I am not a quitter. Quitters are the worst. Everybody knows this. Quitters are weak, quitters are cowards. quitters are fair weather fans. Quitters never win, & winners never quit.
I’m starting to question that.
Actually, it’s my ankle. My ankle has the questions. My left ankle, to be precise.
In the interests of full transparency, let me say right up front that I (like a ridiculous percentage of other privileged white women) have a long & dysfunctional relationship with my body. When it tried to thicken up in my teens, I was like, “Oh, hell, no. If the fat’s not going to land in socially acceptable places (like my boobs), then it’s not going to land at all.” (Spoiler alert: my fat was socially unacceptable.) But I like to eat so I started running.
Once upon a time, I felt a run didn’t count unless it was at least an hour long. Mind you, I was cracking off 7.5 minute miles back in the day, so I was covering some ground.
I eventually settled into a more reasonable relationship with food, my body & exercise, but I still run. 5 days a week, 4 miles at a pop. But I’m old now. (Hello, 50. I see you up there.) When I get up in the morning, there’s a brief period of reacquainting my body with the idea of movement. You know, a series of snaps, crackles & pops, and a little hobbling before everything smooths out.
My runs start the same as my mornings these days. We start slowly, just kind of introducing the idea of doing this for the next 35 minutes or so. Then the tight places loosen up & we’re off to races. I get to think my thoughts to the beat of my feet & sort through all the weird shit in my head. It’s like meditation, & because I have such a sedentary job, I’ve always considered it a necessary balance.
But then my left ankle spoke up. It began voicing an opinion of our runs. And that opinion was, “Hey, this hurts.”
So I did what I’ve been taught to do.
I ignored it.
I ran anyway.
I just trusted what I’ve been taught, what we all know to be true: winners never quit & quitters never win.
I did that for…I don’t know…three weeks? Four?
But my ankle wouldn’t shut up. And then it wasn’t just complaining at the beginning of a run. It talked to me the whole time. It refused to let me fall into that easy white brain space that I needed. It was like, “HEY. HELLO. I HURT.”
And then it didn’t just hurt first thing in the morning, or when I ran. Soon it was twinging and whinging throughout the day. I’d get up from my desk & it was like, “HI REMEMBER ME? I STILL HURT. YOU ARE HURTING ME.”
So I did something Younger Susan couldn’t have contemplated.
Well. Quit is so strong a word. I gave myself permission to take a break.
It was a Thursday. I said to myself, “Okay, we’re taking Friday off. And you know what? We’re taking next week off, too. We’re not going to run again until next Monday.” That’s, like, a week and a half? I haven’t gone that long between runs since that last time I was pregnant.
It’s been two days, and let me tell you something.
I am fucking terrified.
I am not used to letting my body call the shots. What kind of maniac does that? Like, sure, I’m a shortie. I max out at 5’2″ on a good day. But does that mean I have to be weak, too? Hell, no. I work hard & I’m strong. I’m as strong as a shortie can be.
And that goes for my head, too. Just because I feel something doesn’t mean I get to say it out loud. I’m an adult. I have self-control. Maybe I’m not perfect. Maybe I’m not even inherently good. Not on the inside. But I try. And that’s the point.
So what on earth is going to happen if I stop trying?
My ankle thinks it’s time to find out.
And I’m just old enough and just damaged enough and just brave enough to agree.
So let’s do this.
Or more accurately, let’s not.
Let’s not do anything for a while.
Let’s try that.