Stress fractures, broken bones, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, torn muscles, tendonitis, fatigue, and a downright beatdown on my mental fortitude. When things are going well, everyone is in your corner. When you're broken, you're on your own.
Over the past few years, I've been clawing back to find my old self again. A feat I truly thought would never happen. A career full of sleepless nights tossing and turning to get into a comfortable position, millions of steps with a constant reminder that my plantar fasciitis will never go away, hundreds of dry needles to give me some semblance of relief, physical therapy appointments to highlight my inadequacies, a scoreboard full of subpar performances, and a constant barrage from outsiders for not coming back at my best.
Nobody cares about my excuses, the bystanders want to see results. If only they could have a day in my shoes.
In a given year, almost 80% of runners will face an injury. We've all been in the hurt locker and it's a true gut check of "how bad do you want it". Is it worth it? Should you just give up? Long hours of isolation staring at the same damn wall, swimming in the same damn pool, pedaling on the same damn bike that has a seat made of tree bark. Coupled with the joy of watching your teammates and competitors pull farther ahead of you. Sounds like a pretty convincing argument to hang up the shoes, huh? Year after year our competitors face the same feelings of isolation and one by one they're weeded out. You best believe the ones that remain eat nails for breakfast. This sport isn't for the weak.
So why keep running at all?
For as much as this sport can kick you when you're down, there are few other things in life that can bring as much purpose and tangible progress than running. The euphoria of having your body click just right, the mini milestones to give you something to look forward to, the satisfaction of achieving a new personal best, and the limitless feeling of surrounding yourself with a tribe of psychos who push their bodies to the limit. While the valleys of training beat us down, the other side of suffering is when we feel the most alive. Through the tough times we hold a relentless belief that a better version of "you" is just on the horizon that maybe not everyone else can see.
The best is yet to come.
Day in and day out I get to train with a tribe of like-minded psychos who refuse to throw in the towel. We've been beat down but you best believe we're better for it. I'm not dead yet, so you best believe I'll see you on the other side.
I work with Tinman Elite to create this short story into a visual story here
Life novice exploring how to navigate the world. Let's discover together!