It's cloudy and cold, not the kind of day that beckons you to come play, but for the runner who is trapped daily in a gym, it's as good a day as any. I swing my leg over my bike for the four block trek to Doc. It's been four weeks since I began seeing the doc. I look forward to the bionic outcome, but for now I lament the need for treatment.
When I came to see him I was deep into the healing process of a year-long injury and I thought all was progressing forward, though not fast enough. He felt otherwise. First order of business ... stop running.
"What? Like, stop running for a few weeks?"
"Well, we'll see how long. I need to get you straightened out. You're kind of a mess."
"Gosh ... I hadn't noticed Doc. I thought that knee cap was supposed to be down over there, and that rib was supposed to be up over here." I felt like Igor as I blinked disappointment at this "no running" announcement. The open-ended status of "we'll see" had me quite nervous.
So I hunkered down for maybe a 3 week sabbatical but now three weeks has turned into four and I'm staring at week number five when I ride into the office for my first of two visits for the week. He notices my bike needs several adjustments. Among Doc's many talents is elite cycling coaching and bike fitting. Apparently my bike, similar to my body, has things in the wrong location, at the wrong angle. But that's another story all together. Back to my ever extending running sabbatical.
"So Doc, what exactly are we waiting for before I can maybe try to run again? Cuz I am about to lose it on the elliptical." My eyes were wild and I felt a snarl appearing across the bridge of my nose. Just keep it cool and be nice. Smile ... sweet eye blink.
"Well, how is your Achilles feeling?"
Blink, blink, smile ... "It is absolutely wonderful. When you were digging into this morning I hardly flinched."
"We can't take it too quickly or it will become irritated and slow progress. I know how you runners are. I give you a mile, you take ten."
Smile. Sweet eye blink ... twice. "Not me Doc. I will do just what you ask. If you give me a mile, I will take it."
"You do realize that if I give you a mile, that doesn't mean in the form of repeats. You can't run your mile, rest, then repeat."
Irritated smile. "Fine ... I'll take my single mile, just please give me just a smidgen of running."
"Ok. This is what I'd like you to do. Start out by going on a speed walk for an hour."
No more smile. Tears begin to form. Blink, blink the tears back. SPEED WALK.
"No. Listen Doc. I have NO pain and I have to run. You gotta give me something. I walk all day long in my job. I can take more. How about stadium steps." (This is the give and take strategy. He gives me speed walk, I give him stadium steps and we eventually meet somewhere in the middle).
"No. No stadium steps. That's the worst thing you can do. Alright, let's have you try a short, easy run on the city college track. I want you to warm up slowly, as in walk, and then stretch. Then do an easy three miles. Stop if there is any discomfort. Then an easy warm down and final stretch. Then go home and ice. This is to be done on Wednesday so that we can see how it goes at your Thursday appointment."
Elated smile. Sweet eye blink. "Alright. Thank you, thank you, thank you."
I trust this doc. He knows what he's talking about and he cares. So Wednesday I will be at the city college taking in these precious few miles with appreciation. The miles will be followed by a tough master's swim workout and I predict that I will be happy. Will I be tempted to run hard ... yes. Tempted to detour up the stadium steps ... yes. Tempted to run farther than prescribed ... yes. But my desire to be healed is a greater desire than all these temptations. Isn't that the best way to defeat temptation: Be passionate about the greater goal. Make IT a greater temptation.
I added a new song to my playlist this weekend. Lyrics can be so appropriate.
Changes by Butterfly Boucher and David Bowie
First verse and chorus:
I still don't know what I was waiting for
And my time was running wild
A million dead-end streets
Every time I thought I'd got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet
So I turned myself to face me
But I've never caught a glimpse
Of how the others must see the faker
I'm much too fast to take that test
(Turn and face the strain)
Don't want to be a richer man
(Turn and face the strain)
Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can't trace time