November 24, 2008

Calling myself a runner again

That’s it. The time may, at last, have come. I think I can now, without too much embarrassment, call myself a runner again. Not somebody who occasionally jogs. Not even somebody who regularly goes for a run. No. A runner.

It took a while to get back to this point. The best part of three years in fact. It all started with a typical I-know-better-than-everybody-else act. I signed up for my first marathon at the last minute, to accompany a friend and out of curiosity. After all, I was already running almost 60 miles a week, so that I figured that would get me through even without specific training. Two months later, I ran my first marathon, did decently well. Started thinking about running London 4 months later and contemplating breaking the mythical sub-3hr.

A month later, I was off running. For the best part of three years. Maybe had I not known better than everybody else, then. Yep, true to myself, I did manage to do all the wrong things all right. Start running again only a week after the marathon? Check. Well, I was feeling strong, no stiffness, you know, so why not? Not only go running but for nothing less than 14 mile-runs at fast pace? Check. My Serpie friends were going and it was just too tempting to tag along, you see. Carry on even though my ankle was clearly showing vehement signs of disagreement? Check. Well, we runners are not sissies, are we? We can handle the pain, run through it. Sure.

Well, this time, it did not work.

For the next few months, I did not run. Initially, I compensated by climbing. I had just met Martin, so concentrating on the climbing was not too much of an effort. Not only I enjoyed it, but if my dedication could impress the guy, I did not mind too much either.

Then I had to stop climbing as well. Looking back to that time, I think the fact that Martin stuck around is a clear sign he is completely devoid of reason. I would be home, talking about running all the time. The sun would shine, and I would sigh that it was such a perfect weather to go running. It would rain, and I would mention how much I loved going running in the rain. I would talk for hours about my bi-weekly physio appointments, analyzing her comments, trying to make them say that there was a chance I would be running again soon. In a nutshell, I was a total nightmare to be with. I mean, really. Like, much, much worst than usual. Yes, that bad.

A year and many useless physio appointments later (I mean, what did she think? Even totally delusional me could tell by that time that this was not just a tiny-itsy-bitsy tendinitis), I had surgery. Followed by 8 weeks lying on my bed without being allowed to move (I think these few weeks must have allowed Waterstone’s to double their annual sales, as reading was the only thing I could do). Followed by weeks of learning to walk properly again and rebuilding my leg muscles, my once-strong runner calf having all but gone.

Little by little, I could re-introduce sports in my life, and therefore a bit of sanity. And before anybody feels the need to comment on that bit, yes, I know that many of you think “Marie-Aline” and “sanity” could not be more of an antinomy precisely because of sports. But tough luck, that’s my blog, so my opinion prevails.

I took up cycling as, this, at least, I was allowed. Being the dwarf I am, I obviously had to go for a girlie bike in not-less-girlie baby blue, but even the embarrassment this created did not manage to deter me from getting on the bike, and I soon realized I enjoyed it as much a running (how was that possible?). Then I started swimming and I soon realized I certainly did NOT enjoy it as much as running.

Still, when I was given the green light to start running again (once or twice a week, i.e. nothing in my book), it was not the total bliss that I was expecting. My ankle was painful. And stiff. That was actually worrying me enough not to bother too much about being much slower than I used to be. And in any case, limiting my runs to 40 min outings was just not all that exciting. So, how shall I put it? I mean, it is rather embarrassing to say, but, err, I… lost a bit of motivation. Some days, it actually seemed like not such a bad thing, not being the running freak I used to be. Some other days though, I wanted to hide in shame: how could I call myself a runner if I could not myself out of the flat only because of the spurious reason that I did not feel like it?

Once, road tripping in the US, somebody asked me if I was a climber. My then-boyfriend helpfully and oh-so-kindly replied on my behalf “well, she likes to think of herself as one”. Well, that was how I now felt: the running equivalent of somebody who likes to think of herself as a climber. I.e., definitely not a runner.

In our first months in Annecy, running did definitely not figure super high in the agenda. Skiing, road cycling, mountain biking, climbing, bouldering, yes. Running, no. Then I realized that, although still stiff, my ankle was behaving quite decently on trail runs. And that trail runs were fun. And that they were such a great way, together with our cycling rides, to discover the area around Annecy. And that it was much easier to convince Martin to go and throw up after a killer hill than to enjoy an easy run on the pavement. And that I was dying to go for the next one as soon as I had come back from a run. So I have started running again. Looking forward to the next one. Checking out new trails. Enjoying the runs in the sun and those in the rain, the sessions in the mud and those in the snow, the short evening sessions and the long weekend runs.

So, I guess I can say it now: I-AM-BACK! And I can call myself a runner again.

1 comment:

Shenmen said...

Sooo glad to hear you are running again MAPP, that is great news. Speak soon.
Carole x