It Could Be So Much Worse

Well, we’ve had some absolute shit weather here the last few days. I don’t mean it rained or snowed or hailed or was windy. Nope, that would be interesting weather. We had 100 degree days with no breeze and stifling wildfire smoke. I live right at the base of a 10,000 foot mountain, and the air quality was so bad you couldn’t see the mountain at all.

So, outdoor activities last weekend were curtailed for all but the most hardy or stupid. I had a 17-mile run scheduled for Sunday and couldn’t do it. Or rather, I wouldn’t do it because the costs seemed to outweigh the benefits. Someone pointed out to me recently that doing a marathon isn’t exactly good for you. I don’t think that training runs that lay you out for two days afterward are especially good for you, either (not sure where the line is there, maybe 10 miles or so). So adding smoke inhalation to the injury of 17 miles just seemed like an all-round bad idea.

The funny thing is that I never want to run more than when I suddenly can’t. I was in a terrible mood on Sunday, angry that my run was being shelved and generally restless and headachy from all the smoke. I ended up doing a little home workout instead, because nothing cures me of a bad mood better than a little self-flagellation. I did some planks, and got bored and set up a camera to take a selfie, which I posted on Insta with a complaint about the weather.

My friend Tolan, who went over his road bike handlebars recently, responded to the post with “I dream of planks. My hairline fracture is still not healed from my OTB a month ago. Do one for me!!!”

Well, slap me silly and call me Carol.

Just as I was wanting to run so badly because I couldn’t, my friend was lamenting his inability to do planks of all things, because he couldn’t.

The wind picked up this morning and blew the smoke away. I went for my scheduled 7-mile run, and I was damned grateful for it. In fact, I made it a point to be ultra mindful about this run.

I have a lot of mantras for when the going gets rough on a training run, and the one I think about most often is that there are people who can’t do what I’m doing. I could be in a wheelchair, without the use of my legs. I could get hit by a bus tomorrow and never run again. I could (knock on wood) be injured and unable to keep up my marathon training. I will someday get so old that running will no longer be an option for me. I am SO GRATEFUL that I can run these days, that I have strong legs, that my lungs and heart are healthy.

I made it a point this run to feel everything. I reveled in my ability to clear my head with exercise. I enjoyed my deep breaths and elevated heart rate. I gave a nod to the twinge in my shoulder that’s a constant dim background pain. I delighted in my slight soreness from my indoor workouts because they mean I did the work (although I’m pretty sure my upper hamstrings have been sore since, oh, 2015). I listened to each footfall and was deeply grateful that my feet are holding up for all of this training. I concentrated on my lightness, my agility, the air between steps. I leaped up curbs and picked up my pace. It was exhilarating.

It was the best run I’ve had in a long time.

So much of this marathon training has felt like a chore. I needed this past week off from the grueling training schedule, but more than that I needed a reset in my train of thought. Tolan’s comment on my post gave me that.

So the next time you get bogged down in your training, or in any part of life, really, remember to be grateful. Because whatever it is, someone else is wishing they could, and can’t.

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