Thursday, 18 June 2009

The silent blogger

I haven't blogged for a fortnight, which, as I am told, is blogosphere death. I no longer have any readers, let alone followers. I am once again speaking into the silence.

What does a running-blogger blog about when there's no running? I suppose I could write about not running, about society, about history (the history of running, or anything else for that matter). But the fact is that I don't feel much like writing because I'm not running. And runners who can't run inhabit a certain darkness that they talk around but seldom say anything interesting about about, because runners are on the whole positive people, and that darkness is pain and withdrawal.

Injury is a terrible thing. My hamstring still hurts; I'm still limping; I haven't run at all since crashing to a halt in Edinburgh; I haven't succeeded in buying a bike; it hurts when I sit down. I saw my excellent masseuse Zoe last week, and she located the tear, but it will take time to heal. I had to cancel my entry to the Stathern 10k. That's the practical picture. Then there's the affective, subjective picture. I wake each morning, at dawn, feeling stressed. I move to get up and remember why. There a blunt pain in my glute. Throughout the day the pain shifts between a dull ache, a tightness that makes me stumble, and a throb. I look for things to say about this.

Elaine Scarry wrote a book called The Body in Pain, which begins with a discussion of the difficulties of describing pain (I read it as an undergraduate, so forgive me if I'm making this up). Our language is inarticulate. Physicians have devised questionnaires offering a standarised range of terms, so patients can quickly bypass their fumbling with the language and get to meaningful statements: stabbing, aching, throbbing ...

What's this pain like?
it's a despondency in the heart, like the one you feel when your standing by the side of the road, watching slow runners pass, knowing they're faster than you now
it's the black defeat of the soul, when you can't bring yourself to think about when you might be able to run again
it's the ache in the head that paracetamol won't dull, because you know that you don't like yourself when you don't run
it's a leadenness in the muscle cells, as they gradually decay
it's the fear in the lungs and the closing of the veins

That's what I want to say into the silence, as I sit at my desk, but I really don't know how.



  1. is it really silly that i am saying, "i know how you feel"? i honestly do. i worked all my life to secure a job i adored and believed in, i had to give it up bec i chose love over career. my husband lives in a city where that line of work is nowhere to be found.

    yes, i dont feel a dull, physical pain due to an injury, the way you do, but i know well how you feel when you write, "...knowing they're faster than you now it's the black defeat of the soul." i feel like that every morning when i wake up, before i go to sleep. everyone is running past me, in a haze, and i am just a spectator. even though i know i can also be out there, running with them, doing what they are doing.

    i am sorry if i have diminished how you feel, by comparing it to how i feel. please forgive me if i sound patronising or 'oprah-esque', dont mean to at all.

    i wish you a swift recovery, and please take care of your soul, dont let it "blacken". xo

    ps mrs trefusis told me about this beautiful post you had written, many thanks to her.

  2. Wow. Moved by what you say. I don't even dare start blogging. Great you've dived back into the stream. May stick to just reading others' blogs. Thank you for heartfelt post. And thanks to the inimitable Mrs Trefusis for directing me here.