The whining runner

I’ve been thinking of rebranding myself from Sub-three to  -wait for it – the whining runner.

We all know one.

Besides it could be kind of fun. I could lag just behind you on runs and moan things like, “Are we there yet?” And, “My feet hurt.”

Oh wait. You’ve been hearing that a lot from me recently. Plantar, remember?

Yeah, it sucks.

Oh, sorry. I’m whining again.

Part of the problem is the very day plantar came to visit I started this blog, which placed me in the odd position of writing more about running than actually doing it. I fail to see the irony in that.

Hmm…that sounded just a little bit like a whine, didn’t it? Damn. Sorry. (I’m Canadian, eh. We apologize a lot. Sorry about that too. Really.)

You know and I know, though, that I’m not going to become the whining runner (despite the chorus of peanut gallery voices I hear out there), or that I’m going to stop running. The plantar will go away. It just takes patience.

Frankly, at some point, our injuries, mine and yours, become First World problems. If we can’t run, we can spin, swim, do yoga, or any other number of things. We can concentrate on our wellness, for instance, working at ways to cure the problem rather than dwelling on the negativity of the injury.

If the injury is long-term and you must stay involved with running, what better time to give back and volunteer at races. Your handing a water cup to someone and telling them “Go hard,” means a lot.

I hung medals around the necks of sweat-drenched runners one year as they crossed the finish line and it was a moving experience to find myself on the other side. As I slid the medal over the neck of an exhausted racer, my arms coming in contact with their slippery wet necks, they’d often burst out with some surprising exclamation. It was their first 10 km! They’d just run with their son or daughter! They’d never run so far before!

The human spirit is fantastic.

But if you’re that miserable, that unhappy, that you can’t stand the idea of being at a race because you’re not the one killing it on the course, and if every beautiful blue sky day torments you, then you may have to take drastic measures: leave running for a year.

You gasp.

But in the book Timeless Running Wisdom – and who’s going to argue with a book titled like that? – author Richard Benyo advises you to start over if you can’t get beyond your injury.

Benyo’s serious. He writes (and he’s talking here as much about burn-out as injury, but the two can go hand-in-hand) “It sounds like treason to say this, but when the joy of running has left you hollow and empty, the best thing you can do is go with the feeling. Give it up, at least for the time being.”

He means it: no running, no thinking about running, no obsession about it. “Make a deal with yourself,” Benyo writes, that you will abandon the lifestyle of running, which, you must admit, seems to have abandoned you!”

For how long? A year. Sounds harsh, but as Benyo points out, a number of top runners have actually returned stronger than before and set records after extended lay-offs because of injuries.

Sometimes what seems like an ending is merely starting over. And a positive attitude will get you a long way. It’s what led you across the finish line, isn’t it?

Shine on, you crazy diamonds.


About subthree

A multiple award-winning journalist, I'm currently a contributing editor with both Canadian Running and Canadian Cycling magazines. My articles have appeared in Explore, Canadian Geographic, enRoute, The National Post, The Globe and Mail, and many other magazines and newspapers. Formerly a competitive cross-country mountain biker, I switched to running in 2006. I've run seven marathons, qualifying for Boston five times (and which I've run once). Generally, I've placed or won in my age group in races, in distances ranging from five and 10 kms to half and full marathons. I've also taught spin classes at a number of leading Eastern Canadian gyms. Sub-three was a 2012 #Runchat finalist for Best Overall Blog.
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2 Responses to The whining runner

  1. Rebekah says:

    A year?! Dude, you are so much stronger than me. I don’t think I could do that. Agreed, though, the human spirit is fantastic and I know yours can rise above. Kudos.

    • subthree says:

      It would be tough, wouldn’t it, Rebekah? I think the addictive nature of running – because of the endorphins, the fresh air, the self-respect and more it brings to a runner – makes it very hard for committed athletes to stop, even when they’re injured. That’s something else that book, Timeless Running Wisdom, addresses as well. Thank you for the compliment and for reading.

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