Lions might seem invincible, but did you know that the most dangerous animal on the savanna is the hippo? Indeed, if a lion picks a fight with a hippo, the lion will lose that fight every single time.
I have a confession to make – this lion just lost a fight with a hippo.
A few weekends ago, while feeling invincible, I set out for a 16 miler. It was a lovely sunny afternoon and, because I didn’t have any other plans, I decided to throw in an extra 2.5 miles.
When I got home, I felt awesome.
That evening, I felt awesome.
When I woke up the next morning, I felt awesome.
But when I got out of bed, I stood up and felt…
A shooting pain went through my left foot, and returned each time I put weight on it. Confused, I looked my foot over, checking for bruising or swelling. There was none.
Lion that I am, I diagnosed myself as “weak” and went about my day, ignoring the pain.
The next day, though, I couldn’t walk. Fearing a stress fracture, I saw the doctor.
“So, what’s the problem?” he asked.
“I’ve hurt my foot. It looks okay, but it aches so much I can’t walk.”
“How did you hurt it?”
“Well, I went for a long run Saturday. But, the pain didn’t start til I got out of bed yesterday.”
“I see. And how far did you run?”
The doctor blinked.
“18.5 miles… that’s… 30 kilometers! Why would you do that?”
I shrugged, apologetically. “It was only supposed to be 16.”
He sighed. “Let’s have a look at your feet. Take off your shoes.”
I took off my shoes but, embarrassed by my runner’s feet, kept my socks on.
“Socks too,” he ordered.
I slid my socks off, revealing my abused digits. The doctor examined my foot.
“You’ve got a soft tissue injury. You’ll need to stay off the foot until it’s 100% healed.” He ordered.
“So, like what, then. A few days?”
He blinked again. “It’ll be at least a few weeks.”
Smug lion that I am, I woke up each morning after that thinking I’d try and run. And each morning, my foot said “no”. I could do nothing but sit on my bum and keep my foot elevated.
At the end of the first week, I was so frustrated that I tried willing my foot into submission by going for a light hobble-jog.
But I couldn’t jog. Anytime I added a spring to my step, shooting pains ran through the bottom of my foot, bringing me to a halt.
Limping home, I felt angry.
That afternoon, I felt sad.
That night, I felt miserable.
While driving to work a few days later, I passed a group of gazelles out at runrise. I blinked back tears as I went by, because I felt so hopeless.
When I got there, I unloaded on a friend who was recovering from shin splints. I knew she’d understand my pain.
“The recumbent bike and spin classes have really helped me. Why don’t you try those for a while, until the pain goes away?” she suggested.
I blinked. The only people I’d seen on the recumbent bikes had tape all over their joints.
“Isn’t the recumbent bike for people recovering from, you know, serious injuries?” I replied.
She looked at my foot. “Yes.”
Sometimes, we lions are so busy chasing gazelles that we run head first into a hippo. And when we do, we try pushing it out of our way.
But a lion can’t move a hippo.
So, for now, this lion is wisely tip-toeing her way around her hippo.
And, for now, the gazelles on Fleck’s savanna are safe.
But they won’t be safe forever.
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