“So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn’t think so. Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it kills us! God makes that possible. And there often seems no way of entirely getting rid of self without His aid. Many of us had moral and philosophical convictions galore, but we could not live up to them even though we would have liked to. Neither could we reduce our self-centeredness much by wishing or trying on our own power. We had to have God’s help. This is the how and why of it. First of all, we had to quit playing God. It didn’t work. Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director. He is the Principal; we are His agents. He is the Father, and we are His children. Most good ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which we passed to freedom.” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 62)
Crash, burn…injury. Yes, my recent running troubles were definitely of my own making – though of course I didn’t see the destructive path I was on at the time. Trying to work full-time, raise three young kids, coach hockey, manage the irunanonymous Podcast and website, fulfill my duties as a GSR, attend two meetings a week and put on 100 to 140 kilometers per week with no provision for cross-training or massage and little core and muscle maintenance – and volia!, a stress fracture was the verdict handed down for my “self-will run riot,” a scant three weeks before my seventh Boston marathon – a race I deeply love and which played a huge role in getting me to the doors of AA in 2015.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not bemoaning any of the commitments and responsibilities in my life (though at the time I probably was internally) – they are all tremendous blessings, but the fact is, I should have slowed down more in order to fully appreciate them and give thanks for them. Instead, I ran myself into the ground in search of the next arbitrary and ultimately meaningless finish time. Now on the other side of it all, I see how necessary and how inevitable it was. I need to change my relationship with running from here on in and I need to change my relationship with Father Time as well. In pursuit of faster times, I’ve suffered countless injuries along the way in the last ten years or so – there can’t be too many more out there that I haven’t experienced. And I’ve come to believe that just as with drinking and with life in general, I’m none too smart when it comes to running – I try to go fast and put on more miles, all the while forgetting about practicing good technique to avoid harming myself. Not to mention how practicing sound principles of rest and recovery get thrown out the window at the same time. And if I’m honest with myself, it really just comes down to selfishness and self-centeredness, which is ridiculous because it’s not like I’m breaking any records.
It’s time I practice the sound principles of running just as I’m being taught to “practice the principles” of AA throughout my life. And it’s definitely time “I quit playing God” and let Him be my “Director” – I’m tired of being afraid to “let go and let God” because I know that on the other side of that lies “the new and triumphant arch to freedom”- freedom from self-imposed pressure, time constraints, and from injury. Just how do we achieve this freedom though? Through hardship and disappointment, we look to find new ways to run and to live. For myself, that means slowing down considerably and reassessing my technique, but also my motivations and surroundings. Kind of like the Tenth Step inventory, I let it get away on me out of neglect and now I have to redouble my efforts to get it back. It’s also time to apply the Eleventh Step and make my running primarily an act of prayer and meditation – an act of seeking God as I understand Him and the power to carry out His will throughout the rest of my non-running day. As a matter of fact, all of our Twelve Steps can be applied to a running injury – I realized this and practiced it and can share with you that it worked. I started to focus on the solutions and not the problem.
Here’s the most important lesson I’ve learned in all of this so far: if I can get myself so off track in my running, then it stands to reason that I can do the same in my sobriety. For once, “Easy Does It” seems like a good idea because “Ego Does It” literally left me broken at the side of the road – I’m looking forward to making friends with “Easy” so that the “Grace of God” can enter my forward progress once again. Acceptance comes hard to us alcoholics, but I guess if I’m going to earnestly pray for God’s will for me and to have Him remove my shortcomings, then accept I must and hopefully I can move forward with just a little more grace and purpose in my steps, running and otherwise.