Runner on Pause

Status: 31 weeks here.

I haven’t run a step since last July. That’s nearly eight months, all thanks to a tendon in my left ankle that just isn’t having it right now (specific diagnosis? Posterior tibial tendonitis, with a few tiny tears thrown in for good measure). An overuse thing. A you’ve-been-running-for-years-with-very-little-trouble-you’re-due thing. A thing that is at the root of the longest hiatus I’ve ever taken from weekly mileage tracking and tempo runs and hill repeats and road-race planning.

I am officially a runner on pause.

Not to say other areas of my life have taken a break. I’m pregnant (due early May!) with my second kid, which was a delightful, if not disquieting, development after a few bummer false starts over the course of a year. When I realized what was happening, in early September, I decided to keep it quiet. A pink line on a stick is no guarantee of an infant; playing it cool felt like the right thing to do. As the weeks fell away and I successfully crossed off each mile marker (if you will) of growing a human, I was fully aware that, while I had my husband and my family and my friends in case things went sideways, one major ballast was M.I.A.: running.

I miss it, physically, mentally, emotionally. I didn’t run the last time I was pregnant either. It just didn’t feel great. So I’m used to that. But this time around the ankle has been calling the shots, which is annoying. I’m filling in things with targeted physical therapy (shout-out to Alison at Finish Line PT!) and strength-training workouts and the rowing machine and the bike and Pilates and prenatal yoga and well-intentioned plans to swim. A steadily growing bump plus loosey-goosey ligaments plus ever-shifting posture isn’t helping my tendon heal, but we (my glutes, my not-very-arched arches) are fighting the good fight.

Looking Ahead (or, Thank You, Rufus)
And while all the rehab and precise bodywork gives me hope that come, say, late summer I might be on my running feet once again, I’m in withdrawal. I have vivid dreams about races and runs and tear up when I see races and runs taking place in my vicinity. And I’ve been listening to a lot of music.

A few weeks ago, I went down a Rufus Wainwright rabbit hole—a singer who reminds me of 2007, when I listened to him a lot—and rediscovered “Beautiful Child.”

It’s big (horns!) and sweeping and a little jangly and when I hear it my body just wants to run. I can actually feel (for real) my feet skimming effortlessly over a multitude of terrain, my breathing syncing up with my cadence, my legs churning away without a care in the world. I want to vault over streambeds and scale rocks and sprint grassy straightaways and just move fast.

And, with any luck, I will. In a few months time when my body (that means you, ankle) gets back on board with my plans and a new little addition to my fam starts realizing that his mom is a runner—full stop.

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