"Running" has been a bad word in my presence for the last 9 months or so. I can't even believe I've been dealing with this IT band injury for so long. You may be aware of my history: how I started jogging after about a decade of inactivity and clawed my way from pathetically huffing and puffing after 30 seconds...to running 5 miles without walking at all. I was so proud of my new running skills, and super happy about losing 30 pounds and 6 clothing sizes. But I unknowingly pushed too hard while training for a half marathon and messed up my IT band big time. It's a tendon of sorts that runs all the way down the outside of the leg from the glutes to the knee. That band can get knotted up and pull at the knee causing terrible pain. It was so bad that I could only run about a tenth of a mile before the pain forced me to walk. I tried foam rolling, sport chiropractic care, and limited walking/jogging to try to overcome the injury but nothing seemed to help much. I took a few months off (mostly the crazy hot summer because I didn't want to run in it anyway) and also did some soul searching. I can't say this with certainty, but I'm almost convinced that my injury was a "gift" from God with a specific lesson intwined. Running had become a constant stress for me because I was always comparing myself to other runners. And I did not measure up. I wasn't as fast, or as good at endurance. I felt like I worked hard, but never performed as well as I wanted. I often felt pretty worthless and discouraged. The injury forced me to stop, then proceed very slowly, and at some point I desperately prayed that if I could just run a nice slow 2 or 3 miler again one day, I'd be happy. And suddenly, my knee pain is fading. I can run a casual 2 miles for the first time in almost a year. I can do a fast walk/jogging pattern and go 4-5 miles. I'm exercising again, and feeling good. And I realize now that just being off the couch and able to walk or jog a bit, at a nice easy pace, is such a joy! I don't feel a need to go faster or longer, or compare myself to anybody else. I'm just thrilled to be doing my thing and taking care of my body.
I even joined a fitness center this week so I can use the treadmill during the dark, cold winter and do some strength training, classes, and maybe even swimming. Turns out the knee problem has been a blessing in disguise. I'm so thankful to be free of that dark cloud of comparison and self-deflating thoughts. Thankfully, I'm not so dense that I haven't been able to transfer this lesson to other areas of life, too.