“If this is indeed the end of the road for you, you will find something else. It might take time, but it will happen.”

This is a story about two of my friends, Emily and Stefanie. It’s a story about how life never goes the way we plan, and while that can be discouraging, accepting these “detours” and making the best of them is always the ideal path to take.

About a month ago, both Emily and Stefanie were easily identified as “runners.” While there is not an official list of criteria that defines a runner, they have an impressive list of achievements such as state-ranked runner in high school, sub-one hour and 40-minute half marathon times, Boston Marathon finish and multiple top three placements in their age group in various races.

I call myself a runner and have not accomplished any of those things … so Emily and Stefanie are most definitely runners.

But as of right now, in June 2017, neither one would call themselves a runner.

Stefanie’s story

Stefanie is reluctantly on a running hiatus because of a knee injury. It’s not something you would have seen coming, as her year was moving along quite smoothly. All of her training led up to her running this year’s Boston Marathon in April. She was intensely dedicated to run well and qualify for the 2018 Boston Marathon. For those not aware, this prestigious race is not open to anyone wanting to run, there are strict qualifying standards, and for most, the goal is to ensure you run a great Boston race to secure a spot for the next year.

Her race started well and she was on pace for a 2018 qualifying time, until the last part of the race when heat overtook her and while she finished strong, her time was not good enough for 2018.

Her plan for the next month was to continue marathon training (yes, after just training for one was well as running one) and run the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon and use that as her Boston qualifier. In the weeks following that, she would stay in shape with a relay race with friends in Massachusetts and then run a half marathon in Mammoth, California.

But something happened with her knee while training for that second marathon. Not only did she know she wasn’t up to race fast, she was not up to run at all. She gave away her Rock ‘n’ Roll bib, she was part of non-running, cheer squad for Massachusetts race and she didn’t even make the trip to Mammoth.

At one point she reflected on her misfortune: “All I could think about was how hard I trained and yet missed all of my goals, how I couldn’t attempt to re-qualify for Boston, how there was zero chance of me re-qualifying for 2018 and now flying across the country to attend a race I had to drop out of.”

Emily’s Story

Fresh off a sub 1:40 half marathon in August 2016, Emily found herself on crutches with a hip fracture. And over next year and a half see-sawed she between a healthy and not so healthy. At the beginning of June 2017, she finally received something she wanted (an actual diagnosis for the chronic hip problems), yet it came packaged with the devastating news.

She had Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, the condition that was responsible for the multiple hip fractures and the reason she could not heal properly. While there was a specific list of things that this diagnosis meant for her body, the most immediate was the order not to run anymore. Not even a light jog to stay in shape. If fact walking or hiking more than 20 miles is no longer a possibility either.

Detours and Making the Best Of Them

Now that you’ve heard their individual stories — admittedly a bit of a downer — it’s time to talk about the good that comes of this. In a twist of fate, both of these ladies (close friends BTW) are going through this at the same time. I think it’s worth mentioning that both of them are Millennials, one under 25 (Emily), the other admittedly on the cusp of that generation (Stefanie) in her early 30s.

The reason I bring this up is that time is absolutely on their side. Honestly, regardless of your age, there’s always a reason to believe that whatever you are doing right now does not have to be the thing you are doing tomorrow or five years from now. But certainly, at 25 or 30, time is your greatest friend.

Emily probably looked at Stefanie and others ten years her senior and figured she’d be right there ten years from now, running and Boston qualifying. Running is what defined her.

And coincidentally it was another sport, gymnastics, that Stefanie had to leave behind because of injury about a decade ago.

“Running was my replacement sport, it was a solid six years between the end of gymnastics and finding running,” said Stefanie. “While I occasionally miss gymnastics, I no longer feel like a piece of me is missing.”

And Emily is learning that running does not have to define her either and is already looking toward other physical activities that will fill that void. Stefanie also knows that this running hiatus is temporary, and has experience with life pivots.

At 25 I was traveling the country, hanging out with major league baseball players, hall of fame sports legends, writing about sports and assumed that was my destiny in life. Fifteen years later all of that is a distant memory and the path I have found (DJing, business coaching, inspirational writing, “husband-ning” and parenting) is by far a better life.

I started this article with a quote:

“If this is indeed the end of the road for you, you will find something else. It might take time, but it will happen.”

The quote was a message that Stefanie left Emily, just over a month BEFORE the “no running” orders. It was both poignant and foretelling.

But most of all, it was damn good advice.