confessions of a running addict

I see a running path
I see a running path

Last week I wrote a post about simple life. About how all of the things I do to simplify and slow my life are essentially with the goal of wellness in mind. When I was writing that piece, there was a slight niggle in the back of my mind. I was questioning whether all of my choices are actually good for my health. You see, I love to move and exercise, and I don’t go crazy with it, but I am a bit of a running junkie. In my head, the world just isn’t quite right if I haven’t run free at least once every second day. It used to be most days, but as my body ages, I’m discovering it doesn’t really like to run every day.

I love the intensity of running, and the way it makes me feel. It’s like meditation in motion for me. And I know that I’m not alone. There are millions of me out there, but this is where my questioning comes in. You see, about two months ago I felt a bit of a twinge in the back of my right knee. If I squatted, I could feel something was wrong behind my knee, and it took a few steps after each squat to go back to normal, or close to normal. I knew pretty much straight up that there was something going on with my posterior cruciate ligament, but I chose to ignore it. A few weeks later, on a Saturday afternoon in May, I did some very impressive kicks of a football with my eldest son. He thought I was the coolest Mum ever…but that night, I could barely walk. Internally I was panicking that my running days were over (either temporarily or forever), but after a few days it felt OK, so I ran, albeit in a fair amount of pain.

So here’s the issue. I am focussed on wellness, and I love to exercise, and I know my body inside out, but am I really listening to my body? I would say yes, generally, but not when it comes between me and my running. So there’s this disconnect when it comes to addiction, which got me thinking about pretty much every other human I know, and the disconnect we all have when it comes to things we love, and knowing when that thing is no longer serving us. People do it with work and stress, with food, with inactivity, with drugs, with relationships…with lots of things…it’s crazy.

I did exactly the same thing when I had plantar fasciitis a few years back now, so I’m definitely seeing a pattern emerge here. I ran, I ran, I ran. I could barely walk when I stopped running, but it felt fine when I ran, and I couldn’t visualise my life without running. When I finally acknowledged the problem, and I stopped running, it took over two years to recover. I would internally curse other runners in the street for being able to run. It was awful.

With my knee, by running on it, I have more than doubled my recovery time. All because I was scared that a) I would have to stop running short term, or b) I may never run again. Both of which are completely irrational thoughts which make no sense when you say them out loud. Which is exactly what I did last Friday when I was trying to rationalise what I was doing with my knee to a very practical ex-physio friend. I kept on running on my injury, because I was worried I wouldn’t be able to run again?? Saying it out loud was like slapping myself across the face, and saying “wake up you crazy lady. Are you trying to destroy any chance you have of still being able to run at 80?” Which probably makes me sound like an even crazier lady…and then I woke up. And I’m now listening to my body. And I’m promising my body that I’ll keep on listening, particularly as I get older, and parts of me start to wear out and need more love. I’ll listen, I’ll adapt, and I won’t just run myself to destruction, which is definitely not on my path to wellness.

Linked with Essentially Jess for IBOT

12 thoughts on “confessions of a running addict

  1. Ugh, I’m having to listen to my body now too. More yoga and strength is required when all I want to do is run. What did you end up doing for your plantar fasciitis?

  2. Yoga is my absolute saviour. Being able to maintain strength and chill my head at the same time is amazing. My plantar fasciitis was a nightmare. I tried every treatment in the book. I saw a sports doc and had cortisone injections, I saw a podiatrist and got orthotics, which I’ve never really believed in, but I was trying everything. He also had me doing a gruelling stretching regime. I bought weird socks with a clip that pulls your toes into a flexed position all night in bed…stretching your calf continually. I bought loads of different shoes. Nothing helped. In the end I discovered by chance that my ITB was a big part of the problem, which is quite unusual as it is generally lower leg muscles causing it. But it’s all connected, so I am not surprised. All of the health professionals focus on the calf. I stopped wearing orthotics and only wore very flexible runners (completely contradicting all I’d been told) or Merrels (awesome shoes). I also dropped 5 kg, which I couldn’t really afford to lose, but my recovery was very fast after that. Which makes perfect sense, as there’s instantly less pressure on the foot. Sorry that’s the long answer!!

  3. Ahh Michelle. This would have been so hard for you. I really feel for you. It’s hard when you enjoy something so much and it’s just no good for you. I’m very limited with the exercise I can do due to chronic pain with my sacrum and my pelvic floor is completely kaput. I had to say goodbye to the zumba I was doing (although I’m trying a hip hop class tomorrow – Shh – don’t tell my osteo) and take up swimming instead. Swimming is my saviour. Have you tried getting into that? It’s a bit kinder on the body. #teamIBOT

  4. It must be so hard to not be able to do what you love. I’ve had a few ankle injuries, and while I’m not a runner, I always struggle with the idea of ‘taking it easy’ so life can resume as normal again. It’s not easy to do nothing, especially when you love moving.
    I hope you heal quickly and can get back to it soon. And I hope it doesn’t drive you crazy in the mean time. xx

  5. Hi Michelle, I understand what your saying from one crazy running lady to another. There was a time when I would never have run without my timer and km counter on. Running has always been my go to for instant sanity. I ran on orthotics once and even though my foot hurt I pushed on only to end up with a stress fracture the next day. Clever! As I truly embrace this slowness I am trying to incorporate it into my running, I want to run for the love of it and for a long time. I recently ran with my 10yo and it was so brilliant to have a new running partner. I am trying to shift to running for the love of it and take the pace out if that makes sense, so that I can listen to the niggles that seem to pop up more and more as I get older.

    ps Love that you were playing kick to kick, you are the coolest mum ever.

    1. I never run far these days, and it’s definitely not about pace any more. I just love to run with my dog, and we love to run a bit too often, probably for both of us. He’s old and a bit arthritic. We are both enjoying walking at the moment though, and have even turned it into something a bit social, walking with friends and their dogs too. Maybe I’ll get used to not running by the time my 6 weeks is up…ha ha!!!

  6. Good on you for taking the time to look after yourself so that you can continue to do something you love. I have plantar fasciitis and have found that walking actually makes it better, as long as I don’t over do it. It’s all about finding the right balance. I also enjoy the alone time with my music.

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