Several days ago, I put on my running shoes for the first time in about two weeks. Approximately two weeks prior, I strained my calf muscle. I strained it good. About a month prior to that, in late July, I came off a 100 mile backpack of the PCT and my legs felt great. Felt good enough to run and so I did, every evening after work a two-mile run. I know with all the certainty in this world that if I could do one thing in this life- trade the divine pleasures of all other things for the feeling of my legs hitting the ground as my body exerts against gravity and have that feeling forever, without consequence- I would choose running.
And then I felt it- a small twinge at the top of my calf, behind the knee. I stopped running and rode my bike. That didn’t help. I stopped the bike and walked instead. It got worse. I did nothing and retired to my couch because the distance from my living room to the fridge was just at the edge of pain that I could tolerate before having to stop.
So, I have had time lately to think of my legs. They’ve hiked and biked and have run miles, and miles and when they hurt, I dragged them across the dirt and made them go a mile farther. They are scarred in places for sure and the right ankle swells from time to time, they got bruised and sometimes bloodied, scratched and after a tough day or two, a toe (or two) have lost a nail. My legs have suffered through IT band syndrome, sciatica, and the right foot wallowed in plantar fasciitis, and the knees have on occasion declared the day has gone long enough and it’s time for bed. Yes, It’s true; I have abused them and have taken them for granted. I have required my legs to do much and yet, I think, I know so little about them despite our long acquaintance. Yes, I gave it to them good.
Now I wait to heal. It’s hard. Putting my shoes on again felt good. The runners remind me who I am and where I am going to be, should it take two weeks or four weeks or four months- the outcome in known. For now, I walk along the Rec Trail between Lovers Point and the end of the fence, not more than a few hundred feet. The walk to the Aquarium from here is less than a mile. I hope to work up to half the distance in a week or so. For now, it’s a few hundred steps, slow and unsteady with frequent stops to reach for the fence, rest my leg a bit and wait for the ache to pass before I go again. A half a mile to go. I know tomorrow I’ll do better. In the meantime, I will think more on my legs and perhaps be more grateful that I have them.