Milchtoast

Chronicles of a writer abroad

Know when to fold ’em

2 Comments

I am a person who likes to achieve their goals. Who usually operates with a “when I say I’mma do something, I do it” mentality.

But at the same time, I understand that sometimes your aims overshoot your means and you have to make concessions in order to “know your limit and play within it.” You have to take to heart the ineffable wisdom of Kenny Rodgers when he urges you to “know when to fold ’em…know when to walk away, know when to run.”

Or not run. Not as much, anyway.

Things came to a head in my marathon training this week. It was the morning of what would be, by its full unfolding, a 33 degree day. Still slightly jetlagged, I’d gotten up at as early an hour as I could stomach to try to avoid the strong sun during my long run — but by two hours in, the sun was strong, and the day oppressively hot. I was trying to ration the one litre of water that my hydration belt carries, knowing that it wasn’t good to be feeling so thirsty and that I should have found a way to bring more fluid. And to make things even more unpleasant, there was a painful popping sensation in my left hip with each stride of my left leg. As I endured another hour like this, I considered my motives, and the marathon training season so far. It’s been, to select just one word, joyless. The heat (which I do not tolerate well) has been unrelenting, the new terrain has been challenging, the distances have been…just too far for anything close to comfort.

I went home and thought some more. I hobbled around, nursing my hip, which did not have any serious injury, just an annoying and unpleasant condition called “snapping hip syndrome,” wherein the inflamed iliotibial band snags on a bony structure in the hip at each step, producing the snapping or popping feeling. As I type this, it’s already gotten much better, but it was a message from my legs – too much, too soon. We’re not ready.

I chose to listen to them, and I’ve now downgraded my entry in the Amsterdam marathon to the half-marathon distance. My revised plan is to run that race as well as I can, which will provide a solid base for training for and running the Zürich marathon in April.

If I want to, that is. From time to time I have to remind myself that running, in addition to being something that I do to stay healthy, is something that I have really enjoyed in the past, and that I want to continue enjoying — I don’t want to burn out, as I feel myself doing. Furthermore, there’s no need to pretend that anything more than my pride hinges on me having to put off running my second marathon. At this point, I’ll happily take a reduction in pride if it means I no longer have to lope through long runs like an injured animal crossing the fiery Sahara.

So there you have it. This grasshopper will be exercising patience…and, I hope and suspect, rediscovering the joy of this thing as I resume training at a more civil pace.

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2 thoughts on “Know when to fold ’em

  1. I’m proud of you for listening to your legs when they tell you to slow down! Hopefully you will enjoy your longer runs more now because you are running them for fun. I get that hip popping thing too sometimes, but only on my right side.

  2. Oh my yes, the advice to listen to your body has much wisdom. Popping noises make me cringe, though I realize it is a temporary thing. Running, for you, is supposed to be fun not an endurance trial. Enjoy the moment and let tomorrow look after itself. xo

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