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Recovering, walking and finding grit

In the 10 days since my emergency abdominal surgery, I have (mostly) abided by doctor’s orders. Walking has replaced running. Core work and yoga have been shelved. A low-fiber diet has been swapped for my usual pescatarian lifestyle.

The physical healing is going as well as it possibly could. I won’t be able to get back into my normal routine of running, doing yoga and core work, etc. for at least another four to six weeks. In the meantime, I’ve been walking and building back up to my normal walking pace. In the six full days since I’ve returned home, I have averaged over 8,000 steps a day — more than four miles a day.

During this morning’s walk, there was a race literally going through my neighborhood. I stopped to chat with a volunteer, who told me it was the first edition of the race, a 4-mile loop to raise money to bring clean water to people in Congo.

When I told her I was a runner, she smiled and said, “You can join them.”

Not yet, I can’t, even though races are passing within a tenth of a mile of my house during the day. And , at night, I am dreaming about running. Twice, so far, to be precise.

The time off is giving my body the time it needs to recover. And not just where the surgery was performed. I had planned to take a couple of weeks off after the 100K on May 12, which I ended up missing due to surgery, in order to completely heal my foot.

At the same time, it is also giving me time to think about what my running goals are for the remainder of this year and beyond. My race calendar for the second half of 2018 includes the Chicago Marathon and the Chattanooga (Tenn.) 50-miler. There will be others, based on when I can start running again and how quickly I build back up.

In the meantime, I have been motivating myself by listening to running podcasts on my walks, enjoying the hiatus and arming myself with thoughts about grit. The grit it takes to be disciplined while recovering. The grit it will take to ease back into the training. The grit I’ll need when I strap on a race bib again.

Here are 10 quotes about grit that I’ll refer to during this stage (and likely beyond) of my journey. I hope you, too, find inspiration in them:

  1. “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strived valiantly; who errs, who comes again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” — Teddy Roosevelt

  2. “Do something that scares you every day.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

  3. “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.” — Steve Jobs

  4. “Grit is not just simple elbow-grease term for rugged persistence. It is an often invisible display of endurance that lets you stay in an uncomfortable place, work hard to improve upon a given interest and do it again and again.” — Sarah Lewis

  5. "Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear." - George Addair

  6. “How often do people start down a path and then give up on it entirely? How many treadmills, exercise bikes, and weight sets are at this very moment gathering dust in basements across the country? How many kids go out for a sport and then quit even before the season is over? How many of us vow to knit sweaters for all of our friends but only manage half a sleeve before putting down the needles? Ditto for home vegetable gardens, compost bins, and diets. How many of us start something new, full of excitement and good intentions, and then give up—permanently—when we encounter the first real obstacle, the first long plateau in progress? Many of us, it seems, quit what we start far too early and far too often. Even more than the effort a gritty person puts in on a single day, what matters is that they wake up the next day, and the next, ready to get on that treadmill and keep going.” ― Angela Duckworth

  7. “Successful people aren't born successful. Behind it all there is hard work, persistence and a lot of grit.” ― Arshad Wahedna

  8. "Never hope for it more than you work for it." — Sonya Teclai

  9. "Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it." — Henry David Thoureau

  10. "The harder the conflict, the greater the triumph." — George Washington

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