Run for Your Life – But Don’t Count On It

  There is a time for being ahead, a time for being behind; a time for being in motion, a time for being at rest, a time for being vigorous, a time for being exhausted;*

 There’s a small lake near my home, with a ¾ mile paved path around it – perfect for tempo training – and overlooking that path is the home of a woman with the long, lean sort of build you might well pick out of a crowd as a being a natural-born runner, who sometimes waves or shouts encouragement as I go tootling by. She did in fact run competitively from high school thru early-middle age, though no more; her hips; she says, just cannot take the pounding…

One reason I’m still able to run may be that I started quite late in life, encouraged by a good friend who’d been running shorter distances for decades, and wanted to step up to a hemithon.  We trained and finished that event almost a dozen years ago, and several more together, till he ran up against a string of injuries. Now, after his only-semi-successful knee surgery and therapy, we find other thing to do together, besides running…

And then there are those moments sitting at the desk or on an airplane when you move your feet and feel a twinge on the inside of one knee.  Or the first steps of a run, where one ankle seems about to crack, so you vary your stride and hope it goes away once things get warmed-up a bit.  The hip feeling ‘wonky’ as you walk down the stairs for morning coffee.   The trail-running tumble last summer that initially seemed like just another case of road rash, but now you’re wondering if that shoulder is ever again going to have the same range of motion as the other one…

The possibilities, unfortunately, are endless, and so, on this cold and damp and grey morning-of-the-tired-legs, when I can readily come up with multiple excuses not to get out there again, my better-self reminds me to:

Run like you’ve been running all your life; it’s natural it’s healthy; it’s one of the things our bodies evolved to do;

  • Run like you will be running all your life;
  • But don’t ever take it for granted –
  • Don’t ever count-on being able to do it forever, because you know that an injury could end your career at any time,
  • And, as a direct consequence of that knowledge: make the best of every day on which you can get out there and pull one foot off the ground before the other one touches down.
  • Be all the more grateful for knowing how precarious that gift is.

Run for your life!

(* Stanza 29, Tao te Ching, A New English Version, by Lao-Tzu as translated by Stephen Mitchell, Harper & Row, 1988)

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