Diary of a Newbie Runner: Life of Leisure Gone Awry

{By Ellery Sadler}

I never thought of myself as a devoted runner, or a very willing one. I always ran because it was something I just did. People in my family run, and while I occasionally felt the ‘runners high’ it was rare and normally only after a grueling hour and a half of misery. It was after one of these long runs (9 miles to be precise) I felt a twinge of pain in my knees… not really a twinge actually, more like a searing pain. And that was the day a tragedy happened.

At first I did not realize it was a tragedy – it felt like a wonderful little break from my running routine.

 My knees were actually hurting too badly to run. Tragedy? I don’t think so. My first week of rest was delightful, relaxing, and made me wonder why I’d ever run in the first place. I got up in the morning to beautiful days without any sweat or tears. (By the way I don’t normally cry when I run, except for once or twice when I was in extreme pain, but it sounded good in that sentence.) So the first week rolled around. Life as a couch potato was looking pretty good.

The second week came and I began to get a little desperate, after all, I had a half marathon to run in only four more weeks, so I started doing strength training two or three times a weeks, to at least keep up what muscle I had. That was all fine and good. I was planning on running the next week.

Week three. I tried to trot a little on the treadmill – trot, mind you, not even run – and the results were negative. I knew that my knees were injured and if I kept running they’d only get worse. They hurt for the rest of the day and I knew there was no way I was doing that again anytime soon. My heart began to sink. What if I never got to run again? It had been three weeks since that awful 9 miles … and they were still hurting. Life as a couch potato was looking pretty bleak.

By week four I was very desperate. I’d never wanted to run so bad in my life. How ironic is that? Me wanting to run?! But it was true and I had to face the awful truth: that silly saying ‘you never know how much you have until you lose it’ was right. I wanted to run. And I couldn’t.  Maybe I only wanted to because I couldn’t … whatever the reason I wanted to run. Resting for one week is bliss. Resting for two weeks is fine. Three weeks is ok. Four weeks is misery. A life of leisure is not fun or exciting. So I decided if I couldn’t run, I’d do something. I started doing P90X every morning and do you know what I discovered? You can sometimes get a ‘runner’s high’ doing strength training! And that is pretty cool.

By week five I knew I wouldn’t be able to do that half marathon. I was disappointed. This was going to be my moment of glory, the goal I at last, after hours of pain and heartache, achieved, my crowning moment, but I was destined not to reach it, at least for the time being. Now, since I am a Christian writing this for a fundamentally Christian blog, I could go all moral-of-the-story and tell you how this relates to more than just running, after all, we will always face disappointment in life, and this running experience is a wonderful cheesy analogy of …. But I’ll skip that.  The point is, much to my great surprise, I actually miss running. And if you learn anything from my experience it should be this: don’t train exclusively on pavement. It you have a soft, sandy dirt road right beside your house – use it. Oh, and don’t forget you never know how much you enjoy something until you can’t do it anymore, even if while you are doing it you think you hate it. Don’t believe yourself. You love it.