According to my day planner, today is the 296th day of the year.
For the last 295 days, I have ran at least two miles each day; most seven or eight. And on the weekends more (okay, there were five days when I ran one–four when I was sick; the other one-mile-day was after my one day of skiing last January in Colorado, which ended in a fall and a dislocated shoulder).
This running streak, for me, was a big deal. Though I was a semi-competitive high school runner; and though I was a not at all competitive DIII college runner; and though I was a decent post-college marathoner, I spent much of the last decade battling knee injuries. These included two surgeries (a waste of time and money, frankly). And thousands of days in chronic pain. Acupuncture didn’t work. Traditional PT didn’t work. Chiropractory didn’t work. What finally worked was re-learning to run from the foot up. In 2014, I did just that at the National Running Center in Cambridge. Their approach is basically the front-foot (barefoot) strike technique pioneered by our sapien ancestors and brought back into vogue by Harvard’s evolutionary biologist, Daniel Lieberman.
But then the baby came. And then the end push of the dissertation. So it wasn’t until we moved to Lincoln last fall when I was able to run again consistently for the first time in years. And I’ve done so relatively pain free.
I’ve also found here a terrific running community. Most of my new running buddies are members of the Lincoln Running Company’s racing team (they’re fast!) and they meet each day at 11:30ish out of the Downtown Y, just a few blocks from UNL’s campus.
After the election, despite my history of injuries, I decided that I’d run everyday in 2017. It was my protest against Trump–against a political and cultural world that seemed to be spinning away from the values that I hold dear.
It was also a protest against my own body’s history of injury.
But today I’m not running. I’m breaking the streak.
After my last hard run on Saturday before this weekend’s Halfsy half marathon here in town, my wife and I went out to dinner (sans baby!) in the HayMarket. When we got up after our curry, naan, and wine, my left knee went stiff. Not the horrible debilitating pain that I suffered for years. But enough to limp a bit, and cringe walking back to the car garage.
I ran on it yesterday. It felt fine enough, but a little pain was still there.
Is the streak worth it, I asked myself? What do I gain from running today? What is more important? A good race this coming Sunday, or my own mini-political protest cum exercise motivation?
I’ve decided Sunday matters more.
So instead of running, I’m writing this post. And my daughter and I ran (a bit!) around our front lawn after dinner. That’s my protest against my failing body and my vote of hope in a heathy future for me and my daughter.
And instead of running, I’m sending extra (very small) campaign donations to Doug Jones in Alabama and to Jane Raybould here in Nebraska. That’s my protest against our faltering democracy and my vote of hope for a healthier future.
So it’s okay–just today–not to run.