life, Trail Running

Constraint Necessity Pain

“When fishermen can’t go to sea, they repair the nets. Let the constraints of the time serve you in righting your relationship to your Self. Be mindful that rectification must come before progress. And as always, consider the uses of adversity.”

For anyone who’s been reading this blog or has been following my Instagram, you know that I struggle with my relationship to myself. I’m kinda mean, there is no upper limit to my expectations and I have little patience for the body having a mind of its own. But it has historically been my task master. I will keep pushing until my body forces me to slow down.

I’ve been really stretched and stressed in areas of my life other than running and that has most likely been a contributor to my multiplying injuries. After last Saturday’s run, I began having Achilles pain for the first time. A temporary injury that can turn into a lifetime of chronic, debilitating pain if not allowed to heal with rest. So I’m forced to restrain myself and take a good hard look into the dark places that expose themselves when forced rest triggers all the fears.

Running trails makes me feel strong and free and for a brief part of my day, I don’t spend every single second hyper aware of what my body looks like or how it feels in my clothes. I’m free of those burdens while I’m on the trail. As if that weren’t reason enough, running serves as a vehicle for meditation, fitness, release, coping, social network, sense of accomplishment, purpose and building toward a goal. When it is “taken” from me, all of these things become threatened and it feels like my life will crumble down around me. And everyday when I get dressed and my pants are just a little bit tighter, playing on my biggest fear, I have to choose to recommit to surrender and reel myself in from the catastrophic stories building in my mind.

Running through fall colors during peak leaf weekend near Maroon Bells

The necessity of learning to deal with severe constraint is the lesson of Nauthiz. This Rune represents obstacles we create for ourselves as well as those we encounter in the world around us. Both can be equally difficult to handle.

The role of Nauthiz is to identify our shadow, our dark or repressed side, places where growth has been stunted, resulting in weaknesses that are often projected onto others. Don’t take this world personally, this Rune is saying: Work with the shadow, examine what it is in your nature that attracts hardship or misfortune to your life. When at last you can look upon the Rune of Constraint with a smile, you will recognize the troubles, denials and setbacks of life as teachers, guides and allies.

Book of RunES

There is a real loss in not being able to run. It’s become such a big part of my life and identity, that a mourning period is appropriate. I have to grieve the loss of plans and expectations, because now everything is uncertain and my body is making the rules. It could be weeks or months until I can run again and that is incredibly difficult to swallow. The quickest way to turn things around is action. I am doing yoga, stationary biking, strength and mobility work – but even all of that might be restricted if it bothers the Achilles. It’s challenging to have goals and also non-attachment at the same time. I don’t know if I’ll ever reach that level of enlightenment. So for now, I vacillate between wallowing and resolve.

Comin’ in hot!

Quad Rock 25mi is May 11th and North Fork 50mi is June 1. Between injury and a trip to India in April, it’s not looking like I’ll start either race and that took some conscious acceptance. This year I’m making leaps in my career and the mental energy that takes is a trade off I’ve made. There are several adventure goals I have for this summer and a race I still have my eye on for October. Having something to look forward to, whether it’s realistic or not, provides hope and purpose when I feel like I have to start over again. That being said, if I am able to go on mountain adventures and have fun with friends this summer, I’d consider myself to be pretty dang lucky.

So I allow myself a bit of space each day to wallow and grieve for all the ways my life and body has and will change for the foreseeable future, for all the pants I won’t be able to wear and peaks I will not be able to bag … and then I recommit to surrender and acceptance. I do not arrive and move on, I have to make a choice to be here again and again in each moment of each day and that is the hardest part of this challenge.

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