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a running hiatus

Kimberley Doerksen

I am seeking.  I am thriving.  I am in it with all of my heart.

A quote emblazoned on the front of one of my training logs resonated with me as soon as I read it.  However, over the last couple of months, it’s felt more like:  I am stagnant.  I am faltering.  I don’t think I have it in my heart.  Yes, I know this is dramatic, but when caught in a downward spiral induced by injury the world seems to fall apart around me. 

I can’t think of any athlete who is “good” at being injured, and I for one am terrible at it.  If it’s a little niggle, I stubbornly work through it and it usually rectifies itself.  However, when it’s something more serious, my stubbornness becomes a fault.  I push when I should rest; I become silent when I should talk; I sulk instead of finding other outlets; and I cry, all the time.  These tears flow partially because I feel sorry for myself, but more because I’m unsteady.  Running is my therapy, my solace, and my passion.  When that’s gone I worry I have lost who I am.  I lose my spark.  I fear of the darkness that descends when I’m thrown by the wayside and unable to do what I love.  Some have attributed my injury-induced hermit mode to my introverted tendencies, but it’s really because I’d rather be alone in my little black hole than bring others down with me.  I believe that no one should have to deal with my ill tempered, curt, bitchy, and tear-stained self. 

I am no stranger to injury.  In my short time as a runner, I’ve gone through some fairly serious ones.  Yet somehow, even with these extended breaks in training, something wonderful has come out of every unexpected bump in the road.  A terrible year of anemia led me to VFAC and my incredibly supportive coach John Hill.  A calcaneal stress fracture at the end of 2013, led to an uninterrupted build to my 2014 BMO Vancouver Marathon victory.  An eight-month hiatus at the start of 2015 took me out of competition for the Pan Am Games but led into a training block that resulted in running on my first national team at the World 50k Championships instead.  

So what has, and will this two-month hiatus caused by a multitude of soft tissue injuries bring?  To date, it’s made me realize I have other passions aside from running.  It was the push I needed to decide to go back to school; to try my hand at more intricate recipes; and to dive into a new job.  It confirmed that I do not thrive on the life of a professional athlete where all my eggs are in one basket; that I need challenges and inspiration from more than just perpetual motion.  It brought about a rekindled love for swimming; a superhero driven need for strength; a new outlet through spin classes; and a surprising enjoyment for walking hours on end.  All of these things have a common denominator: the incredible people involved.  Despite my sullen character, my support system has never faltered.  My family supported every lofty non-running related goal; Mads forced my ass out the door and onto the bike or into the pool; Nicole endured hours of walking and sound boarding; Brian kept me feeling like I have the strength of a superhero; John stood beside me whatever the decision; and my wonderful friends sent support, wise words and provided social outlets.  I’m sorry if I rejected any of these offers at the time - I really do appreciate the effort! 

Through all the down days, tear-filled nights and questioning my sanity, I continually failed to see past the speed bump that had formed on my road to personal success.  I became caught up in the things I couldn’t do.  One morning I completely unraveled and the light at the end of the tunnel vanished.  In that moment of insanity I lost my passion for running.  Then as swiftly as that feeling came over me, a switch flipped in my head.  The dark clouds began to part.  I found other goals, I let go of what I couldn’t control, and I took a deep breath.    

I am seeking.  I am thriving.   I am on a slightly different journey, with all my heart.