Runner’s Block


I am sitting on a block of ice, and I am not ashamed.

April marks the beginning of racing season.   That time when I move from the realm of building and training into the world of performing.  It also marks the time of year that I begin to fear.  Words like third degree sprain and torn meniscus send shivers down my spine. I plug my ears and hum when I hear the utterances of shredded ACLs and bulging discs.

I am not frightened by the pain those words imply nor the debilitating consequences of those utterances.  I simply find horrific the idea that injury could prevent my training from ever seeing its full fruition.  I shudder thinking that I might miss that one big race.

Despite maintaining a long list of injuries to worry about,  four weeks from my first big race I actually face today the possibility of  a DNF (did not finish).

It all started almost two months ago when I notice a small twinge of pain under my glute.  I ignored it.  A week later, in core class, my whole glute cramped and refused to function.  I changed the exercise and kept teaching.  Days later, on a long run, the pain radiated from under the glute and into the hamstring.  I just kept running.  Soon the pain transitioned from sporadic to constant.  I refused to give in to it. 

About  a month ago, thinking a quick roll on the foam roller would remedy the problem, I discovered the source of my suffering.  Under the medial glute was what I referred to as a six-inch long knot.  The foam roller bobbled over it like a car over a speed bump, but it could not penetrate. 

I joked with my friends and students about the giant knot in my backside.  One truly kind friend nicknamed it my GBK (giant butt knot.)  He said it sounded like a brand of clothing and suggested I start a t-shirt company. 

I whined about it to everyone that I thought might have a solution that did not involve giving up running.  I got very little sympathy in my appeals. 

My favorite massage therapist asked me to show her exactly where the trouble lie.  I demonstrated the speed bump effect on the foam roller.  She ogled then got oddly excited.  “I’ve never seen one that bad before,” she said with an enthusiasm I resented a little.  She then asked if she could use me as an example at her sport injury conference in Costa Rica.  I agreed.  I never imagined my rear end would go international.

Just this week, the pain finally won over my stubborn nature and I had to face the fact that I am injured.  The exact diagnosis?  A very angry periformis.  A small muscle with a big job that has left its post and literally rolled up like a window shade, taking my IT band and hamstring with it. 

The cure?   Stop running for a bit.

A more realistic option?  Ice.

So here I sit on a frozen block of water trying to eliminate the inflammation in my rear.  Having little else to wonder about, I  am left to ponder what I might be doing instead if I had dealt with the pain when I first felt it.  Facing the injury sooner may have meant a quick massage, a week off, a little ibuprofen. Now, short of a miracle, I will endure weeks of cold packs and deep tissue digging.  What will keep me out of the race is not the injury itself, but the fact I pretended it was not there.

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When Peter denied having ever known Jesus, he was grieved that he had done so.  But when Jesus came and found him after the Resurrection, Peter made no mention of it.  Jesus, however, pursued  Peter and repeatedly asked “do you love me.”  Peter mourned realizing that Jesus asked the question three times, the same number of times that he had denied Him. 

Peter replied that he did love Jesus, and was then commanded to care for Jesus’ s followers.

Jesus did not condemn Peter.  He did not demand an apology, He never asked for restitution, He did not count Peter out of the race.  Jesus in fact, sent Peter towards the finish line.

So why the drama?  Why ask Peter three times do you love me?  Why bring it up at all?

For Peter to move on, he had to face what he had done.

The whole point of Christ’s death and resurrection  is that we don’t have to pay restitution, we are never counted out of the race.

That does not mean we should not face our faults, failures, mistakes, and straight up sins.  We don’t face them so that God can punish us, we face Him so that we can move on. 

Even the little things, when left to fester, will ball and pull untill they are unbearable.  Our sin will not keep us out of the race, but we are hindered when we run as if it is not there. 

God just wants us to pull up our ice block and say we still love Him.  Do not fear your struggles.  Do not fear the God who sees them all.  Face your short comings.  Face your savior.  And then run, unhindered, the race that He has set before you.

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