The Truth About Running

It’s more than hard.

I’m realizing that it’s a constant series of injuries and disappointments. They’re small, so you can do deal with it. But for me, anyway, it’s regular. And that constant– it breaks your heart a little.

And then fleeting moments of unexpected success where you surpass your own humble expectations. Those moments, those ENDORPHINS, make you feel more than human.

They make you feel better than you knew it was possible for you. Flabbergasted.

In those moments, you’re so confident and positive.

That’s when you dare to dream your new goals : to increase your distance, to PR.

That’s when you sign up for races.

This year since February has been extremely humbling to me.

I know now that I’m cleared by a respectable orthopaedist specializing in knees to keep training. My knees are healthy, I felt no pain when they rotated them. Four x-rays showed no bone spurs and plenty of open spaces– a wonderful thing.

He answered my question on the difference between normal discomfort and real pain that requires stopping a run or calling it a rest day, or a longer break from running.

He told me to start cross-training. Because what had caused my fall was what I expected: my right knee over-compensated for my left, and the knee gave out. He said if I start strengthening the muscles, it’ll be less likely to happen again. That I’ll be able to run longer distances.

So I renewed my health club membership, and I began cross-training last night.

I swam. And I felt free. I felt strong.

I felt proud, walking in my bikini. I could feel people looking at me. I felt voluptuous and strong simultaneously. Like Wendy Peffercorn, dammit! Amazing.

I swam forty minutes.

I’m doing what I can. I plan to invest in some goggles and a better suit.

I plan to start going to classes at my health club– maybe power lifting.

I want to to do this the right way. I want to be well-rounded in my exercise.

But today I got a blister on my second toe, underneath. Because of flip-flops. And it hurts to walk and I’m not tough enough to run on it yet. I did an Out of the Darkness walk on behalf of my friend Andi. That was my exercise today.

But later on I did put my running shoes through the washer and dryer.

Despite all these “surprises” and the recovery times and setbacks…

I still want this.

I can only pray that with time, my injuries will be less. My recovery time faster. My mileage higher and my pace quicker.

Because maybe what hooks us to running is the magical ability we gain to learn about about our bodies and their limits.

Running teaches us to be aware and to heal ourselves. To persevere.

I was supposed to go to a friend’s celebration of graduation from her doctoral program tonight. I brought my dress to change into after the walking event.

But instead, I came home. I washed the dirt off my blister. I cleaned it up, disinfected it, but Neosporin and a bandage on it.

I took care of my foot, because my feet are important to me. And then I texted my friend and told her I wouldn’t make it tonight– she understood. And it was just too HOT. I wasn’t up to driving 80 miles round-trip and meeting new people tonight. I just wanted to stay home and rest.

My body told me to pay attention today and I did.

So I’m getting smarter. I knew better than to ignore the pain and continue on.

Pain is a signal to stop and rest, to evaluate where it’s coming from and why.

So today I chose to pay attention to my body and that makes me feel responsible.

And now I can sleep deeply, knowing that I still have dreams to run.

Sacrifice is the POINT: defending Lent (and Catholicism.)

I had a quick conversation today with someone very averse to Catholicism.

I mentioned my Lenten promises as an icebreaker joke. And she promptly told me that she grew up Roman Catholic and has since denounced it– proudly. She is not participating in Lent, no way!

I quietly listened, but was not impressed. I wish I had a better memory for the details, but basically she just said the idea of Lent turns her off to religion because it’s a sign of spiritual commitment.

I ask, what is wrong with that?

Next she bragged that her family has nothing to do with Mass! She seemed to identify it with control, as even oppressively controlling. She had been told by a parish that her child could not receive the sacrament of Baptism unless she had been a member of that parish for a year, I believe? Instead, she converted to Episcopalian.

I found her indignation immature. Like she expected the benefits of Catholicism for her children without anything in return, no sign that they would be raised in the holy tradition appropriate to those corresponding sacraments.

Today I realized how deep my Catholicism truly runs– and that I’m proud.

Usually I try to be impartial and understanding of anyone who isn’t religious or Catholic.

But today, I felt no empathy. I felt both defensive and proud to be Catholic.

Because being Catholic is not SUPPOSED to be easy or convenient. That’s part of the pride for us. It is an intense spiritual discipline. One that we choose. Many distance themselves in adulthood or go to a different Christian denomination.

I’ve chosen to stay.

To draw an analogy to Jimmy Dugan’s profession of love for baseball in “A League of Their Own,”

“It’s the HARD that makes it good.”

There is definitely a lot of crying in Catholicism! If you’re the type who cries– some do.

If you’re taking a hard look at your conscience, as we are taught to do.

And for me, crying is cathartic. I sometimes weep at Mass, or alone during Adoration. Or just praying by myself.

I know He sees them, and he hears me.

Those tears connect me to Christ, to my faith walk, to knowing He sees my struggle.

So today I didn’t talk back to this woman– I just listened.

And she revealed to me without knowing just how vital my Catholic identity is to me.