Yesterday I threw out most of my running gear. This was not a deliberate attempt to take up a sedentary lifestyle but a recognition that A) most of it was no longer usable and B) that I was very unlikely to be able to use it again.
For a few years during my 30s I was a keen runner, getting up early each weekday to run before breakfast and running 10 miles home from work one day and 10 miles back the next. Then it all changed. In 1995 I was training for my fourth marathon when I went in a month from doing 16 mile runs to hardly being able to walk up a flight of stairs. Slowly the reasons became apparent, my asthma was out of control and I had acid reflux (later shown to be caused by stomach ulcers) but I didn't get better. I was plague by chest infections and every time I tried to get back to running I would fall ill with yet another infection. Eventually, after about 12 years, I was diagnosed with bronchiectasis (dead areas of lung) and put on medication to keep it under control and although this has improved my health it hasn't been enough for me to go back to running.
The first few years after I stopped running were the worst as I thought I'd soon be able to start running again and each time I went for a run and then fell ill was like a hammer blow. At this time I couldn't bring myself to clear out my running gear as it seemed like an admission of defeat. So I said I'd leave it for 10 years, then 12 and then 15 but each time I couldn't bring myself to touch it as it felt too painful. Now, 17 years on, it felt right and I don't have any regrets about what I've done.
Now is the right time because I have finally accepted that my running days are over as my lungs just won't take the stress. Of course I could have got rid of it ages ago but I would always have wondered about whether I could have got running again.
When life serves up disappointment it is easy to tell yourself to get over it and to move on but that isn't always the right thing to do. Sometimes you have to let the pain and disappointment run their course until one day you realise it no longer matters and you can get on with the rest of your life.