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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Reasons for Running

Running injuries are tough. Not just because I have to adjust goals, not just because they can be painful, not just because they keep me off the road but because they make me stop and think about my reasons for running.

I have a criminal's injury. My bruised heel or "calcaneal contusion" was once known as the Lover's fracture because it happened when an illicit lover leapt from the bedroom window to avoid discovery by the raging spouse. Now it's an injury associated with criminals jumping out of windows the avoid the cops. Talk about reasons for running!

See the white spot in the calcaneus? That's it. 

There isn't a specific moment or incident that I can identify that caused this injury. Knowing exactly what caused it would make me feel better. It would allow me to maintain the unfounded belief that I had control over some parts of my life because we all know I don't.  Truly the injury came about not just because of one specific thing, but because a variety of small events that piled up and put just a little too much stress on my heel bone. Now it's swelling and down deep in the bone there may some minute fractures.

My boot.

Even though it doesn't hurt walking around, I have to wear this enormous boot to cushion my heel as it heals. I feel like I'm overdoing it a bit, because my injury isn't that bad. But I know wearing the boot is only helping me get better faster. So I'm letting go another short term running goal for a longer term goal- running and competing for as long as I can.

It's only painful when I run but that put a big damper in my next goal: run the Great Race is less than 45 minutes. I set that goal this spring - or rather 10K world record holder Arturo Barrios set that goal for me while we were having dinner together the night before the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run. I was injured then, too, and had reset my sub 80 minute goal for that race to "run the whole thing pain free."

So here I am again, weeks out from a race I love and I'm sidelined. I was unhappy for a short time. And I asked myself: Why do I run? Why do I train? Why do I compete?

If I didn't have something motivating me to run, injuries like this could really end my commitment to the sport. I'm not getting paid to do this! Nobody else cares if I run or I don't. I care. I have to motivate myself to do it. Frankly I have lots of reasons for running. And I'm going to admit they are not really charitable or generous, they are totally and completely selfish. But at least I can admit honestly what my motivation is, right?

I run to give structure to my days and my year.
I run to not get unhealthy and overweight.
I run to show my kids how to be healthy.
I run to have something that belongs just to me and not my kids.
I run to look good because that makes me feel good.

These reasons are pretty self-serving. Bottom line: Running keeps me happy. If I am happy, I can be a better person, a nicer friend, a calmer mom, an overall more productive citizen. And if you don't think being happy is important, read this post from Ken Wert about why happiness matters.

I'd like to know what your reasons are for running and if they serve a higher purpose, make life more bearable or just keep the crazies under control a little longer. Tell me! What are your reasons for running?

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