Monday, March 11, 2013

Running Lessons: Take everything into account

My running didn't go well the early part of last week and it took a few days to figure out why. Sure, it was cold and rainy but I've run in much worse. And, yes, things were busy at work but - again - I've been much busier without it affecting my training. It only dawned on me what the trouble was when I went to see my massage therapist Wednesday evening. Somehow, without my noticing, the muscles in my legs, back, arms and neck had contorted themselves into a series of hard knots that took all of Karen's considerable skill and a good deal of effort to untangle. By the time I dragged myself home that evening, I ached all over but at least I was moving more or less normally again.

After a hot epsom salts bath and a long sleep, I felt well enough Thursday to tackle my hill training session with enthusiasm but then was completely exhausted again on Friday. Even with another good night's sleep that night, my energy levels were low when I headed out for my long slow run Saturday and they didn't improve as they usually do when I run - though the weather was glorious and I was running in some of my favourite places, including this path through the pines and Peace Park (pictured above).

At about the half way point, I found myself feeling quite discouraged. After all, I'd run regularly all winter and had only just started serious marathon training. How could I feel so tired already?

Of course, what I was forgetting was how important it is to take everything into account when assessing my running performance. The reality is I've been frantically busy at work over the past few weeks, and Husband and I are in the midst of dealing with an assortment of "big ticket" items - including a kitchen renovation, plans for our next trip to Europe, and the removal of a mountain bike obstacle course that someone (as yet unidentified) built on our property without our knowledge or consent. (No, I'm not kidding. Here's a picture to prove it. There are four or five structures like this one which will all have to be dismantled before the local bikers discover them. )

Needless to say, it's been mentally and physically exhausting dealing with everything and, like most people, I hold tension in my body, so it really shouldn't have come as a surprise when it balked at the notion of running 18kms on Saturday. It was simply telling me it was tired and stressed and that I needed to take everything into account.

The same holds true in the rest of life, of course. We often expect other people to behave perfectly, ignoring the fact that they are all too human and life is rarely simple. It would be far easier on everyone if we tempered our expectations with a more realistic assessment of others' capacities.  Perhaps, they really are as stupid, selfish, naive, or inconsiderate as we think they are but it's far more likely they're simply flawed human beings doing the best they can in the circumstances. And we should show similar compassion in evaluating our own actions. We may have good reason to regret things we've done or said but, taking everything into account, chances are we did the best we could at the time. As George Eliot puts it in Adam Bede:
“A man carries within him the germ of his most exceptional action; and if we wise people make eminent fools of ourselves on any particular occasion, we must endure the legitimate conclusion that we carry a few grains of folly to our ounce of wisdom.” 
In closing, here's a quick rundown on my training last week:

Total # of runs: 3
Total distance: 32 kms
Longest run: 18 kms
Hill training: 1 x 4 hills
Tempo runs: 1 x 8 kms
Other training: yoga (1 hour)

1 comment:

  1. You have a lot on your plate right now, Janice! Glad to see you've given it some thought and cut yourself some slack. You're still out there running, putting one foot in front of the other, so pat yourself on the back for that!

    Loved your last paragraph - about the flawed human beings and the self-compassion we sometimes forget to extend!