A friend of mine told me he swam for 90 minutes today.
He’s not training for an Ironman, or any triathlon.
He’s just nursing an injury to his ankle. We were briefly commiserating on our injuries, and I realized I was truly in the dumps if I was envious of swimming laps. Friends, I hate swimming. I’ve done triathlons, and they’re fine, and I love running and cycling (and especially love the recent partnership with 605 Running Co. and Spoke-N-Sport to promote both activities).
Just no. First of all, I’m terrible at it – awkward and inefficient (sort of how I am in general, too, in most of my activities of daily life). My brother in law is the swim coach at Williams College, and once I asked him to give me a few tips. He watched me swim. Looked thoughtful. Then offered a piece of advice:
“You know, you can move your legs.”
That was about it for me. That and the part where I’m just full on terrified of open water. I get all creeped out about what could touch me underwater (fish, plants, the feet of other swimmers, my own insecurities).
But I’m just over two weeks into this broken wrist, and while the level of pain has gone down, my level of depression about it just continues to rise. It would help if I could run, but the weird calf pull I had is still bothering me. I can walk all day and it doesn’t hurt, but after a few minutes of running, everything tightens up. I saw someone about it and hope to start physical therapy soon, or something.
I’ve been injured before – this is my seventh broken bone, I think – but for some reason this time is making me so much more frustrated. Or maybe it always does, and it’s just been so long I’ve forgotten about how it plays with your emotions. And it’s not like it won’t heal – none of this is permanent.
But to see the green grass and the bike path and the leaves coming in, and to know that I won’t be out there for a few weeks still has been tough.
At this point, I would welcome a 90-minute swim. Or a 30-minute pool run. Anything except this nothingness.
The other night, I came home from work and felt like I couldn’t get out of bed. I haven’t felt that way in a while, and it’s not a good feeling. It was sunny and still and gorgeous out. I wanted to trail run. Or ride my bike. Do yoga on the back patio. Something.
Instead, we went for a walk.
Sat on the deck and played backgammon.
It was a wonderful evening, and I was grateful for it.
But the next morning was crisp and cool and still, and I couldn’t make myself just go take a walk. We were leaving for another few days, and my arm hurt, and I told myself just rest, and start it all over again when you get back.
Well, we’re back.
I’m going to set up a bike trainer in the garage, I think, so if you see me pedaling in there and watching the cars go by, wave. I plan to meet a friend to run tomorrow, knowing that we might end up just walking instead. And I’ll go to the Thursday evening group run at Good Earth State Park, my favorite spring and summer tradition, and run as long as I can. Another friend is meeting me there, and she’s not a runner, so we’ll hike around.
Just like when you’re in the thick of training, you surround yourself with others who can keep you motivated and challenge you, I’m trying to make myself accountable to the people I love and who love me. I know it will help. It always does.
And sometimes you just need to make a plan, stick to it, and let your bones and emotions and life knit itself all back together again.
Jacqueline Palfy is a longtime runner, reader and writer, marathoner, mom and board member of the nonprofit Sioux Falls Area Running Club. Her contributions to the 605 Running Co. blog will appear every other Tuesday. You can follow her on Twitter @runnerJPK or reach her at email@example.com. Story ideas are encouraged.