The Big Question

Posted on October 19, 2012. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

What do you do when you can’t run?  The obvious things come to mind:  Swim, bike, walk, join a gym.  But that’s not what I mean. Not exactly.

What do you do when you’ve been running for years, when running is as much a part of your day as brushing your teeth, when it’s become so rooted in your identity that you don’t know who you are apart from it. When losing the ability to do it feels like losing a loved one or a limb.

It sounds overly dramatic, I know. I used to be a non-runner and always thought there was something a little off about those people who lamented life when they were forced to stop running. Until I became a runner.  And then couldn’t.

When I injured my hip nearly 3 years ago and had to stop running, I lost a piece of myself.  I felt like someone I loved had died.  At first I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I cried daily. Sunk into a depression.  Sat at home alone, not wanting to see my friends or even talk to them on the phone.  I think I was startled as much as I was depressed. I truly did not know how much of my identity was tied to running until running was taken away.

Fortunately, I gradually worked through my injury and began to run again after more than a year.

But I was reminded of this loss lately.  A friend’s husband recently broke his leg so badly that, as my friend put it, his x-ray looked like the inside of a Lowe’s.  A lifelong runner, he now finds himself unable to run for at least the next 10 months. My friend’s eyes developed a distant look as she finished telling me his story, as if her husband had gone some place far, far away and she was trying to remember what he looked like.

Finally, she said, “What do you do when you can’t run?”  She didn’t expect an answer, and I’m glad. The only one I can think of is, you wait.


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2 Responses to “The Big Question”

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Great picture to go with this post. Heart-wrenching.


Yes, it is–I hope he can find something to do for the next 10 months.


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