In his latest “From the Chapel” post, OSV publisher Scott Richert writes, “Most of the…
From the Chapel — June 29: Two steps back
“From the Chapel” is a series of short, daily reflections on life and faith in a time of uncertainty. As people across the world cope with the effects of the coronavirus — including the social isolation necessary to combat its spread — these reflections remind us of the hope that lies at the heart of the Gospel.
When I first began running again in 2011, after 20 years away, I knew I couldn’t dive right in. So I chose a Couch to 5K program and followed it religiously. Except … as soon as I could, I started running more quickly than the program called for. I kept the distances the same, but I pushed the speed.
And on the day before Palm Sunday 2011, about five weeks into the program, I stood up from our couch, and my left knee gave out.
I limped around for a few days and finally went to a doctor. Patellar tendinitis, caused most likely by overextension of my stride. Like what happens when you try to run faster than you should.
It took about two months of rest and icing and stretching before I could start running again. And I made good use of that time, reading up on the best way for someone of my advanced age (I was 43 at the time) to start running again. Turns out that running styles and techniques have changed a lot since I ran cross-country in high school. The best way to avoid injuries is to shorten your stride and increase your cadence (the number of times your feet hit the ground per minute), so that you’re placing less stress on your knees.
By summer I was doing Couch to 5K again, and this time doing it right. And over the next five years, I ran many thousands of miles, dozens of races, and completed four marathons.
For a number of reasons, I haven’t run as much since we moved to Huntington. But I’ve been increasing my mileage these past couple of months as I’ve taken part in the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee. And everything was going great.
Until it wasn’t.
On Father’s Day, while visiting my parents in Michigan for the first time since the pandemic struck, I went out for an 8-mile run. And about four miles in, I started to feel a twinge in my left calf. I walked for a bit, and then ran another mile. And then the twinge turned to pain, and suddenly to a stabbing pain that almost threw me to the ground.
I managed to walk the rest of the way back to my parents’ house, put some ice on it, and resigned myself to several days of recovery. And over the course of the week, the pain subsided, I walked two or three miles each day, and by Sunday, I was ready to give running another try.
Or so I thought.
I went a quarter of a mile, felt the twinge, and decided to walk instead. But after about a half a mile, everything seemed fine, so I started running again — and made it about 10 feet before I was back to exactly where I’d been a week before.
Here’s the thing: As you can tell from my story above, I knew better than to do what I did. I know when something’s going wrong, it’s not a good idea to plow on through. But I did it anyway.
Because I’m human. And impatient. And I don’t like to think that I’m getting older. And I want what I want when I want it. And now, I’ll probably do a stint in physical therapy because I didn’t stop doing what I knew I shouldn’t do.
Coincidentally, I read a lot of articles over the last week about the surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations across most of the southern United States. Why has this surge happened? Because the people in those states are human. After months of varying levels of lockdown, they’re impatient. They don’t want to think that they’re vulnerable. And they want what they want when they want it.
“What has been, that will be; what has been done, that will be done. Nothing is new under the sun!” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). I spent a week shaking my head at a bunch of people who were doing pretty much what I ended up doing to myself on Sunday. We take one step up and two steps back, not just because we don’t know any better, but sometimes when we do. “Vanity of vanities. All things are vanity!” (Ecclesiastes 1:2).
The question is, once we realize what we’ve done, will we learn from it?
Scott P. Richert is publisher for OSV.