What does that mean actually? Why not call it a comeback, if that’s what it is? Don’t call it a comeback; I’ve been here for years. Is that how the song goes? But that isn’t how my running life has gone. I’ve been away. For a good long while. Completely away since March. More or less away since October. So, this really is a comeback.
In a lot of ways, the whole last year of running feels like a blur or a strange experiment. Or maybe a massive tangent. Maybe it was an education in the school of hard rocks. After all, the plantar fasciitis that stole a year of my running life first cropped up on the cobble-stoned streets of Berlin last July. I ran 100 miles that month, committed to my monthly mileage goal, come hell or high water. Or plantar fasciitis. I ran in the worn-out shoes I had brought with me to Berlin that I somehow did not think to replace. Even though I am fluent in German and there are plenty of running stores in Berlin.
I’ve learned a lot in the past year, in running and in life. I knew I had some changes to make and in some ways, all I could do was leap off a cliff and start making them without really knowing where I was heading. I knew I wanted to run better and live more truly, but I didn’t know how to do those things or even really what that meant. It turns out there’s a lot of truth to the old adage, the more you know, the more you realize what you don’t know.
I certainly never expected these changes to lead me to church. I mean, that’s probably close to the last thing I expected. But with an injured foot for months and months and a son asking if running wasn’t the reason we never managed to go and a daughter mostly willing to come along, and suddenly friends at church instead of acquaintances and a gifted young pastor and just a little reaching out from the congregation – well, suddenly we were going to church. A puzzle piece clicked into place.
I spent the fall trying to run in a better way and that didn’t really click into place. I learned a ton. That increasing mileage probably doesn’t just mean running a couple of extra miles before circuits class. That the overall structure of the week might matter. That some strength exercises are probably better than others for faster running. That there might be an actual point to some sort of real warm-up and potentially also a cool down. That I am not too embarrassed to do drills, though it helps a lot if someone else tells me to do them. That I can train alone. That I have a surprising level of commitment and determination. Actually, I already knew that last one. But I also learned that if the puzzle pieces aren’t fitting together, no amount of commitment and determination is going to allow them to click into place.
So, pardon me if I do call it a comeback. I’m a different runner than I was a year ago. I’m a different person than I was a year ago. Do you hear that? It’s some puzzle pieces clicking. Let’s see what happens next.