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Spring Hiatus – by Catherine Smith

Today marks one month since the last day I ran.  This year also marks 30 years since I began my career, a spritely, ponytailed sixth grader who thought she could sprint.  The first 27 were, blessedly, injury free; the past 3 have been, sadly, marred by pulls, bruises, strains.  After a month of trying to ignore the sharp pain in my knee, I surrendered and visited the orthopedist, who promptly ordered an MRI, diagnosed a bone bruise, and prescribed 4 weeks of rest from impact activities (i.e., running).

After a moment or two of feeling sorry for myself—my spring racing season marching away to the relentless beat of Father Time—I  resolved to join a gym.  I knew I would need to fill the void of running with somethingnothing was impossible.  I’d really never taken any long length of time off before (I actually ran the day I gave birth to my younger son, Danny), so this challenge for me would probably be more psychological than physical.

What I’ve found over the past 4 months has been unexpected.  I found that I like pilates.  I found that spin classes hurt. A lot.  I found that running fitness does not necessarily translate to gym fitness.  I found that I stink at yoga.  But I’ve improved a little each class and that progress is rewarding.  It’s been a good number of years (16 to be exact) since I’ve run a PR (except in those obscure distances like the 8K and 15K, which I never tried in my youth).   And yet every yoga class, I have a PR!  It’s fun to see improvement.  In short, it’s been a humbling, enlightening month.

What I also discovered, somewhat unsurprisingly, is that I love and miss running.  I miss the simplicity of lacing up my shoes and just running.  (Notice how I didn’t include a stretch in this routine… hence the need for yoga!)  I miss the clarity of mind running brings.  I miss track workouts where my high school kids remind me how very slow my legspeed has become.  And most of all, I miss Sunday mornings with the Grove Street crew.

This week I will visit the orthopedic again and will hopefully get the go-ahead to run.  I originally expected to be counting the days for this declaration; instead I am nervous.  I am nervous to run.  I am nervous about the weakness I feel when I walk up stairs, when I first get out of bed in the morning.  I am nervous that this road will be longer than expected.  But I am still grateful for enjoying so many years of running competitively and without pain, for the opportunities running has afforded me, for the people I’ve met through the sport.  I pray to be able to continue—to heal and continue through the years.  But if that can’t happen, I’ve found that challenges do lie beyond the track.  One of these days I’m going to master that lotus pose.  Mark my words.

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