A couple of my runners are learning some important life lessons. Lessons about expectation, disappointment, and injury.
Stephen, a freshman new to the school, had been running strong enough to claim a top seven varsity spot. Knee pain he could no longer bear led him to a doctor and his order to cease and desist for three weeks. His training came to a screeching halt.
I feel their pain. I've been there. In the first five years of ultrarunning, I suffered nine metatarsal fractures, medial malleolus and femoral neck fractures, a torn tibial aponeuroses, surgery on both feet and an ankle including seven incisions and eight screws, along with multiple soft tissue injuries. Like a tadpole, into the pool I went, deep water running sometimes for three hours at a time to maintain fitness. After a period of time, I emerged with fresh legs to train like a madman, only to break something else. Back I went into the cold, deep pond of despair. It was an endless, maddening cycle. I wanted so much to be fit, racing fast and strong. But it was not to be. . .at least for a period.
Unfortunately, though we do our best to be smart and avoid injury, sometimes it just becomes our lot. It's frustrating. It's painful in so many ways; physically, emotionally, and sometimes even spiritually. Being a wounded warrior makes us feel less of an athlete, less of a contributor on the team. Sometimes, we even feel that we lose all connection with the team. But despite how we feel, it won't last forever.
It's hard sitting on the sideline watching others train and compete. There are feelings of loneliness and inadequacies. Disappointment. Betrayal by our own bodies. Healing time moves at a slower rate than the hands on a clock face. The wait is excruciating.
But--and this is the tough part--sometimes we need to wait. We wait not in a vacuum but in the healing atmosphere of expectant hope. We put things in perspective. We learn to be content. We understand to make the most of our down time so we are best prepared when we are again off and running. Patience takes on new meaning as we wait. And waiting means that we slow down enough to clearly see needs of others not realized when racing along at full speed.
Sure, a timeout is seldom pleasant or welcomed. But, neither is it the end of the world. Hang on, kiddos. This too shall pass.