Earlier today I had a conversation with a friend about regret. I claimed that I have no regrets, because when I make a mistake it’s usual helpful in that I then know not to do that again. By this logic I also said that were I to repeatedly make the same mistake over, I would regret that, but I always try not to do that (at least not for the big stuff). Then tonight I talked with another friend, Kathayoon (she’s the one pictured in that post with a big X on her), who asked me for advice in dealing with certain injuries while doing long distance training (she’s working towards the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco later this year!). I immediately had to mentally amend my earlier statement that I have no regrets: I deeply regret not taking better care of myself last year in my long distance training.
I generally feel proud of what I have achieved in the last year and a half running-wise, but looking back I always have a nagging sense that it could have been better. Of course I could have done certain things to improve my time, but that’s not really what I mean. I’m saying that my overall running experience during that time could have been a happier, more positive experience. When running feels good, I love it, and want to do it as often as I can get my lazy ass out the door. When it stops feeling as good I’m like one of those people that get into thousands of dollars of debt and refuses to look at their bank account – I don’t want it to be real, I don’t want to know about it, and so I try to ignore it. This leads to a much bigger problem than it should be, one that takes far longer to turn around.
After my last half marathon, two weeks ago, I said that I was so excited that my IT bands finally stopped hurting that I didn’t even care that my achilles was in terrible condition. This was true at the time of the race, but once it was over I promised myself to take a solid two weeks off from any running whatsoever, to finally let it heal. Yesterday morning I went on my first run since the half, and successfully ran one mile, pain free. I felt fantastic, like I could have easily run for another hour, but that’s how I always get myself into these situations, so I held back, which is something I need to remind myself to do more often. While last year was the time during which I re-learned how to really push myself, this year I’m working on not only knowing when to pull back, but actually doing it as well.
I’ve realized that one of my biggest problems when it comes to resting for the sake of healing injuries is all of the incidental running I do. It’s easy to stay inside and put my running shoes away for a couple of weeks, but this doesn’t usually keep me from running. Without a car, I find myself walking most places I need to go, an activity I’m extremely impatient with. Most of the time I end up running at least half the time, generally only stopping if I feel like I’m looking a little too crazy (people give you really weird looks when you’re running downtown in street clothes). Because these mini-running episodes aren’t planned runs, I don’t count them as going on a run. My body, however, seems to be incapable of differentiating between planned runs and incidental running. And so despite all the time off I think I’m taking, I’m actually sustaining the injury for even longer. It wasn’t until two weeks ago, when I began my absolute hiatus from running, that I realized how often I run from place to place instead of walk. I also re-realized how much longer it takes when you walk instead of run, and have been having a hard time getting places on time.
You’re probably wondering what I’ve been doing in the meantime to stay in shape, while I haven’t been running. Mostly I’ve been eating a lot more than usual and reading a lot more books. It turns out that this is a relatively ineffective way to maintain fitness. I’m sad to report that on the Ultimate Hard Body spectrum, I’m sitting on the “less hard” end. Now that I’ve realized that this program isn’t working that well, I’m working on putting more movement into it. I started this weekend by walking for miles and miles around the Las Vegas strip, and carrying weights around in my purse for increased difficulty (seriously, my shoulder got really tired). We probably walked at least 16 miles on/around the strip in the three days we spent there. Then yesterday since I only allowed myself a one mile run, I did at least an hour cool down by floating down a lazy river. And don’t worry, the word “lazy” is misleading – remember it’s the river that’s lazy, not the person floating down it.
Hopefully this training program will progress until it blossoms into a super hardcore regiment that gives me an Ultimate Hard(er) Body, but this time I’m really going to try hard not to look forward too much to that goal, and instead focus on more reasonable training that prevents injury. Because regretting things is silly, but I just might have to do it if I keep screwing this up.
PS. I got another Charley Horse last week, which means I’ve had four in the past year. That’s four more than I’ve had in any other year of my life. This is an upsetting developing trend.