Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Four Letter Words

As a runner there are a few words I do not like to hear. These words make me cringe. They are offensive and go against what I believe in. However, there have been a few times when these words were aimed at me, and as hard as they were on my ears, somewhere deep inside I knew they would be good for the rest of me.

These are words like rest, stop, or time (off). Okay, so that last one is more like a phrase, but you know what I mean. These are words I am not interested in. Not because I’m some masochistic fanatic (believe me, there are others who do way more than I ever thought of doing), but because I LOVE what I do.

I LOVE to run. I love to sweat. I love to feel the air in my lungs and the burn in my muscles. I love to push the limits of what I am currently able to do in order to do more. I want to run faster. I want to run farther. I want to sink deeper into a pilates stretch, I want to strengthen my core, and tone up my arms. I love feeling tired because I’ve worked hard. I love falling into my soft, cool sheets after a day of physical exertion. I love…I want…I am…addicted.

Over the past year, however, my back has chosen to take issue with some of these activities. I’ve been in physical therapy for two months now in order to resolve some of these problems, and yesterday the four letter words I’ve dreaded so much were spoken. Out loud. Right at me.

I cringed. I made a sad face. I argued. What about 3 to 5 miles a day? What about 3 miles twice a day? All to no avail. Three miles a day for a week. And no pilates. Great.

I left the physical therapy office and headed to the grocery store with a heavy heart. Still, as I browsed the frozen food aisle I tried to look on the bright side. Less hours spent running would mean more time to do the stretches and core strengthening exercises I’d been assigned by the physical therapist. I have a half-marathon approaching and I’d be tapering for that anyway. I could take Chance for more walks. I could go on bike rides…

So this morning I put some of those brighter ideas to practice. I joined two friends for a slower 4 mile run (I know, not what they said but I’m starting for real on Friday of this week) and got home by 6:30. I took my ipod into the study and with Third Day singing “Born Again,” a pup by my side, and the morning sunlight coming in through the study window, I did my exercises and stretches. It was peaceful. It was a gentler end to the morning than the usual 7:30-minute pace for the last half mile with something by Kanye West or the Black-Eyed Peas keeping me pumped and pushing.

I took my time, counting out the 30 seconds for each stretch, matching the rhythm of the music and letting the words of the song sink in…

I’ve a feeling in my soul
And I pray that I’m not wrong
That the life I have now,
It is only the beginning…

It feels like I’m born again
It feels like I’m living
For the very first time
For the very first time

It feels like I’m breathing
It feels like I’m moving
For the very first time
For the very first time
In my life.

As I stood to finish the last of my stretching, I thought maybe there was a time for those dreaded four letter words to be spoken…and maybe they weren’t so bad after all.

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