Two years ago today I was hobbling across the finish line of a half marathon I never should have run. For the better half of the training, I had been running with an injured knee. Looking back, I now realize how absolutely stubborn I am when it comes to myself. My idea of hard work has always been push harder, go faster, and jump over all of the obstacles. Ignore them. At the time I wasn’t clearly able to see that success could be anything other than a receiving that medal. And in going after what I wanted, and not what I needed that day, I’ve been hurting ever since. And so, just as stubborn and focused, I ventured down a new path of healing myself. A new motivation. A new end goal. A new way of understanding hard work, and hoping with everything in me that I could recover, and one day get the chance to learn from my mistakes. I set out to find if hard work would pay off, even if, to me, it didn’t feel like working hard. I already really don’t like this. But thankfully, as tenacious as I can be sometimes, I do value my health first and foremost. So I knew I needed to do what I needed to do, despite the costs.
I stopped running. And while running is not exactly my favorite form of exercise anyway, at times I absolutely love it and need it as an outlet. So every few months over the past two years I would run a few miles at a time when I felt like I needed to. But no longer with the convenience of walking outside my door, I had to drive to find trails. Something gentler on my joints. The trails were nice, but I missed the convenience. Ah. One of my favorite things about running.
I had to hold back in most yoga poses, and I still do. I had to cut out some yoga poses all together. Now this part I really hated. “I haven’t been practicing yoga for that long. Damn. I was just getting good. And since when do my knees hurt in Warrior I?”, I thought, “that’s an easy pose”.
Even the joy of going to see live music became a space of sadness and frustration. Just standing there..my legs felt heavy. Something was way off. Can I just go back to normal please?
I even cut out dairy. Well, not completely, that’s been a tough one.
These past two years have also been filled with a dozen different vitamin researches and trial runs, home therapy and stretching, exploring natural remedies, and learning more about the human form, along with feelings of fear and hopelessness that I would never get better. Not even to run but just to walk and feel normal. Just to stand and feel normal. To have my knees not crack every step I walked up the stairs to work.
And just the other week, my knees stopped making cracking noises. Just last week I ran over 10 miles! This weekend at the Spartan race I hopped fences and squatted carrying 50-60 pound sandbags, boulders and buckets filled with rocks. I got to enjoy every single moment of everything I have worked for in taking care of myself. The countless sacrifices. The feeling is incredible to know that my hard work really has paid off, even though holding back was never exactly my idea of hard work before.
The marathon I never should have run ended up being one of the biggest mistakes that I will forever be grateful for. I was given the opportunity to practice patience. I was given the chance to learn from my mistakes. So though I’m doing better now, I will continue on this self-loving path I’m on. Holding back. Easing off. And restraint.
I used to think pushing myself was the only form of hard work and the only means to achievement. Turns out backing off and doing less is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
I have learned that perseverance is sustainable when it is rooted in patience, and patience is sustainable when it is rooted in self love.
So now…patience is my new favorite way to live.