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As much as I bitch about it, I do appreciate my body.  For what it’s worth.  Yes, I would like there to be less of it to appreciate, but that abuse is of my own doing and I’m trying to fix that.  And as I look back, most of the difficulty or pain my body has given me is of my own doing.  Yes, my back failed horribly.  I did that playing roller hockey.  I broke my collar bone mountain biking.  The fractured pelvis that took me out for almost a year was a direct result of too many miles on a body carrying too much weight.  So me and my body… yeah… we’ve done some stuff.

Backpacking, mountain biking, triathlons, century rides, any team sport available… heck, even golf.  Yeah… It hasn’t been a bad ride at all…

I’m thinking about this because I went running yesterday.  This is significant in my life only because it was the first time in over a month and a half.  Why?  Because my knees… both of them… in the same spot…  have been hurting too much to run.  This is another example of overexertion pain.  I do that to me a lot.  My knees hurt because I started weightlifting again and put too much weight on the leg press machines and stressed out my knees.  The problem was, I was capable of lifting the weights I put on the machine without a problem.  However, just because you can…

I thought about several things as I was running.  First, the trail was wet and sloppy.  Even though it was 60+ degrees and I was in shorts, there was still snow on the trail.  So not wanting to make any sudden movements and give my knees more reason to complain, I went very slow and cautious with the run.  I started out to run 2 miles but my knees felt OK so I added one more.  So the first and most important thing on my mind was how did I feel.  My lungs were ok (not great) but that was to be expected.  My legs were good.  My knees protested a little at first but then functioned within normal parameters after that.  Only the slightest discomfort and it got better, not worse, as I warmed up.

But then, as is usually the case when I run, my mind started to wander.  Only enough attention to the trail to make sure I didn’t step on or in something.  The rest of my body went on autopilot.  The goal was just to run.  So that eliminated the need to follow a watch or look for mile markers.  I started thinking about running in general and how much I like it.  I worried about not being able to run again.  I worried that this time maybe my body had finally had enough and was done with running for good.  That made me sad.  Both that I was getting older and my body might let me down, and that I was at a loss for what to do if I couldn’t run anymore.  What would I do?

So I started looking at my options.  Swimming?  Yes, I do like to swim.  However,  it’s kind of like a wet treadmill to swim in a pool and I can only go so far without going slightly (more) insane.  Bicycling?  I do like it a lot but there is a lot of overhead.  Bikes, gear, spandex (oy…) and finding decent places to ride all make bicycling more of a pain than it is really worth sometimes.  Mountain biking would be my choice but in mid Mo there are 4-5 months out of the year you just can’t ride.  And not because it’s cold.  I’m OK with cold.  It’s just too wet to ride and the parks are closed.  I don’t mind road bikes but I don’t love them either.

So then, as I ran over a bridge, I started thinking about my new purchase of a kayak.  Would that be a good replacement?  Is it even a good workout?  How long would it take to get good enough at it so that I could make it a good workout?  My kayak has never been in the water with MY butt in it.  And as I ran past a trail that wandered off into the woods I thought about hiking.  Great exercise and gets me out in the woods where I really like to be.  There are thousands of miles of great trails in Mo.  Would that be the answer?  Could I get enough exercise out of it to make it worth my while without having to be out in it all day?

And then my run was over.

I don’t know who was controlling my body… but I wasn’t.  I was in my head.  Somehow I had managed to turn around at a mile and a half and get me home… But I didn’t do it.  My body did.

I was too busy worrying about what I was going to do when I couldn’t run anymore to realize that, for today, I can still run.  And as I write this the day after, which is usually the day I pay the bill for doing something stupid if there is one to be paid…

I feel pretty good.  Not 100%, but maybe 90%?

And I feel a little better inside too.  I really thought this might be the beginning of the end for me and running.  That was eating at me quite a bit.  But I realized that, for today, I think I’m OK.  And if I’m cautious and good to myself, I can get back to running again…  Not fast.  Not often.  No hills or offroad stuff for a while.  But I can keep running.  I need that.

I think the other thing I realized is that even if I can’t run anymore someday, I have options.  I just listed 4 or 5 here and there are more.  I had never really thought about that before.  I was so worried about what I couldn’t do, I wasn’t looking at what I still could do.  This is a familiar theme with me and kind of a bad habit.

I don’t think I need to begin planning an exit strategy just yet, but it’s nice to know it won’t involve the couch when it comes.  That would be tragic.

“I run because I can.”

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