I am the first to admit that I can be stubborn at times. And when I use the term, it means that I expect much from myself. Maybe too much at times, but I know myself well enough that I’m able to adjust as needed. I’m grateful for this.
Many, many years ago, I was beginning to experience some leg pain that was impacting my running. I went to some guy in the city who said I had osteoarthritis in my hip and would never be able to run again. Devastated does not even begin to describe my reaction. Well, I went to another guy, had a total hip replacement and was soon running again. About 10 years later, the other hip, obviously feeling neglected, let me know that it, too, needed replacing. Found a new guy, had the surgery, and recovered—even stronger than before. That was December 2017.
RUN STRONG. REPEAT.
A few months after the second replacement, I slipped on some ice in our driveway and broke my wrist. A month after that surgery, my mom died. 2018 was shaping up to be the year the black cloud came a-visiting.
I went through several months of misery, self-pity, self-loathing, too many vodka martinis at night and lots of carbs and sugar. It all sucked. The fall on my driveway had also affected my leg in a way that created intense pain and caused me to limp at times. An MRI showed nothing. I was afraid that I had messed up the latest replacement piece, but I did not. But slowly, I began to crawl out from under the weighted blanket of funk I had wrapped myself in.
I’ve been asked how I did manage to crawl out of that darker place. I’m not sure I can give a clear, cohesive answer, but let me do some free-associating now and see what comes up:
- Family obligations- I’ve got 2 people here that rely on me. No matter how shitty I was feeling, I still managed to do the basics. No one went without. But there was this underlying pull that I could be doing just a bit more. That began to propel me out.
- Would my mom want me to be in this state? Clearly, no. My mom went through hell after her divorce and really pushed through, initially because of her kids, but she later created a really nice life for herself.
- With the exception of losing my mom, I’ve been through worse times. On the “shit scale” this was not even close to other past life events.
- As I said above, I’m stubborn. I like a challenge. And, to be vain for a moment, the idea of allowing myself to give into chronic pain that can be corrected by my actions is a non-starter. To not be able to do what other guys at the gym my age were doing? Unacceptable.
- Tied into the above is the image I have for myself. Content, fit, brave. I can’t be these things if I’m feeling sorry for myself. And to drive the point further, imagery is key here. When we can imagine ourselves at our best and try to embrace it, well, there should be no stopping us.
I got back into the gym. I forced myself to focus on my legs and regaining strength. It was humbling. All around me, guys my age, doing things that I should be able to do. The self-loathing was coming back, but I kept telling myself that I will get back and will be stronger.
As my physical strength increased, I had to start taking stock of the rest of me. I was still pretty messed up from losing my mom and my manners of coping were not helping. I looked at my family history--high blood pressure, heart disease, cholesterol issues, alcoholism, depression. It was a stellar family resume. I did not want to replicate this.
RUN STRONG. REPEAT.
I got myself into therapy again. I began to really examine my alcohol dependence. I have quit drinking through the years. Which, to be truthful, is not really quitting. It’s just a detour to some other destructive habit (sugar). My resentment over losing parents to compromised health conditions was and is something I do not wish upon my daughter. The dark cloud had to be vanquished.
So, according to my counter, I am 449 days being alcohol-free. I feel stronger emotionally and physically than I ever have. But the game’s not over. Far from.
RUN STRONG. REPEAT.
I’m now training for a half-marathon. Yes, there are none scheduled at the moment, but there is one scheduled in my imagination. I’m closing in on my 3rd week of training. 11 weeks to go. So far so good. After years of not feeling strong enough, not feeling that I have control over what is happening in my body, I have made substantial positive changes to that story and gotten out from under the cloud that was 2018.
I like challenges. I need challenges. Maybe it’s something in this addictive personality of mine. Maybe I need the rush. Doesn’t really matter. Since the pandemic broke into our worlds, I’ve been running along with guided runs on the Nike Running Club app. Check it out. It’s beyond inspiring.
Run Strong. Repeat. is a guided speed run in the Nike app. Interval training. But it resonates with me because it’s telling me to celebrate what I have accomplished, remember that accomplishment and repeat it. And, again, it doesn’t have to be perfect, or faster. Just do it again. I have to remember the hurdles and the joy to propel me further.
I’ve had a lot of clients express to me during this period of feeling underappreciated and undervalued at their places of employment. I get it. Back when I was in the corporate world, long before we even knew that a pandemic could visit us again, I felt the same. It would be great if we could all be showered with praise on a regular basis, but people are fighting to keep their jobs now, and it is the rare boss/company that is managing their people correctly. Somehow, I tell these clients, we have to find those wins ourselves. Find things, no matter how big or small, that make you grateful. Look at your past wins. Can I replicate this? How did I feel in the moment? If I can’t find this at my job, ask yourself, “Where else?” I’m not saying to go and quit your job to find fulfillment (but if it’s an option, maybe consider it!), but don’t put all of your eggs in the job basket. You are more than that. Especially now.
Run Strong. Repeat.