Today was my first day of physical therapy and consequently my first time trying to run again since my knee injury sent me to the doctor several weeks ago. I was sent home with lots of stretches to do several times a day, instructions to ice my knee as much as possible and ointment to rub onto it twice a day as well. Perhaps the most interesting healing maneuver, however, involves using a rolling pin to stretch out the IT band all down the side of my thigh. I plan to stick to these instructions 100% in hopes that I will be able to finish my half marathon (which I've been looking forward to all year, ever since it was too full for me to sign up for last year) in a somewhat decent time -- aka not walking all 13.1 miles.
My best friend Jessica was nice enough to go out on this test run with me and we managed to run 4.6 miles. My knee was definitely sore by the end of it, but I stretched like crazy afterward and it seems to be doing pretty well now. Later on we got to talking about running in general as she helped me pick out new running shoes (since these bad boys ended up being too loose after all, let me know if you're a size 7 and would like to buy some discount new-ish running shoes!).
Basically we decided it's the club mentality that rocks. Not only do people respect runners (probably because they think the act of running is much harder than it actually is) but it's also such a simple and fun way to bond with people. We runners get to talk about our new shoes with genuine interest, compare mile times, see the sights and have long talks as we run our way through ridiculous mileage. I’m pretty sure there’s no better way to get to know someone on a real level than to spend hours on end in your possibly most unattractive state – sweating, panting, smelling awful, you get the idea. This is how you learn who you’re compatible with. This is how I met some of my very best friends.
In middle school, running got me out of class early, in high school it allowed me to get my health back while meeting some of the funniest people I know, in college it allowed me to stay close with friends I might not have otherwise and I can only hope this next phase of my life (whatever it may be) will somehow allow me to move forward with running and relationships as well.
Sure, it's not for everyone, but for those of us who love running, we really love it. From the awesome patterns found on our running shorts to the crazy neon shoe laces on our running kicks to the amazing feeling of accomplishment when we finally reach the finish line. Honestly, it's enough to make an injured runner almost angry at those non-runners who have perfectly healthy knees but choose not to use them for running.
Enjoy your body, your health and your running buddies. They are wonderful.