Patience has never been a virtue of mine. When I identify that I want something, the period of time between that decision and obtaining it is … minuscule. I purchased my car less than one day after I decided I needed a new one. I decided to go to graduate school on a whim. I even started running this way. I woke up one morning and said to myself, “I think I’m going to be a runner now.” And within a day or so, I plotted out my Couch to 5k training plan and the rest is history.
But thanks to running, you can now address me as St. Pumpkin, the f-ing patron saint of patience.
You can imagine that my impatient nature would not jive well with injury. And you’d be correct!
In the past, I’ve approached injury rehab like this:
Me: “Hello, doctor. What is the fastest way to get me running again?”
Doctor: “Well, you need to do A, B, C, and it’ll be about six to eight weeks.”
Me: “Hmm. I don’t care for A, but if I do B and C EXTRA hard, can we cut that down to two weeks?”
Doctor: *Blank stare*
Much to my surprise, this approach didn’t work well. AT. ALL. Even so, I tried this method a few more times, juuuuust to make sure my way wasn’t the right way. In the end, I always ended up feeling stressed and pressured to heal, and would inevitably rush myself back to running too quickly and then extend my injury period even longer than it would have been had I heeded the doctor’s advice.
Creating your own reality doesn’t actually get you your way, even if you want it really bad. This was a tough pill to swallow, and when I found myself back at my chiropractor in May to address my post-marathon tendinitis, I knew I had to do it differently this time.
I had to be patient. I had to trust my chiropractor. I had to put in the work to strengthen my weaknesses and learn prevention. I had to learn how to deal with the emotions that emerge when life doesn’t go according to my plan. I had to, once and for all, stop acting like the rules didn’t apply to me.
I had to wait. After I waited, I had to wait some more. And after that? A little more waiting. This injury held on for a long time, but this time it didn’t rock my world as much as it would have in the past. I had found acceptance in my situation and stopped fighting against my body. And through this acceptance, I was able to step back and listen to my body. I became more in tune with the pain in my leg and learned to make decisions based on how I was feeling from day to day.
When I finally returned to running in mid-August, my initial goal for myself was to immediately rebuild my base mileage, with the goal of running 30-40 miles per week within a month or so. Because I was committed to only doing what my body would allow, I actually haven’t even reached 30 miles per week yet, and I’ve been back to running for four months. Soft tissue injuries have a tendency to hold on for awhile, so as soon as I felt my tendinitis start to flare, I gave it the rest it needed and adjusted my pace accordingly.
What I have right now is a solid, healthy base. I have a leg that hasn’t had any twinges of pain for about two months. I have a new understanding of my body and appreciation for what it can do. It is a wonderful feeling to finally reach the point where I am able to set aside my ego, because this has allowed me to learn how to slow down and listen and for once in my life, be patient.
Has running increased your patience?