Transitions. Sometimes in life they come easily, like a slow path leading you to the final destination, with no detours or unexpected bumps along the way. Other times they come abruptly, like a door slammed in your face.
My relationship with running has had both. The slow, steady build up that led to opportunities to run in college and post-collegiately. The diagnoses of injuries in college that felt like closed doors, but ones I was determined to open again by dedicating countless hours to cross training and PT exercises.
The summer of 2015 felt different. Surgery and such a long recovery process felt like a closed door that I didn’t have the motivation to knock on until it opened. I transitioned from running 60 miles a week to crutching around. For 12 weeks I did nothing. I learned to operate as one who did zero physical activity and was okay with it. I found I could cheer on others and support them in their running journey with no strings attached. For the first time in my life, running had no hold on my life. I couldn’t run and I was still me.
When the 16-week mark came and I was cleared to run 1 minute, I did so with much trepidation. I was excited to try running, but at the same time, I had a taste of life without running and much to my surprise, it wasn’t completely terrible. The ability to start running again meant I had to navigate another transition. What did running look like moving forward? Do I get to a place where I can just run and enjoy the outdoors and company of running buddies, or do I see if my body can handle training again?
The first few months were joy-filled runs trying to stick with my in-shape friends, relishing in the opportunity to be out there again. Then there were the workouts I jumped in to help friends out. The taste of working out and doing some local 5ks “for fun” put those “what if” questions in my mind. What if I tried to reach a high level of training? Could I do it? How would my foot handle it? Did I even want to do it?
I committed half-heartedly. I starting doing workouts of increasing intensity, picked some local races as gauges of fitness, and decided to see where it would go. It was less than perfect, but it was the space in my heart and life that running could hold. It felt weird to commit half-heartedly, as my nature is to jump in all or none, but in this season, it was healthy.
Weeks turned into months and months turned into a year. With each race, I progressed a little further. I found mental games to play with myself to get through the solo workouts when I found myself asking why. And then I felt that small tug, recognizing that all along this was a slow path leading me to a destination that I would not have embraced in the beginning.
It is time to transition, to no longer half-heartedly commit. Doing so has protected my heart from the potential of getting hurt again, but at the same time it is keeping me from really seeing what I can do. And while there is no guarantee that it will go anywhere, running is calling and I must go. I’m choosing to jump in with two feet and lay it all on the line. This means moving back to Bend, embracing the invitation to transition and seeing what happens. While there is no guarantee that it will go anywhere, I am stepping out, not missing out on the possibility of what could be. Back to Bend I go!