Way back when, in the dark ages of my broken foot, I went for an aqua jog. It was a day or two after I had broken the darn thing, and I was trying to wrap my mind around the reality of 3 months no running.
Misery loves company, and so do pool-runners. And so, when I saw what appeared to be another runner bobbing about in the "leisure swim and aqua jog lane" I struck up a conversation. Yup, he was a runner (for a local high school) and injured. His coach had told him to do nothing but aqua-jogging.
Of course, I asked the question that applies equally to prison or injury-induced cross-training: "How long are you in here for?"
He glanced back at me, his face full of misery and suffering and agony.
Of course, I made it through my broken foot. Returned to running, built up, trained hard, and became significantly faster than I had been, pre-broken foot. And that's something I've tried to remember ever since. Layoffs and setbacks aren't exit ramps; they're rest stops on the way to greater things.
And many times, I've been the obliviously chipper one, voluntarily pool-running along a friend, offering up positive talk and experience, while they journey through MRIs and PRP injections and missed races.
I usually say something like "it seems like forever while you're stuck in the pool, but when you look back a year from now, it will seem much shorter in retrospect. Promise."
And it's true. The time off never seems that bad in retrospect. (Nor does race discomfort, come to think of it.) And it also never seems that bad if it's not YOU experiencing it. (Also just like race pain.) It's all about perspective.
But that's the funny thing about perspective - it's context specific. When you're sentenced to three months, two weeks off seems like nothing. When you're in the heat of training, even a day off, or one missed workout, is hard. Especially if it's YOU.
But of course, now I'm there again. Two weeks in the pool, to take care of this stupid yet-to-be-completely-defined heel issue. Several years ago, I was (mentally) very dismissive of the anguish of the kid who had to take two weeks no running. Compared to three months, that was nothing. But now that it's me? Compared to two weeks of training with friends? Two weeks in the pool is everything.
But that's perspective for you. Funny thing. And I know that some day, in the not too far future, I'll look back at this, and note how short this period was. Probably while accompanying a friend serving his or her own aqua-jogging sentence, trying to cheer him or her up.
I just need to get there first. And that point is likely at least two weeks away.