Diversify Your Life

As a lifelong runner, I have always relied on a long, soaking run for balance and energy, but since my injury three months ago I’m forced to look elsewhere. I got to thinking about where runners who are injured or non-runners go for balance and energy.

In my case, once I acknowledged my condition and accepted it, other sources of energy flowed naturally. The bottom line is to diversify. Following are sources of energy I’ve found that were always in my life but I was too busy to notice:

  • Writing – It’s hard to imagine that scribbling on a pad or tapping on a keyboard could fill a marathoner with energy, but I am now writing with more purpose, and appreciating each idea, thought, and feeling that I create. I’m not rushing my narrative, but giving it the care it deserves. I’m surprising myself.
  • Reading – Reading has taken on more meaning to me. I pause a little longer to absorb and ponder concepts that authors present in their prose. That pause is helping me understand things about human nature that I might have breezed past. It’s invigorating. Really!
  • Hiking – Fortunately, my injury hasn’t affected my ability to walk, and therefore hike. I can still get out among nature and see wildlife, ice form along the banks of a creek, narrow winding paths that disappear into the wilderness. A walk or hike is incredibly therapeutic.
  • Relationships – I’m kind of amazed at how conversations with other people have taken on new meaning since I’ve slowed down my routine. Rather than rush from one encounter to the next, I’m listening more, or at least hearing things that I might have missed when my thoughts were rushing to the next workout or other activity.
  • Volunteering – I’ve run with folks who live in a shelter for two years, but the injury has caused me to walk. I’ve been fortunate to get to know some of the older or disable residents who walk while the runners run. It’s helped me to be more open with them, and them with me.

I always say that everything in life has a purpose, one that isn’t always apparent. I was bummed when I had to duck out of my first ultra-marathon in January, but now I’m finding meaning in the downtime this injury has imposed upon me. My challenge will be to maintain this perspective when I’m back to full health and training for that ultra later this year.

Don’t rely on one thing to fill your life. Diversify your interest, talk with people from different walks of life, try new things, breathe, live.

About Jim Brennan

Jim writes from Bucks County, PA. and runs most places his travels take him.
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14 Responses to Diversify Your Life

  1. kmv2009 says:

    For some reason I find hiking 8 miles boring while running the same 8 miles is fun. But maybe it’s because the groups I have hiked with have gone at a rather slow pace, stopping frequently to wait for stragglers. Maybe it’s a matter of finding a comfortable pace-group. Meanwhile, I’m still trying to pool-run though I haven’t quite gotten the hang of it. Have you tried that?

    • Jim Brennan says:

      Yeah, pace has everything to do with hiking. I’ve been on some pretty rigorous hikes, but you are right they don’t compare with a good run. Never tried the aquatic running but there is a first time for everything, so thanks.

  2. Sophie33 says:

    Good for you & for other people too! Have fun doing it too. Xxx

  3. Kyle Kuns says:

    Well said and I can definitely relate …

  4. It’s great to hear that you are sounding a bit more positive. I have been thinking about what it is exacly about running that makes me love it so much. The answer isn’t just one concept, but it includes the sense of freedom, activity, nature-connectedness, being in the moment, time to let the mind wander, etc. There are other ways to achieve similar sensations, and it’s great that you are finding positives in your temporary state of not being able to run. Having said that – I hope you’ll join us again soon! =D

    • Jim Brennan says:

      I hear you, Fullmoonrunner. There are so many good things in life, but I really do miss that hour run any time of day or night. I hope to be back at it soon. Stay well!

  5. LB says:

    I’m so glad you’ve found such great outlets and good on you for keeping a positive outlook. Your comments about slowing down, focusing on the written word, and listening to the spoken word resonated with me. I find myself running (not like you run :-) ) from one thing to the next; racing around like mad … and end up missing out on things and feeling overwhelmed. All of your bullet points are excellent.

    • Jim Brennan says:

      Thanks LB. It’s so easy to get caught up in the race. Sometimes it’s good to watch one from the sidelines, catch your breath and see what all the fuss is about. When you jump back in you’ll be refreshed and more energized. Watch, you’ll see!

  6. msmidt says:

    Sounds like a healthy perspective, Jim.

  7. Good thing you can still hike… no physical activity for 3 months would be tough on any runner. If you have a pool available, and know how to swim, I swam a lot during my last injury and it was actually a great way to stay in shape. Tough but good!

    • Jim Brennan says:

      The hiking has been a savior. I swam this time last year training for my first triathlon and agree. It’s a terrific full-body, non-impact workout. Thanks for advice and stay well.

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