Run Leader Champion, Drew Edwards reflects on his experience of injury and (not) running.
Its been about three weeks since my injury and I have learnt a lot about myself both good and bad and helped me evaluate my relationship with running, in the days that have passed and I wanted to share a few of those insights with you. Also in speaking to people over the last few weeks has highlighted how many people felt the same during their own battles through injury and how its okay to feel those feelings. How effective I will be at sharing them, I will let you be the judge of that.
One of the things I do want to make clear is that I’m definitely not intending to be self indulgent. I only use my experience because I understand it and its closest to me.I’m not used to or even very good at these introspective activities so I hope that you understand and accept my apologies if I get my words wrong.
So why on earth am I putting my thoughts to paper or electronic text in this case? Ive actually found that writing has really helped me cope with the situation I’m in and my thoughts and feelings might help someone else go through their own similar challenge, whenever that arises. As I said before, so many people that I’ve spoken to have felt similar feelings to me and that really surprised me. Even the most positive and inspirational people went through their own emotional journeys and I suppose in some weird way that gave me solace.
I’ve been told that people love a story so let me start at the beginning . I’m suffering from a fractured humerus, which is the long bone in the arm that runs from the shoulder to the elbow. The injury happened during a run, it wasn’t because of running. But for this story it doesn’t really make much difference, the majority of the emotions and feelings would have still been mostly the same. The end result was that I couldn’t run both from a healing standpoint, I needed to give the fracture time to repair and from a pain standpoint, I just couldn’t run, even if I tried.
For those that know me, I really love running. It’s wasn’t always the case but at least for the past two years, I can safely say that I really really enjoy running. Its my safe space, my head space and a space of amazing joy for me. Not being able to run was quite emotional for me. I was thrusted in to a state of deep sadness and I didn’t expect to have that kind of visuaral reaction. I tried all of the mental tricks like saying it was just an elongated taper(a lighter training week prior to a race) and that I would be back running soon but they didn’t work. The fact remained that I couldn’t run. It was like something so important to me was taken away and I was going through a micro grieving process.
Let me first say that I, in no way, am trivialising the grieving process. There are 100,000 of families and communities that have suffered greatly due to the pandemic as well as other highly traumatic situations and my heart goes out to all of them.
Running has become such a huge part of my life that having the feeling that it was taken away, just hit me really hard. Physically, I couldn’t run with friends and that made me so angry. I was sad because I had lost that social activity that was so important. I couldn’t even look at strava or garmin. I didn’t want to talk or think about running. It was emotionally really painful to be involved in some of the fantastic running communities that I was involved in. I just wanted to put my head in the sand and hide away. I just didn’t want to think or be reminded of running. I couldn’t even look at my running shoes.
I am so very fortunate to be active in quite a few running communities and with some wonderful people who saw my withdrawal and reached out to me. Sharing my vulnerabilities with others and having them share theirs with me was such a humbling experience. It placed me in uncomfortable and comfortable places emotionally and forced me to face my own preconceived ideas about running and my relationship with running. It forced me to see some of the more toxic elements of my relationship with running and make steps to change, as well as seeing the real positive parts.
Since talking to so many people about this, I was surprised at how many people felt exactly or similar feelings when they suffered from injuries or absences from running and had to go through their own versions of the journey that I was on.
Talking with other people helped me understand that these aren’t negatively driven emotions. They come from a place of love. A deep love of an activity that gives so much joy, that creates long lasting friendship, that challenges us to be our best selves and that can leave us huge void when it’s gone. As runners, we can engulf ourselves in running. We can talk about running techniques, running training, running achievements with other runners and these naturally bond us to a massive running community. That love unites us and is an amazing thing.
This was an important revelation for me and I really want to share it with as many people that I can. Thank you to all the runners that have reached out to me and all of the others, who have been or will be in my situation. You will never know how grateful that I am that you cared enough to reach out.
The running community also helped me understand that we are also more than just our running statistics. We are more than just our stravas. We are people that can still be supportive and be supported by the running community, even when we are unable to run. Runners care!! Being a runner is more than just putting two feet in front of the other. It’s the connecting of hearts and minds.
That’s why I love running.
A massive thank you to Drew for reaching out and sharing, this definitely struck a cord with Run Wales and we are sure the wider community will resonate too. We wish you a full and speedy recovery and look forward to seeing you zoom around the streets of Aberdare again soon.