A Running Sabbatical or Something Longer?

A running sabbatical or something longer? Yeah that is the question I am struggling to answer.

Running has been a part of my identity for over fifty years, but it seems like my days as a runner may be ending. It’s been close to five months since my knee surgery, and I’m still not walking without discomfort. While I have made some progress and have been able to build up to running a couple of miles, it hasn’t come easy or without cost (physically and emotionally).

After an easy 20-minute run last week, the resulting pain/discomfort levels reached the point that I had to re-evaluate whether running is worth the pain and discomfort that I am experiencing.

It isn’t.

As much as I have attempted to minimize or ignore the signs, it seems likely that my days as a runner are over – at least for now. It’s not the direction I wanted to go, but I can’t continue to run, irritate the knee, suffer through the rest of the week with a bad knee, and then repeat the same process over again. It’s also something that the surgeon and I discussed back in October 2022 at great length, and I understood might be one of the outcomes and risks after surgery.

I just didn’t want to believe that it would happen this way.

Yeah, it sucks.

My storage cabinet – the running shoes shown are legacy shoes I won’t ever run in again, but I can’t bring myself to get rid of 😂

Yesterday I packed up all the running shoes I don’t want to use for walking, Garmin watches, Stryd pod, running clothes and running jackets into a large tote and put it out in the back of the garage, in my storage cabinet with a bunch of other stuff on top of it. So that on a whim, I don’t grab my running stuff, wander out the door, and go for a run, which knowing me I would do.

I’m stoopid that way – sometimes.

On social media, I’ve unfollowed or whatever the site calls it and have or will move away from most of my former running community. This might sound extreme, but seeing what others are doing with their running, the new running shoes that are coming out and all the other sirens call to gear up to get out the door for a run isn’t what I need right now.

I need to move away from being motivated to be Harold the runner and give my body the opportunity to heal as much as it is going to heal. To put it bluntly, I can’t continue to reinjure (which I believe is what I’m doing when I run) my left knee just to get a run in and then suffer for a week or more attempting to do the activities of daily life afterwards. Those activities need to done more than me running.

It also might mean that the 20:00 minute run on Tuesday, April 18 was my last as a runner. It’s disappointing and frustrating, but at this point, running isn’t a feasible option. I must let the knee heal as much as it can, without my attempts to be a runner interfering with that.

I have missed and will miss the running community, the new running shoes, and other gear, but I have to listen to my body, and that means taking a sabbatical from running. Then see where it leads after that.

For now, it’s time to prioritize my health and overall well-being. There are many other forms of exercise that I can still do, and as the knee heals, I can strengthen the rest of my body and knee. Who knows? Perhaps I’ll be able to be a runner again one day, I just don’t see it happening anytime soon, if ever.

Only time will tell.

It’s time for me to take care of myself and heal.

In the overall scheme of things, not being able to run isn’t something that is necessary to continue living a good life. But when you’ve identified as being a runner for more than fifty years and enjoyed being one, it’s a huge change in my life, but one that I’ve also had a bit of time to think about.

It’s also a sign that I’m getting old and having to compromise certain parts of my life, to keep moving forward towards whatever comes next. Time marches on and as bodies get older, we eventually have to accept the changes that have been brought about by the misadventures of our youth. For me it was too much basketball, baseball, softball, falling off buildings, banging around on a buoy deck or misjudging jumping around on rocks, which in addition to running have all contributed to where I am now.

I got my money’s worth out that knee before the surgery and hopefully it will get better than it is now if I give it a chance to heal.

Keep smiling, it’s all part of the journey 😊

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