I won’t bore you with the details...the short story is that a nagging foot injury turned ugly and left me first limping along, then strapped into an air-cast, then trying somethingANYTHING to trick my body and mind into thinking I wasn’t falling apart. Or going insane from the inactivity.
I’ve long said that nothing does it for me like running. But I’ve never had to test that declaration in such a brutal way before now. My doctors were very clear and very firm: no running, no yoga, no bare feet, no fun. Find yourself a suitable, no-impact alternative activity, and try to stop glaring at us.
First alternative activity: WALLOWING. I found a cozy spot on the couch and began systematically binge-eating tortilla chips, dark chocolate and red wine. Usually all at the same time. I trained hard at the lounging and put the refrigerator through its paces, but it turns out pity parties require even more stamina than marathons. I could only sing Sinead’s ode to running so many times before even I got sick of myself. Nooooothing Compares 2 U!
Eventually I sucked it up, joined a gym with a pool and dove into my very least-favorite exercise: SWIMMING. My biggest surprise was how pro everyone at the local YMCA looked. Exactly nobody else showed up goggle-less and carrying a Finding Nemo kickboard. Turns out, swimming is nothing like running. Maybe you’ve noticed before, but in the pool you can’t take a breath any old time you want. You need rhythm and timing just to keep yourself from drowning. You also need a PhD in Pool Protocol if you don’t want to look like an idiot splashing around in the wrong lane, incapable of doing a proper flip turn.
Because I’m such a lame swimmer, and because I figured things couldn’t get any more humiliating, I decided to try AQUA JOGGING, which is Running’s dorkiest cousin. If Aqua Jogging rode a bike, it would be a recumbent for sure. In fact, Aqua Jogging is so dorky it would ride a recumbent to Senior Prom. I know, I’ve heard the chorus of praises: “Aqua Jogging! It’s better for your back! No impact! So refreshing!” It also requires a bright blue floatation belt and feels like you are mall-walking past a chlorinated J.C. Penney’s. That said, I must admit that I grew almost fond of this goofy exercise. Here I was, moving in an upright, runner-ish fashion and if I planned ahead I didn’t even have to get my hair wet. Who’s the dork now??
After 6 weeks in the pool, I got the greenlight to do low-impact activities like the ELLIPTICAL TRAINER. Turns out, the elliptical is very much like running, as long as you suspend everything you know about forward motion. If you overthink the elliptical and try to put “one foot in front of the other” you are doomed to topple off and fall at the feet of your neighboring gym rat. Or so I hear. Once I got comfortable on the elliptical, I couldn’t stop. I was so grateful to be sweating again. (Note: Please don’t remind me of that sentence come August.)
Around this time I also got the ok to go HIKING with my family. Fresh air! Hooray! In some of my happy places with my favorite people! Alas, one final spoiler alert...hiking with kids is also not running. Even my bossiest running friends don’t ask me to carry their snacks or give them piggie backs up the big hills. It’s the little things I miss, really.
So here we are...63 days out and my body is healing. It seems my foot did not sustain any permanent damage. Not sure I can say the same about my sanity.