running-capable

The post I was going to write was a different one. I was going to write about how body types don’t determine passion. People talk about a ‘runner’s body’ but the fact is if they lined up at any fun run in the country they’d have to drastically alter their perception because all body types are lining up at that start line. I was going to write about how you should do what you love, not necessarily what your body is best suited to or you would be better at.

You know, I am really good at quite a few things that I intensely dislike. Just because I am good at it, doesn’t mean I like it. And some things that I really love, I’m not that crash hot at. The research would say it takes ten years or 10,000 hours of practice to master something. But the truth is, some people just have a different starting point. Their genetics have just given them a whole lot more than the rest of us. But those 10,000 hours will benefit you just as much. You will learn just as much about yourself. It will improve you, just as much.

So I was thinking about writing about how Kate has a pretty typical ‘runner’s body’ because she leans up really quickly – even after having four kids, whereas my body holds onto weight like there’s some kind of prize involved and tend towards the more muscular so I probably look like I have a more stocky, weight-lifting body type. But it doesn’t determine either what we are good at, or what we love.

Which is ironic. Because a lot of people (some health professionals, some coaches and some friends) have been telling me this week that I should rethink running. Some said I should maybe take a break from it. Some said that the long distance running is putting a lot of impact on my hips which are pretty shocking to begin with and some said if I continued on I could end up with a really chronic injury.

Nothing is ever impossible. But some things take more work than others. And some things will really test how much you really want something.

I love crossfit and I love weights. And I’m pretty devastated when I have to take a break from that due to injury or something else. There is a great sense of accomplishment in that for me. But when people say to me maybe you shouldn’t run. Well that’s a different thing. Imagine if it was that simple, that easy to just not run. Like I could do that and it wouldn’t impact every facet of my life.

But it’s not so easy. And I would never want it to be a choice that I could easily make. Because I love it too much to leave it so easily. It’s everything I love in one place. It’s hard work and mental strength and the morning air on your face and the wind in the trees. It’s the beginning of my journey and the source of my strength. Running feels like freedom from every limit that was ever placed on you or you imagined for yourself.

And I am in rather a unique position. I can still go to crossfit. I can still run. But if I push too hard or ignore the weaknesses I could end up in a situation where I wouldn’t be able to do either of those things. So I have to be realistic. I might be able to run and lift weights but I’m still injured. And I will be for some time. If I don’t address the cause, I could head into pretty risky territory.

So this is what the beginning looks like. The beginning looks like about an hour of rehab exercises a day. The beginning looks like holding myself short of my abilities. The beginning looks like strength building. And there is a great deal of sadness in the beginning too. Because I have worked really hard for a long time and starting over is, well it’s like none of that stuff ever happened. Like a big eraser of injury that cancels out everything that came before.

I have had two major challenges in my running over the last few years. One was fairly early on where I had a debilitating shin splint injury and could barely walk, let alone anything else. And the other one was where I really doubted my ability to ever improve my speed. In both situations, there is one thing that I came to that got me through. I decide. That’s it. I decide. And I will choose my hard.

But even at the beginning I can sense that once all the work is done, I could be so much stronger and faster than I ever was before. I could be bulletproof.

“I like what running does for me, even when I’m not running.”

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Zoey Dowling

Written by: Zoey Dowling

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  1. I can't imagine how you are feeling because I have not been where you are, but I do know that you have a lot of strength (body and mind), What is it they say, "past actions predict future behaviour". I think you have shown that you are willing to put in the work, the work that many of us can't or wont. You have been able to get to this point because of that, and I see no reason why that will change now. Yes its a beginning, but its not an ending!

  2. I was very moved reading your post. I could feel your love and passion. I have no dought you will come back even stronger. Please keep us posted. God Bless prayers. With you Donna

  3. What an amazing, inspiring, honest piece of writing! Thank you!