The loneliness of the injured long distance runner

I don’t consider myself to be a professional athlete by any means (although I once found $20 while running, which essentially means that I was paid to run but who even understands these amateur vs. professional sporting rules???), but I do actually enjoy long-distance running to the point where I could see myself running 10km or half-marathon distances on a regular basis.  However, make no mistake: running for more than 45 minutes can cause me to experience moments of deep boredom, and yes, loneliness of a sort, and general feelings of why am I doing this? This is weird.

But paradoxically, nothing is worse (uhh in the context of being an able-bodied runner) than getting injured and suddenly being, full stop, unable to run.  The fact is, I exist under the default assumption that if I want to run, I’ll be able to run, in the same way that if I want to play tennis, my body can do that; if I decide to take up steeplechase, yup, no problem. So when I get injured to the point where the act of running is too painful to continue with, the assumption that I have complete control over my body — the assumption I’ve been working under for most of my adult life — is suddenly revealed to be tenuous and conditional, as it has been all along, and that is always and will always be a bit shocking to me. It reminds me that this body will break down, that I have limited amounts of control over it, that I am not invincible or physically special in this way.

And yet, for now: while long distance running can be boring and lonely, suddenly not being to run at all is far, far worse and when I am able to run again, I will try not to take that loneliness, and everything is fleetingly signifies, for granted.


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