13 Nov Running
On Nov 12th we started a kickstarter campaign to fund our film about mind body medicine. If you like this piece please consider clicking through to see more.
In the spring of second or third grade my parents signed me up for track and field. The next fall we started to run cross-country. I guess I liked it well enough because I continued running all the way through high school. Being on the cross-country team was a big part of my identity. I even ran a marathon in my senior year of high school. It was more difficult to run when I went to college in New York City. Still, I kept it up intermittently throughout my 20’s. When I was in my mid 30’s I had my first bout of extended back pain, and since then I have never run with any regularity.
However, two months ago today, Sept 13th (I remember because it was my anniversary and I was staying at a house that was on 13th st and 13th Avenue) I started to run again. I was at a film festival in Denver showing our film “Who took Johnny”. As I stood in the lobby waiting for the film to finish, the programmer of the festival introduced me to another filmmaker who had just arrived from Brazil. He asked about my film, and when I told him it was showing right then he bolted into the theater.
I was doing the Q&A a few minutes later when I was asked about our next project. I started to tell the audience about “All the Rage” by asking if anyone there had heard of Dr. Sarno. A few people raised their hands, and one person in the back called out that he had read the book and it had changed his life. About an hour later, at the festival after party, the filmmaker I had met in the lobby, Craig d. Leon, came over to talk. Turns out he was the person whose life had been changed by the book.
Like me, most of the filmmakers were staying at the festival programmer’s house. When I woke up the next morning I saw that Craig was in sweats so I asked if he was going for a run. “No, I wasn’t but I will if you want to,” he replied. I demurred, explaining that my leg was still weak from the bout of back pain I had experienced a couple of years earlier. “What would Dr. Sarno say about that?” he asked.
I exercised regularly, swimming a couple times a week, and taking a walk most mornings. However, I was scared to run because each time I had tried my knee had swollen, or I had sprained my ankle because it was so weak. Still, I knew that he was right; that I was avoiding it in a way that kept me from recovering. So I borrowed some shorts and we went for a short run. I did better than I thought. I then kept it up for the next 7 days straight. I didn’t have running shoes, so halfway through my second week I broke down and bought a pair. Unsurprisingly, even though I got the least cushioned shoes I could find, they helped a lot.
I mildly sprained my ankle a couple of times, but I kept at it, and my leg has become much stronger. When I first started my foot flops made an uneven sound as my strong leg followed my weak leg, but that’s gotten less pronounced. My left calf and foot hold all of my stress, so while the leg has been getting stronger, it is still extremely tight. For some people, simply recognizing the problem is enough to reverse it completely. For others of us it takes more time and effort. It’s amazing though when it does work, and the body starts to heal. Last night I ran about 4 miles. When I finish my foot is sore and tight, but each day the run goes smoother.