Sunday, 16 November 2014

Identity crisis

It took a long time for me to call myself a runner. I ran but I wasn't really a runner. It wasn't until I completed my first marathon that I started to think of myself that way. Not because of the distance, that was unimportant; but it took something as big as that for me to change the way I ran. Up until then I just ran. Two or three times a week, usually a bit longer at the weekend.

In training for the marathon though I needed to follow a plan. Except I didn't do plans, I was all about spontaneity, right? Well, wrong as it happens. In fact I enjoyed following a plan, it took the uncertainty out of things. If the plan said intervals, I ran intervals, if it said hills I ran hills. Easy. And so the training became automatic and I began, slowly, to evolve; over time the act of doing transformed into a state of being; I became a runner.

So what does a runner do when they can no longer run? When the act which defines them can no longer be practised. These last few weeks, months even, I've been out of action with Achilles problems. As the weeks ran into months I started to doubt I could recover. I found this so frustrating, to have trained so hard and come to a new level of fitness only to be laid low, the strength draining from my legs with every day that passed. In my darkest moments I wondered whether I would look back in ten years time on these last two years as a blip, that brief moment in time when I was fit and could do amazing things.

Of course I will recover, I am already on the mend as it happens but it got me thinking, what happens when, as will be the case for us all, I can no longer run or climb, how will that feel; how will I cope with that? I need to work on my patience, that's for sure, or I'm going to have a sad few years stored up in the future. I have to learn to enjoy all the parts of my life equally, take a lay off due to injury as an opportunity to get things done - the little things that slip when everything revolves around training, to revel in a lie in or a lazy lunch break. Time, for now at least, will heal all ills and soon enough I'll be fighting fit and training hard.

1 comment:

  1. I have had very similar thoughts with regard to surfing. For twenty years I called myself a surfer, but since child #2 and moving to the south coast my water time has dropped so low that I no longer feel like I can truly claim that label.

    So if I'm not a surfer, what am I? As it happens I was becoming increasingly uncomfortable with labelling myself anyway, mainly due to the 'surfing lifestyle' thrust upon the sport by the huge commercial brands. The surf was pumping this weekend, and I didn't get in... this used to cause me almost physical pain the regret was so strong! Now, shod of the 'surfer' label, I feel more free to be a cyclist, an aquarist, a SF geek, etc etc. I can be all these things without the surfer's 'tribal guilt' that used to accompany missing a good swell.

    I get in the sea when I can so I'm still, and always will be, a surfer, I'm just not a 'surfer' any more.