Gettin’ My Running Fix by Volunteering

Recovering from a running injury has got to be something like drug rehab.

At first, you just feel so bad that you don’t want to do anything. The more normal you begin to feel, the harder it is to stay away from your drug. It’s a fight to keep from making justifications to do what you want to do (“Oh, my PT is just being overly cautious; a little bit of running won’t hurt” or “Walnut Creek is not REALLY a trail, so if I just went out to walk a bit what would that hurt?” or “I know my body better than anyone and I’m feeling pretty good today”).

Lately, I’ve noticed I can get a tad grouchy and resentful. It’s hard to balance being a part of things through spectating with that sour-puss feeling of resentment that everyone else is doing something fun that excludes you in a way that enables you to maintain a sunny disposition.

Satisfying That Trail Craving

Tonight, I’m heading out to Inks Lake to help at an aid station in order to satisfy my running craving. Cap’n Karl’s is a nighttime 30K/60K trail race.  I have done the race back when it was a daytime event, and I have run the long-gone Inks Lake Trail marathon there as well.

I love the terrain because it is varied and interesting; you get a little bit of everything, from sandy creek-side bits to woods to a bit of more technical stuff on rock. I’ve never done the granite domes at night, but I think it would be a blast (and a little bit of a challenge, trying to find trail markers all while watching footing in the dark). This will be my first race to volunteer at since I broke my ankle; I’ve done some spectating but, until now, I didn’t feel like my ankle was strong enough to take on long periods of standing at an aid station. And, really, working an aid station is more exhausting than doing the event itself, at least as far as I’m concerned.

There’s a tad bit of guilt at abandoning my son to go hang out in the woods all night but he told me it sounded like something I really wanted to do and he’d be fine (of COURSE he’ll be fine, but that really has no bearing on mother guilt). Yes, I really want to do this. I’m practically hungry to be back out on the trail. Not so much for the running in general, though I am totally looking forward to the day when I can simply add a few minutes of run-time into those Ladybird Lake walks. But there is a true yearning for something that being on the trail gives me. It’s more than the physical act of running.

Overcoming Fear in Recovery

I think part of it is a need to “get back on that horse.” I told a friend a while back that there was a bit of fear wound into recovery, and she snorted at me and basically said that I was wrong. (Not a very empathetic person to begin with…and someone who has yet to suffer a true set-back.) But the folks who’ve had an injury along these lines get it. Suddenly, there’s a worry about pain and injury that never existed before. I look back at my 100K out at Bandera amidst lightning, torrential downpour, and cold, wet trail conditions and marvel at all the opportunities present for injury. And the worst that happened was I lost a crown. Yes, what happened to me at Rocky was completely random and could’ve happened anywhere…and that’s the scary part, the unpredictability. Before, it never was real that I should predict anything…now, I can’t seem to not predict it.

I keep getting closer and closer to 100 percent. I’ve been experimenting with leaving my compression sock off during the day for periods of time to see if my swelling comes back. It does, a bit, but more slowly and not nearly as much. I’m going to rest up for tonight and plan to enjoy the hell out it.

(I was just startled by a noise and looked up in time to see Huff Huff Man running around our cul de sac. I’ll take it as a loud blessing!)

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Published by Leah Nyfeler

I'm a writer, editor, runner, and adventurer who is always looking for the next new story, exciting adventure, and good meal/book/movie. My focus is on helping people find their best, healthiest self through sharing what I know and how I've come to learn it. In addition to my blog "Enjoying the Journey: Observations on the Fit Life" at, my articles have appeared in a variety of print and online magazines. You can hear me as part of the 2015 Austin cast of Listen To Your Mother.

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