One of the things I like about running – and marathon training in particular – is how strong it makes me feel – both mentally and physically. I draw confidence and comfort from the thought that my running makes me better able to deal with whatever life has in store for me. But I had a bit of a wake-up call this holiday season when a series of minor health issues left me feeling ill and unable to run for more than a week. It was amazing how quickly my confidence evaporated when my body let me down.
I say it was a wake-up call because, of course, I am reaching the point in my life where I must expect to face occasional health issues. To this point, I’ve been remarkably fortunate. The only time I’ve been hospitalized was for a tonsillectomy when I was 6 years old. I’ve never broken a bone – except maybe my baby toe (I didn’t have it x-rayed so I can’t be sure), never had a life-threatening illness, and have no significant chronic health issues. Even travelling in Asia where I ate food prepared by local street vendors for weeks, the worst I suffered was a few belly cramps.
Maybe because I’ve been so healthy, I found it incredibly unsettling to be laid low last week. It made me realize just how fragile my sense of wellbeing is. It also made me realize that I’d better focus on developing coping skills beyond running and working out. Going for a run to clear my head won’t be an option if the stress in my life is the result of some serious injury or illness. I’m going to need other things to fall back on – writing, meditation, close friends, family, and/or faith. Definitely something to think more about as I head into 2010.