When I Cannot.

When I say, I am injured. Not running, most people do not understand the turmoil – the knots that tighten like a stubborn corkscrew. I mean to say, Life is shitty right now. Please make me laugh. Because I miss the effervescent endorphins, sparking across neuronal endings. Without my gateway to freedom, I am a slave to the grindings of daily life, confined to the physical space of this campus.

I mean to say, I hate the fragility of the human body. And mine in particular. I detest the way repetitive force creates disturbances in tendon, ligaments, and bone. Who knew the love of my life was so destructive and conniving. This is the ultimate betrayal. I begin to hate how much I love this masochistic sport, how I love the way it scorches my lungs, fires my blood, jumpstarts my heart. How much I crave a 6-mile does of pain and bliss.

When I cannot run, I seek new coping mechanisms: extra mid-day tea break, mesmerizing novel, studying outdoors. I try to appreciate my softened body, no longer used to the physical stress of long distance. My hunger is less ravenous, and I begin to truly taste food. In fact, as food’s utility in performance dissolves, it is no longer a means to an end – it is the end, the satisfaction, the joy. I am not fueling up, just eating.

People still call me a runner. But these days, I feel more like a retiree, thinking back to the sport with fondness. My identity with running is unhinged – we owe each other nothing. Still, I keep my letters to it sheltered inside a fold of paper. I cherish the memories made on muddy wooded trails. I love without expecting reciprocation. And next time I see pity in well-intentioned eyes, I mean to say, not broken. just healing.

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