It’s been 6 weeks and I haven’t done any form of exercise. That is the longest time in my entire life that I have gone without running. Ok, I guess since I started walking. My mom told me once I started walking, I started running and she would always be asking “where’s Ben, where’s Ben”.
Running became my first love. When I was in the 2nd grade, shortly after the burnt chicken in the oven story, I snuck into my brother’s 5th grade cross country race. I was told I was too young to race, but I hid towards the back of the starting line, with no sticky name tag to identify me. When the gun went off I passed as many people as I could. I finished around 20th place, out of 100 or so (and beating my 5th grade brother). I tried to leave the finish area as fast as possible but unfortunately a family friend recognized me and said, “hey that’s Ben Bruce, he must have lost his little sticky tape.” So he grabbed a marker and wrote my name and my place. The old school poster board with name tags went up and among all the 5th grade stickers there was Ben Bruce (2nd grade). The 5th grade teacher from my school who told me I’d have to wait until I was in 4th grade, grew pretty angry and yelled at my parents, calling them irresponsible. My dad stuck up for me and said “are you mad that he ran or are you mad that he beat all the 5h graders you brought to the race?” I didn’t mean to pick a fight, I just loved to run, and more importantly, I loved to race others. The story goes on and a month later there was another race and here I am still in 2nd grade, still not “old enough” to race cross country (4th and 5th only). But the same teacher caught the running bug and allowed me to “call it illegally entered” in the 5th grade race. I was in 2nd grade and there was a 4th grade race, but because my brother was a 5th grader that’s the race I wanted to run. Thank you Tyler for making me so damn competitive as a kid. Another race, in which I beat my older bro again, finished 4th and still wished I could have beat the guys in front of me.
Now I am 35 years old, and I have haven’t exercised in 6 weeks. 6 weeks! How have I handled it? Pretty well I think. I have had time to give gratitude to so many things running has allowed me to do over my life, that it’s now time to show myself how much I Iove running. I still have the fire inside to achieve great things. While I have been sidelined it has frustrated me to see how many people in my life don’t exercise when they have the ability to do so. People I grew up with, people I went to college with, and mostly my wife and I’s parents. The past 6 weeks went by and every day I wanted to go run, but I knew I needed to let my body recover. Meanwhile I watched so many others give excuses, sign up for a gym membership and not use it, or simply just let the days pass without any care for their own body. So when people ask, what has been the hardest part about being injured? I think after 6 weeks of reflection, it is this. Watching others train hard has been motivating, seeing people I care about do nothing has been heartbreaking.
I don’t expect others to drop everyday life and commit to being a professional athlete, but I believe no matter how busy you are, you can include a fitness goal in your everyday life. It might not be exactly how you play it up in your mind, but you can make the change. Give up the TV or the phone for a small amount of time and get outside. Bring the phone with you on a walk if you must. Running changes lives, and you can’t fully understand the weight of that until you try running. Try doing something uncomfortable in your life and see what it brings you.
So what’s my next move? It’s not going to be fun, I am going to be in the pool, on the ElliptiGO, doing tedious strength exercises, and doing very little of the thing I love, RUN. It is easy to do what you love, it’s challenging to do the tedious things you don’t enjoy in order to get back to what you love. I am ready for both!