When NO is the Right Answer: Listening to My Body

by Jodi

Life is busy.  Too busy.  Our culture is terrible at resting. I am terrible at resting.  But we NEED regular rhythms of rest to offset how hard we work.  One day of purposeful rest can recharge us to tackle another busy week. Resting well is a survival skill I am grateful to be learning.

My husband Curt is wrapping up his second year of full time doctoral school.  He also works a more than full-time job, is an elder at our church, and somehow is still keeping his title of Best Husband and Daddy around.  He is ah-mazing.

As a family we said YES to the doctorate knowing it would mean saying NO to a host of other good things. I say YES to serving my husband.  YES to my kids and their friends.  YES to trying to keep up with the house work and yard work.  YES to daily time with Jesus.  YES to my business as a photographer.  YES to Supper Club once a month. And YES to running every day.  Almost everything else has become a NO, including good things I loved.

In this season of life, we have to stay focused on the YES's because we don't have the bandwidth to add anything else and keep our sanity.  I have had to cut out volunteering at school, evening and weekend parties or outings, and almost all lunch dates with friends.  Our poor friends who we adore have learned to just join us in what we are saying YES to so we can actually see each other.  My time with friends is on the run, doing yoga, or sitting together at a water polo/lacrosse/track meet/basketball/soccer game. It's totally lame but we all know this is a season.  It will pass and eventually we'll have some margin in our days again.  Won't that be a treat?
My BFF Kelly and I used to get our families together every Monday night for dinner.  Now, we do yoga together once a week.  It's a good compromise for schedules that aren't accommodating consistent evening commitments.
My Run Streak has really helped me stay balanced mentally.  On the days I run by myself, I pray, strategize my photo sessions, or plan carpool and how to manage the evening chaos.

The days I run with my friends are life-giving fellowship days.  We laugh, tease, pray for each other,  encourage, and help each other achieve our running goals.  It's priceless.
Running buddies at the high school district track meet.  We barely recognized each other in street clothes and showered.
Running every day has potential to get boring though, so I've found myself racing more than usual.  Training for a race keeps my running focused and gives me something to look forward to.

The Vernonia Marathon was one of those races where every single element that makes marathoning unpredictable came together positively.  I was still on the post-marathon runner's high when I remembered the Willamette Valley Marathon. It's such a pretty course, relatively easy terrain, and so close to home.  Running the first two years of the race's existence also has me invested in the success of this race.  I want to see this race grow.

I'd be lying if I didn't say that a huge part of my motivation to run it again this year was to see if I could defend my title for a third year in a row.  Pride goes before a fall people.  In this case it was literal.  I probably should have said NO to running back-to-back marathons, but instead I signed up with four weeks to train.

The last four weeks of marathon training include one big mileage week and three weeks of tapering.  I had exactly ONE week to kick my own butt with really hard tempo and speed workouts and one 20 mile run before I could ease back into taper.

The day I attempted my tempo run it was cold and drizzling.  My post-marathon body was still tired and not cooperating with low seven minute miles times eight miles.  It was H-A-R-D and I was battling physically and mentally to finish.  I finally found a groove by mile six of the tempo run and was running fast as I approached a major intersection.  I looked down to stop my watch and spot the thick, sludgy, oily mud that accumulates in the crosswalk area.  The next thing I knew I was on the ground.  Instinct took over and I found myself rolling, volleyball dive style, through the thick mud and toward the crosswalk.  It was SO embarrassing and SO painful.  No broken bones or sprains, but my hip took a huge hit and by the next day I was feeling it, especially in my left knee.
My poor clothes were covered in mud

COVERED in mud.  Dented my water bottle. Cracked my phone cover. Damaged my pride.
My whole body ached, but I still had a 20 mile training run facing me. Somehow I gutted out 20 miles two days after falling, but it was miserable.  I questioned what the heck I was doing because this "hard" didn't feel exhilarating.  It felt wrong.
Dawn ran 12 of the 20 miles with me.  Clearly the scenery wasn't ugly.
This was at mile 10.  I wasn't smiling by mile 14.
I spent the next two weeks trying to save the Willamette Valley Marathon for myself.  To add insult to injury, I picked up my THIRD cold since November - another stupid virus that started small and gained ground the longer it hung around in my body.  I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.

I modified or skipped hard workouts.  Got a massage.  Tried to go to bed earlier.  But I felt progressively worse.  There was so much fluid in my head/ears that my balance and equilibrium was off.  Eight days after my initial fall, I caught my toe on a slow trail run and face-planted in the dirt. OUCH.

Four days later - still congested and feeling awful - I did the EXACT SAME THING.  Caught my toe at the beginning of a trail run and didn't have the balance to catch myself.  Three falls in two weeks.  And a cold that was trying hard to turn into a sinus infection.  Can you say train wreck?

My body was screaming at me to say NO to the marathon and YES to an extended period of rest. But I gave my word to the race director that I would be there again this year, and I'm not one to back out on commitments.  This race was one of the rare things in this season that I said YES to.  It felt wrong to change my answer, but I knew that running 26.2 on a broken body would only result in a much longer recovery and possibly greater injury.

I asked my Supper Club peeps what they thought I should do.  They all tried not to spit their wine at me.  "Is there even a question?  You are not running that marathon.  And it sounds like you already know that's the answer but you just need someone to tell you that it's okay."
Supper Club Peeps.  LOVE them.
Their affirmation was what I needed to email the race director and tell her that I would have to sit this one out. A wave of relief washed over me as soon as I hit "send." It's the right decision.

Sunday morning I'm supposed to be rising before the sun and running for hours through the beautiful countryside.  But thanks to wise counsel from My People and learning to listen to my body I'll be sleeping in and enjoying a lazy breakfast with my family instead.
My Family - always a YES

Sometimes NO is the right answer.

I'm learning.  Slowly but surely.

What about you?

No comments:

Post a Comment