What Happens Then...
As I mentioned really briefly in my April in Review post, I fractured my right hip...again. This makes three femoral neck (fancy term for the socket of your hip joint) in under two years...and before I have even turned 24. Yikes.
A few weeks back, I started experiencing some discomfort after runs and truly believed I was being oversensitive. It wouldn't have been the first time my hypochondriac mindset took over. Regardless, I stopped running for almost two weeks and headed to my doctor to assuage my anxiety over the weird sensation in my hip. Better safe than sorry, right? Well, it turns out I have a tiny hairline fracture in the first hip I fractured. At least, I could trust my instincts, right? Anyways, back to crutches (and daily breakdowns) I go.
Beyond the amount of pain (which hurts really freaking bad), the most frustrating part of this ordeal is the lack of any clear cause to my fractures at such a young age. My doctor has ran blood tests, ran bone density tests, assessed my stride, checked my shoes, you name it. I am simply told that it's overuse from running...over and over by doctors of all levels. I refuse to believe that for a plethora of reasons, but that's another matter in itself. This time around, though, I was hardly running. I had been focusing heavily on strength training and yoga. Sure, I'd gone on one long run which may not have been the smartest recovery move, but otherwise, I was only averaging 6-8 miles a week.
Despite my insistence (to the point of stubbornness and maybe even blindness) that running has not caused it, I still have the recurring thought that hangs out in the back of my mind: what if this is my body telling me, time and time again, that I need to stop running?
So, the past few days, I've wondered...if I stopped running, what happens then?
The thought of not running absolutely terrifies me. In a decade of major change, it's been the one consistent part of my life. It's the one area of my life I feel confident in. It's the one area of my life that truly makes me feel, well, me. If I turned my back on running, would I lose this sense of self? Would I lose my sense of joy, adventure, drive? Would I lose the fundamental Emily in me? I understand that there are multitudes of facets to my being, but would I ever find a place, a hobby that gives me this same resonating, inexplainable feeling of being...me? More than that, would this lack of consistency, the lack of my core...would it stir up my anxiety? In the short term, withholding running has wreaked serious havoc on my anxiety and mental state. Would would happen in the long term? What happens then?
Is it possible to totally relinquish your goals without replacing them with something moderately comparable? Years and years ago, before I could barely run 5k without stopping, I noted "run the Boston Marathon" on my bucket list (yes, I have an actual list!). It was an impossible goal that I knew I'd qualify for with the 2016 LA Marathon (sound similar, Run Selfie Repeat, fans?). I was pacing 7:30 miles on 16-mile training runs...and felt fantastic. I knew I had it in the bag, and I was approaching my goal with confidence. Well, when my LA Marathon plan was thwarted by a severely fractured hip (#1 of 3), I put my bucket list item on hold. I knew I'd come back to it in time...I had plenty of healthy years ahead of me to qualify. But, if I gave up running, I'd give up on this dream, this impossible goal entirely. Is it ever okay to walk away from a dream, an impossible one you've dedicated so much of your life to? What happens then?
On a shallow level, would giving up running impact my appearance? I hate that this thought has even crossed my mind, but I am being honest here. My body tends towards the curvier, heavier side (really, look at me pre-35-pound weight loss). I hate indoor cardio so elliptical and stationary biking at the gym is pretty off the table. Yoga and strength training is great...but would it be the same? What happens then?
90% of my community in San Diego is based in running - 90% of my eggs are in one basket. I met the majority of my support system, my San Diego community through November Project. But, if I stopped running, I'd have to stop going to November Project. I haven't been going consistently for 6 weeks...and not a single person has noticed. Would people even notice if I stopped showing up completely? More than that, would I be able to hang out with these runner friends outside of November Project? Would I be able to control my jealousy, my bitterness that their bodies can magically handle the miles that my fragile bones somehow can't? Would I let these feelings of envy take over any happiness I had listening to a person's training plan or race? More than that, would I even have friends to hang out with? The first two times on crutches, any social life I had took a hard pause. I was the epitome of out of sight, out of mind - quite literally removed from group chat and group chat. If I gave up running permanently, what would happen then?
How are you supposed to know if something is hurting you more than benefiting you? How are you supposed to know if something is only hurting you because there's a deeper cause (hormones, bones, whatever!) and that your body is actual fine with your true passion? When do you stop trying to find an answer? When do you stop trying to pursue what you love?
So what happens now?