Today I stopped playing music during my walk.
If you’ve been following me at all, you’ll know that for several months I've been dealing with an injury that has prevented me from running. I've never in my life gone this long without it and it’s been a mental challenge. Some good has come out of it, as is usually the case when you’re forced to change a habit, but largely being unable to run during the most temperate months of the year in Chicago has been a torment.
I started physical therapy and was cleared to walk. At first, that in itself was amazing for me! I could at least get outside rather than slogging away in a pool, trying not to bump into whoever I was sharing a lane with, or plodding along on the elliptical, which is always positioned behind the treadmills so you can see everyone else who is able to run going at it. I was able to call people on my walks, be outside and be moving! It was great! For a while.
Eventually, the length of time it was taking me heal was frustrating. I would walk only to envy the people that I saw running by. I tried competing with myself. Walk a little faster every time. A little longer. I still did my stints on the elliptical also. I cashed in some points for two swim lessons at the gym I belong to. Fit in extra biking when I could. I did my best.
Two weeks ago I got the okay from my therapist to start a very specific return to running program. The first day was run for thirty seconds, walk for four and a half minutes. Repeated six times. I was to take a rest day in between each session. Each running session increased by thirty seconds, decreasing the walking by the same. The first few sessions were exciting, but the running was just so short. I still kept to the program. I'm trying to avoid a lingering issue.
I'm finally to a point where the runs are longer than the walks. Initially, some of the pain returned and I was concerned. It really worried me for a while that I might have to regress again. Just this week, however, I had a pain-free run walk. I brought it up with my therapist who suggested that when I feel the inklings of pain returning, pay attention to what my foot is doing. Seems so obvious, but I hadn't considered it and it does make a difference when I consciously correct my foot.
I've settled down. I'm at peace with my in between days, finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s allowed me to approach my cross training in a different way. I look forward to it more, rather than resenting it.
Today I got up actually looking forward to a long walk. Things have been fairly high-stress lately. Largely good things, but I’ve been very busy, with a lot to talk about and no one (aside from my husband) to unload on. And while he’s a great listener and supporter, after a while, he’s heard it all and I'm looking for a different perspective which, obviously, he can't give. When things get like this, I ruminate. I can even see myself ruminating, but I'm unable to get out of the trap sometimes.
Normally on my walks, I make phone calls or listen to music. It's been fun to have this extra time to catch up, during running I'm not able to talk on the phone. This morning, no one was available. All I got was voice mail. I tuned back into the music and the ruminating started again. I stopped the music and pulled out one headphone, keeping the other in just in case someone called me back. I kept my eyes up and started deliberately taking in the flowers and trees around me. I smiled or said good morning to every person I passed who met my eye. It was instantly uplifting.
I saw some planters on the other side of a fountain that I had run by millions of times. They were filled with awesome arrangements of flowers. I altered my course to walk by and check them out more closely. “My grandma would love these,” I thought.
My brother in law was in town from Alabama, traveling for work. True to the nature of the current craziness of my schedule, I was only able to see him for twenty minutes in between classes, but it was nice to catch up. When I turned off my music I noticed a text from him that I wouldn't have seen until I got home otherwise. He mentioned that the son of my high school track coach is in the youth program that he’s in town for and wished he’d been able to introduce us. I asked if he could get my coach’s contact info as I’d love to keep in touch, he said he would, and gave me an update on what his son was up to.
The rest of my walk was filled with happy musings of reconnecting with my coach, flowers that my grandma would like and wishing strangers good morning. Even the sound of the fountain was something that I would have missed, that I have missed, every other time I've gone by.
I think I might be taking more walks ‘in the world’ rather than in my head from now on. It was a great reset. And for the hour at least, I was able to let everything else go.