It has been over a month since I was in the accident, and thus it has been the same amount of time in which I have gone without running. Other than going to physical therapy three times a week I have completely sedentary. This is a huge difference in my lifestyle and I am still adjusting to the changes. It has certainly been a difficult transition.
Part of my routine was to wake up obscenely early and soon afterward head out the door to go for my run. Without a set reason, actually the need, to get up so early I have been sleeping in later than I have been in years. I am missing the beauty and stillness of the predawn hours, however. I am missing the barely cognizant shuffle in the dark to coffeemaker in the morning. I am missing the ritual of putting on my gear and shoes for a run. I miss stepping out into the cold and the quick uptick of breath and shudder before I acclimate to the temperature. Most of all I miss the release of stress and anxiety that occurs with every run. Emotions need to be reflected upon to avoid having them fester and causing inner turmoil.
While I am running it is relatively easy to maintain a very strict diet. Everything I put in my body serves a specific purpose and function. I know the calories I burned off and exactly how many I need to replace them. Now, however, I can not rely on my appetite to determine how much I should be consuming. There requires a much higher degree of self restraint and, indeed, it is a struggle to at times to shy away from the unhealthy foods. When I am running I know that if I eat processed foods or too many carbohydrates then I will feel off the next day and have a crappy run. At the moment there is no such deterrence. A day of poor food choices has little effect on how well I am able to sit around. By and large I have been sticking to my diet, though, so I can return quickly to running and hopefully heal quickly from my injuries. I also have no desire, and no money, to buy new clothes.
I have been able to stick to my diet by continuing to track everything I eat on my calorie spreadsheet. This has kept me basically on the straight and narrow, and shamed me when I have strayed, and there has not been any weight gain this past month. But it has been an effort and a pain keeping up on this. Maintaining a certain weight just to look a certain way, or even just to feel good about yourself, is much harder than keeping a certain weight to serve a real function. The trick to weight maintenance is to have it serve a purpose, to allow you to engage in an activity you love, and to increase the performance and ease at which you can do these things. The better I eat the better I run. I recover quicker and have more energy, reducing the chances of an unpleasant bonk during my runs. The lighter I am the faster I am, and I can feel the difference in the ease of my movements and the increase in my pace. Admittedly, this a dangerous game and the line between healthy awareness and unhealthy obsession is a small one.
Not having my preferred method to decompress every day has been extremely challenging. The stress and irritability that build up throughout the day does not have an outlet like it has previously, and it has been left to percolate. The release from running gave me a great deal of perspective on my life and calmed me down immensely. I can definitely feel this unease bubbling beneath the surface and I have had to find other ways to decompress throughout the day. Having other coping mechanisms is necessarily a bad a thing.
It has not all been unpleasant. I have been able to read much more than I have in years. I have read quite a few great books over the past few weeks and this has helped ease the loss of my everyday running routine. I have forgotten the sublime pleasures of spending a great deal of time everyday reading. Getting caught up and lost in the plot, quickly passing through the pages in a trance. Slogging through the difficult and tedious chapters and passages while distractedly taking numerous breaks. Thinking deeply and reflecting on what I just read, occasionally having an epiphany about my own life. In many ways this has been a good substitute for running and has helped me get through the more unpleasant days of recovery. This is something I am not going to let go after I am able to run again, making sure that I make time to read everyday. True to form, I have started tracking my reading data, which has helped since I am not able to track any miles at the moment.
I have been vacillating over the past few weeks between bitterness and anger that this happened, that someone’s carelessness is responsible for pain and situation I am in right now, and feeling a profound sense of gratitude that things were not worse. It is easy to ruminate, especially while I am in a great deal of discomfort or having a difficult carrying out a simple task, like putting on my shirt, on the bad fortune of the accident. I am spending an immense amount of time in physical therapy and money on medical expenses to get back to where I was. All this can feel overwhelming at times and it is easy to fall into the trap of negativity. So I make it a point to be grateful for my overall good health and the fact I will be recovering. Although it makes me slightly uneasy, I will be out running soon and before too long this will only be an unpleasant memory, an interesting story to recount, and a pile of medical bills gradually being paid off.