Confessions of a Recovering Runaholic

My name is Carolyn and it’s been one week since my last run.

It’s the first time in years that I haven’t been running at least every few days, bar being pregnant. And even so, I ran up til 28 weeks with my first. (Oh the arrogance! With my second pregnancy, I rekindled my relationship with the couch).

I am literally in rehab. Funny isn’t it? Rehab conjurs up images of Robert Downey Junior in some magical faraway place that looks like a fancy retirement home, where you sit and drink tea and play cards with fellow celebrity rehabbers. But no, my rehab is different. Life goes on but I must rest my hip and cease the running. For, oh, 8 weeks.

Other runners have been very sweet to sympathise with me. My research assistant was more blunt – “But that will kill you!!” she exclaimed when I told her the news. I love her for telling it like it is. Boy does she know me well. But it certainly wasn’t encouraging.

And here’s the thing – life is different without running. I have to find a new home, a new way to keep the endorphins and dopamine and serotonin pumping through me. I need new ways to move my body that don’t stress my sad hip. Because I have discovered, again, just how important it is to keep moving.

It now seems strange that I thought I was a really fit and healthy person. I thought I had it all worked out. But life has a funny way of making you wake up to yourself. My physio palpated about 100 spots on my body, from head to toe, that made me yelp like a kitten being strangled. I have trigger points where I didn’t even know muscles existed. That ain’t healthy, my friend.

It’s all good, I tell myself. I’ve wanted to fix my niggles for a long time. My neck aches. My shoulders are stiff. My TMJ is out. My glutes are crying. My calves are too tight. I’ve known, deep down, that i should have paid attention to my whole body instead of focussing solely on one activity, as blissful as that activity is. Now I’m learning the hard way that everything is connected. Health doesn’t just depend on one aspect of your lifestyle. You can’t cheat Nature. You must, humbly and respectfully, work with the whole system. Legs are connected to butt to lower back to mid back to neck and beyond. I couldn’t keep cheating forever – just running without any thought to the rest of my body.

It’s not easy not being able to run. I feel the familiar tension rising and I need to take off. But I can’t. So I hop on the bike or jump into the pool. The water brings me some relief. I feel like I’m washing myself of my sins. I also feel like a fish out of water – gasping in the middle of every lap. But I persist. And anyway, I’m grateful. For still being able to move, for still having my legs, no matter how sore they are.

I am respecting my body by fixing all the things in my everyday life that make my aches and pains worse. Starting with my neck. I’m finally creating an ergonomic work station. (I blame my extremely short stature for this! A super tall footstool will be needed!) and doing other things that I’ll be blogging about, because no doubt they will help others too in sedentary desk jobs.

I’ve also discovered that I can live without running. And this has brought me a new sense of freedom and confidence. The first few days was pretty strange, like living without an amputated limb. But they say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And I’m committed to this rehab so I can get back out there one day – my trainers crunching on the gravel track, a podcast in my ears and a song in my heart.

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