For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to do more. I joined every club in school, signed up for too many committees at work, and found ways to stretch the limits of what a person can accomplish in 24 hours. I have a tendency to overcommit myself, but the truth is I enjoy staying busy.
For the majority of my adult life, distance running has been a huge part of my identity. My drive to push for more fits naturally here, where people are constantly pushing to run farther or faster, or both at the same time. When I connected with the running community, I found my people.
I ran my first half marathon in 2009, and every year since then I’ve completed at least one half or full marathon. After a decade of distance running, the streak ends this year. In April I withdrew from Eugene, recovery has been a maddeningly slow process. I’m running a bit now, but my limit is around five miles. There’s no safe way for me to get to 13.1 (much less 26.2) by the end of the year, and I’ve learned the hard way what pushing too hard can do.
While my marathon streak may have ended, this has been a year of a lot of other milestones – my first bone bruise, my first DNS, my first physical therapy appointment. 2019 has been humbling and frustrating, and I’ve had to readjust my expectations so many times that I can hardly remember what it felt like to be a marathoner. Running for 4+ hours is unfathomable to me now. I can’t run for longer than an hour, and I wobble and fall in yoga poses I used to be able to hold with ease.
This year I’ve had to find a new routine and reframe who I am. That desire for more may have been what got me here in the first place, but I refuse to let it derail me further. Instead of pushing for more, I’m learning to be content with what I have. Sitting still doesn’t come easy, but I’m (re)-learning to rest, recover, and be here now.
But I am making progress, slowly. Little by little, I’m increasing my distance and am able to run a few miles a few times a week. It’s lovely. This is what I wanted. This is what I was missing. The amount I’m running is what normal people do all the time to stay healthy. This is enough.
Is it ever, though? Most days I’m thrilled to be back on the trails in any capacity, but some days I fall into the comparison trap of what I could do just a few months ago.
If I’m not careful, I get sucked into the void of thinking of all I’ve lost. I lost the Eugene Marathon experience I had trained for, I lost significant strength and stamina while healing, and I lost six months of exploring the trails on gorgeous spring and summer days.
But what good does that do me? My body needed that time to heal, and there’s no sense in beating myself up when there wasn’t even an isolated incident that caused the injury. It was death by a thousand paper cuts. The combination of slightly misaligned hips + two marathons in six months + shoes slightly past their prime + not enough strength work or cross training + an aging body + some plain old bad luck was more than I could handle. Perhaps I could have withstood two or even three of those, but all of them at once was too simply much.
My mileage has decreased and may stay low for the foreseeable future, but so many other parts of my life have increased – I have more empathy, more patience, more gratitude for every step. I have more willingness to trust that each person is on their own unique journey, and more certainty that comparing myself to others won’t solve anything.
Training for a marathon feels like a lifetime ago, and in many ways, it was. Being injured knocked me out of my routine, and recovery has changed more than just my hip strength. I can’t say I’m grateful for the injury, but the last six months have taught me more than I could have possibly learned by staying on my tried and true path.
I don’t know what the future holds, and I’m trying not to get ahead of myself. The last six months were so hard that frankly, I don’t want to. Not yet, anyway.
I may not have another marathon in me. I may not even have another half. For now, I can do a little, and little by little I’ll keep trying.
This is enough. I am enough.