. Is it a learnable skill? Is it a skill I want to learn? 

On a recent episode of 30 Rock, Jack asks Kenneth how he can stay so positive in the face of failure. The usually ruthlessly chipper Kenneth responds in a moment of serious intensity, “I lie to myself every morning when I wake up. I don’t know how much longer I can do it.” That is exactly how I feel about running right now. 

Thank you for bearing with me through this stream of self-loathing consciousness. Regularly scheduled happy blogging will resume tomorrow when I get over myself.