I have not been able to run for four weeks now and it feels like the end of the world. Insignificant to everyone else. Irrelevant to the rest of the world. Pathetic to think like that really. Or is it?
I was on form, I was training well, I was loving life, then I pulled my calf on the track at Leeds Beckett Uni on my second lap. I have been trying to work out what it is that gets you down when you can’t run. Clearly a tweaked calf is about as insignificant as it gets compared to a disability, a long term health condition, or a long term injury such as a tear, torn ligament or a fracture. So you are still able to cycle. You can still walk. You can still go to the gym. You can still go to Crossfit Regain (I can’t recommend that place highly enough). And don’t get me wrong, I love doing these activities and they are key components to my cross training, but nothing quite seems to fill the void of the run.
But I have come to realise it is not the loss of the physical act of running that is causing this mild depression, it is a loss of identity. For the last five years since I took up running I have immersed myself in it- admittedly only in the last year have I taken training more seriously, but I have been totally immersed in watching, reading about, coaching and generally getting involved in all aspects of it. I have become a runner. I identify myself as a runner. When you get injured it sucks out the enthusiasm, the drive, the energy you once had for the activity, it questions who you are. If I can’t run then I am no longer a runner, and therefore who am I?! My identify has gone. And that is something that is difficult to deal with.
I am sure it is the case for all “athletes” at whatever level they compete at, there are certainly high profile professional sports stars who have spoken of the void that is left in their lives after retiring, suffering a long term injury, or achieving high level success. But I find it interesting that this can also happen to amateurish sports participants such as myself, and to occur in a matter of less than four weeks….
I have had some physio and sports massage and will be able to start running again in a few days, by which time the negative thoughts in my head over the past few weeks will all be a distant memory, but I will certainly try and think back to this. My identity as a runner may be insignificant to everyone else, but it is important to me…..