Running with Pain

As some of you may know, I was training for my first half marathon last summer.  Unfortunately–I didn’t go on to complete this goal due to challenges in my personal life.  My ex-boyfriend and I decided to end our relationship two weeks before the race.  When we broke up, I initially thought I could press on and complete my goal, but as time passed, the thought of running my first half marathon with a broken heart seemed impossible–  especially since my ex-boyfriend had planned to run this race with me.  It was supposed to be a momentous occasion that we would share together.

I can recall a conversation via text message we exchanged when we first met.  I sent him a picture of the sunset at Manhattan Beach after just running 3 miles.  I wasn’t a big runner then, and still learning to love the exercise, but he told me that if he lived in LA, he would run my first half marathon beside me.  It was a sweet gesture at the time, but as you now know, that story ends in me withdrawing from the race after things between us fell apart.

While I may have had a few emotionally trying moments this past year, I still am grateful for the time that we shared, and for his inspirational gifts throughout our relationship, and even now after we’ve parted ways.  To be honest with you, I was hesitant to share this story because it’s deeply personal, though in the end I have chosen to do so because our relationship made a significant impact on who I am today, and that’s something worth sharing.

If you were following me on Instagram last year, you would have learned that during my half marathon training, I developed right knee pain.  The dull ache in my knee was unrelenting. After our break up, the pain intensified as I pushed myself to train harder as a way to cope with my broken heart.  As you might have guessed, I aggravated the injury, thus limiting my ability to train for my planned races the following months. Nothing quite gets in the way of a fitness goal like a worsening physical injury.

Looking back on this emotionally and physically painful time–I can officially say that I was doing a textbook tour of the stages of grief.  I want to share with you what grief looked like for me, and allow you to see the parallels between processing my heartbreak and my knee injury.

  1. Denial:  When the pain first hits, you tell yourself, “It’s not that bad, we weren’t right for each other, I don’t feel anything”.  I kept telling myself during my runs that my heart wasn’t broken and I didn’t feel any pain in my knee.   So I kept pushing myself to run, and thus aggravated the injury.  But the truth is, the pain was there no matter how hard you try to ignore it.
  2. Sadness:  At some point, pain is pain, and I realized I could no longer run away from it or hide.  During this stage, I finally gave myself the opportunity to be sad and engage with the pain, emotionally and physically.  I acknowledged it, allowed myself to feel it enveloping me, and developed ways to deal with my physical pain by way of physical therapy, and emotional pain in the form of talking with a therapist.
  3. Confusion/ Anger:   I definitely had my moments of confusion and something like anger. Was this the right decision? Are our personalities that different? Could it have worked? Why doesn’t this freaking pain in my knee go away? I want to run! I should be over this relationship now!  I went to a therapist to sort through my emotions, and a physical therapist to deal with my knee injury.  Both therapists helped me explore strategies on how to work through my pain.  I was given exercises that encourage me to learn from the situation, and to improve it.    This helped me discover new perspectives, and I started feeling like myself again: physically and emotionally.
  4. Motivation: After dealing with my feelings, I realized that the pain in my right knee, and the pain in my heart, were only temporary.  This was a tunnel–not a cave. This gave me the determination to heal my heart and finally realize my goal of completing a half marathon.
  5. Acceptance :  I am grateful for the time I had with my ex-boyfriend.  We both realized how different we were from one another, and understood that it wouldn’t have worked out between us.  I honestly believe we are both now happier after going our separate ways.  Finding closure in the relationship and spending time in physical therapy allowed me to complete my first half marathon without any right knee pain! In fact, I completed my 2nd half marathon with a better time than the previous, and I’m looking forward to race in my 3rd half marathon in November.

I want you all to know that I originally wrote this article early this year, but didn’t yet feel emotionally ready to share something so personal.  But healing changes things. Working through the stages alters your perspective. In the end, I felt the need to share my story because it may be personal, but it is a significant part of my life that has shaped me into the person I am today.  I will end this blog post with one last quote that I absolutely love, and read to myself  over and over following the break up: “Everything heals.  Your body heals.  Your heart heals.  The mind heals.  Wounds heal.  Your soul repairs itself. Your happiness is always going to come back.  Bad times don’t last.” – The past may help shape our present, but it is our present that will shape our future… and I am looking forward to my future. ❤

Thank you for reading! xoxo ~ Beverley

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