On the 11th Day of Christmas, Running Gave to Me: Patience of an F’n Saint

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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 realityย 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.

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Patience paid off. I get to enjoy Minnesota winter running … pain free!

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?

I'm a college mental health counselor, runner, cyclist, wife, and mom to two strong-willed children. I started running in 2011 after the birth of my last child after years of love-hate relationships with fitness. My favorite distance is the half marathon, but I love the challenge of tackling the marathon. My biggest challenge is the mental aspect of racing, but my greatest strength is I'm stubborn and never give up! I'm a free spirit, an open book, and try to be authentic both in real life as well as in my internet life. Running has given me a place to face my fears, chase goals, and stay humble. Side note: I love cats and coffee and tacos.

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5 comments

  1. Running has definitely taught me patience in many forms. whether it be coming back from injury or illness…or pacing. I think patience in pacing has been the part that has really paid off and been put most to use. The fly and die method of running isn’t really conducive to the best time, and usually results in the second half of runs or races feeling absolutely awful. Learning to be patient, especially with longer races has really helped me enjoy distance more, and be more successful with PR’s and such.

  2. Running has increased my patience – most of the time. My husband will still be the one to teach my daughter to drive in a few years, unless something miraculous happens, lol. Injuries have definitely taught me patience. I’m just slowly getting back to running from injury and I’m not in a hurry. I think age also helps ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Uggghhh running in the deathly temps of Minnesota–give you so much credit! I don’t honestly miss those -20 degree days on the regular. I agree that running has helped me with my patience though, too! loved this post ! ๐Ÿ™‚