To Run or Not to Run…

Why is running so important to me? – That’s a really good question. I’m not sure if I can fully answer it, but I’ll try.

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I was never a runner in my child or adolescent years. In fact, I hated running. Running was the bane of my existence. I always felt like I wasn’t good enough in most things I did, and running only backed up that thought. I always said I “couldn’t” run. I didn’t know how to breathe and I didn’t know how to handle the ache in my muscles. So I just stuck to swimming – I loved swimming. Being in the water was, quite possibly, one of the best feelings to me. I was not, nor would I ever be, a runner…or so I thought.

Then, one day last May, I decided I wanted to run. The thought was insane. I hated running, why did I want to run? But I gave in to the thought and I ran. And you know what, I fell in love with it. Even at 240 pounds and even though I could barely run a quarter mile without thinking I was going to die, I fell in love with it and I kept trying.

Running was the first thing in my life that was hard for me and I knew would be a challenge, but I kept going anyway. You see, I’m my own worst critic and I’ve never been very confident in my ability to do anything. When confronted with anything that might be hard or challenging, anything that there was even a possibility of me failing at, I would quit. Quitting was easier than trying and failing…or so I thought at the time.

So back to why running is so important to me, running taught me a very important life lesson. Running taught me that, if I was willing to try, I would find out that I was capable of much more than I thought I was – both mentally and physically. Running became a release for me. When I had a bad day, I ran. When I had a good day, I ran. When I was sad, I ran. When I was happy, I ran…you get the picture.

Then, running became an addiction and it took over my life. I lived and breathed running. I got injured, but I kept running.

Now, as I’m recovering from surgery to remove the sesamoid bone that I shattered…from continuing to run on an injured foot, I am reassessing my deep desire to run again. Last month, I was told by my rheumatologist that I should NEVER run again. I have a rare disorder called Elhers-Danlos Syndrome that effects my joints (and many other parts of my body). Because of this disorder, my joints are very loose and I have had frequent dislocations and sprains of my joints, throughout my life. My ankles and knees are some of my most unstable joints and, obviously, running is not very productive when then joints in the legs are weak.

But running brings me so much joy. I can’t really just STOP running altogether, can I? I mean, running does not define me. Whether or not I run is not the most important part of my life, and I do recognize that…but to be totally honest, I’m just not ready to give it up. So I’ve been doing some research. My joints will never be as stable as most peoples joints, but there are things I can do to protect them. There are things I can do to run again.

I’m not going to give up on running. I will protect my joints and I will be smart about it. But I will still run. It may not be much, and that’s okay.

Being a runner is so much more than running. It’s the determination and the drive to want more for myself and my life than I ever dreamed possible. It’s the willingness to dream big and do the work necessary to achieve those dreams. Being a runner has given me to confidence to also face struggles in other aspects of my life because if I can run, I can do anything. I am an overcomer!

I refuse to let this disorder control my life. Some of the most joyful times in my life have been during a good run and I will not give that up without a fight.

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