“No strenuous exercise,” she said.

I just nodded my head as the doctor continued to talk about doing an EKG in June when I would return to the States in order to see if I still have SVT problems with my heart. I nodded, but in my head I was thinking, “Running isn’t strenuous. Running isn’t strenuous.”

I had waited three months to run, and now this woman was telling me I had to wait again? The next day I pulled on my running shoes, determined to disregard the doctor’s orders. As I began to run on the sidewalk outside my townhouse, I remembered a poem we had read in my American Poetry class, “Silence” by Marianne Moore. Moore writes,

“The deepest feeling always shows itself in silence;
not in silence, but restraint.”

The word restraint rang over and over in my thoughts as the wind knocked my hair against my face. What does restraint say about a runner? About a person? Does a strong runner run as hard as she can for as long as she can? Or does she train herself, sometimes running hard and sometimes drawing back, sometimes pushing herself and sometimes resting? Are we meant to live life full throttle 24/7? Or are we meant to balance straining and recharging daily?

I slowed my run to a light jog. My pride was hurt. I imagined that the people I passed were thinking, “Is she running or walking?” But I was determined to respect the doctor’s orders while still doing what I love.

I am running with restraint.

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