Sunday, April 14, 2013

Moving Therapy

A while back, when Lyndsay, Karen and I walked into a running store, we saw a shirt with the phrase, “Running—cheaper than therapy” across the front. 

Lyndsay, who was nursing a meniscus injury was in the midst of visiting every medical therapist known to humankind replied, “…unless you require therapy in order to run.”

I started to think about it. There is some truth in the slogan. Sadly, I am aware of the price of both activities—running and therapy—and on many levels I believe running is a form of moving therapy.

I think back to my 46th birthday. I went for a run; the most memorable run of my life. It wasn’t a race or a particularly beautiful day. I wasn’t running with friends or in a great mood. But, I was holding onto some pent up stress. I ran. By myself. Fast. Furiously. Crying. Screaming. Out loud. I ran until it was all out, left behind and dissipating with every footstep; stress juiced from every cell, dripping away, splashig into oblivion. It felt amazing.

It’s been three weeks since I’ve been able to run properly. After the Around the Bay race I felt a twinge in my knee on my next run, rendering me useless by kilometer 4. I stopped and decided to rest a few days. The weekend long run was disastrous, leaving Karen to run ahead to get help. Synchronicity was at work that day, because she ran into Denise, one of our running partners, driving home with her family. They came and rescued me. Relieved and a bit embarrassed I hobbled into the van, allowing them to drive me to the safety of the running store.

It’s frustrating because my knee isn’t sore. I can walk without any pain and it only shows up when I’m well into a run. I decided to get professional help so I consulted Dr. Google and self-diagnosed the problem as not my knee itself but a tight IT band probably pulling up on the outside of my knee. 

I should have tried to run again right away but I was scared. I was scared that I wouldn't be able to do something that I have loved for the past three years ever again.  It’s a daunting thought—like a world without Kawartha Dairy’s mint chocolate ice cream or no more Starbuck’s unsweetened green tea lattes with organic soy milk. My mind just doesn’t want to go there.

But, it’s time to face my fear. Besides noticing that I am just starting to lose my fitness, my muscle tone—I am totally losing my mind. This became painfully obvious to me yesterday.

Now, generally I try not to engage in fruitless debate or differing opinions, especially in public forums such as facebook.  However, occasionally I involuntarily get sucked in when something gets under my skin. I am generally A-political but sometimes extreme right wing comments can set me off and now, apparently, I can add genetically modified seed to that list of hot topics. (You had to read that twice, didn’t you?). Yep, GMO.

A seemingly innocuous comment set fire to the rages in my brain and I threw up everything I felt about GMO to someone I have never met—all over my neighbour’s facebook page, and not eloquently I might add. (Sorry Sharon). I was like an animal possessed with rabies. I couldn’t help myself. All testy and prickly, I engaged. It was so bad my daughter called me and told me she didn’t need television anymore for entertainment. All she needed to do was watch me on facebook. (I am not joking).

I can’t afford therapy and my shoes are paid for. It is time to start running again. 

Four kilometers and no knee pain. The neighbour kid came by trying to sell me ‘meat’ for a fundraiser for his baseball team and I didn’t bite his head off. Things are getting better on the western front.

In a phone conversation with Karen this week, we talked about the most blissful place to be—where the spiritual and physical world collide. And, that is sometimes where running takes me—it’s moving therapy; a sacred space. I’d like to leave you with a post by Karen that is absolutely beautiful:

The other day I was asked "what are you running from?". I gave the standard runner’s answer of "it is what I am running to." I am positive they walked away rolling their eyes. On a spring run like today it was all about where I went. Not the forest I run by or the scenic can't see it with the plain eye. There are only a few doorways to get there. Call it meditation, connecting with the Universe and feeling the essence behind what is. It's a secret lying inside that you somehow understand. So it doesn't matter if it is 5K or 42.2, you can still travel far off this planet. But I do think that explains why some choose to run a longer distance, it is more time in the sacred space.

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