A Painful Confession
I know, it's been a while. Tempus fugit, indeed. Anyway, some of you might be wondering where I've been the last week or two, and when I plan on resuming this whole thing (or indeed if I'm even planning on continuing at all). Have I lost interest? Could it be that I'm just waiting out the cold weather now that winter has actually arrived? Did I get all lazy? What's the holdup with starting in on the second half? Let me quickly begin by affirming that yes, I still have every intention of continuing, though it might not be for a while. But it's not simply a matter of sloth or the desire to wait for warmer weather, however, that's keeping me off the streets at the moment. So, by way of explanation, I offer the following overly-complicated and unnecessarily self-indulgent tripartite (or perhaps quadripartite) confession, replete with needlessly pretentious Latin introductions to each part:
I. Quod me nutrit me destruit. Running is supposed to be good for you, right? Or at least that's what I've always told myself. But everything needs to be done in moderation, I suppose, and I've never been one to be particularly moderate about anything. So I'll go right out and say it – I've been in a substantial amount of pain for quite a while now, and I'm running out of ways to deal with it. With the exception, of course, of taking an extended break and hoping that my body will, indeed, heal itself if I actually give it enough time to do so. What started as occasional soreness in my heels last summer has by now become more or less constant pain throughout most of my legs – not really any acute discomfort anywhere, but rather a chronic and pervasive tiredness and achiness that never goes away. Seriously, except for those few hours a week when I'm actually running (oh, those endorphins!) even the basic process of walking is proving painful. More disturbingly, I've been experiencing a weird numbness from time to time (especially from the knees down), like when your legs fall asleep or something. History of compulsive behavior notwithstanding, even I know that's probably not good.
The most vexing aspect of all this, however, is that I haven't been running all that much by most objective standards. I've averaged maybe 35 miles a week over the first half, which many runners would consider a pretty moderate total (non-runners will have to take my word on this one). So if it's not the mileage, why am I hurting? Is it that my typical run is close to nine miles long? That I usually run at a pretty constant pace of around 7.5 minutes per mile? That I do the absolute minimum amount of stretching after a run (and, if the subway's right there when I get to the platform, sometimes none at all)? The answers, I'll sheepishly admit, are indeed yes, yes, and yes. Most runners (the smart ones, at least) mix up their weekly runs so there's a nice complement of short and long, easy and hard, slow and fast. And any good runner knows how important stretching is. Again, my rational self knows all these things, but the compulsive self is fixated on the accumulation of unique miles, all else be damned.
II. Cuiusvis hominis est errare, nullius nisi insipientis in errore perseverare. Sure enough, almost everyone I know (or, at least, everyone I've confided to about the pain and numbness) has urged me to take a break and rest up for a while. Again, the rational side of my brain realizes this is because they care about me and don't want to see me injure myself more severely (or more permanently), but the compulsive side brushes their admonishments aside (or worse, interprets them as a challenge to my resolve) and vows to press forward. Now, however, I've got to agree with them (and with Cicero, apparently) and admit that continuing to run at this time would not only be potentially physically destructive but monumentally stupid. And so it's not without at least a modicum of anguish and wounded pride that I hereby pledge:
Although I haven't run in twelve days, I'm going to take an additional four weeks off with the hope that my body will undo all the abuse I've heaped on it over the last seven months and heal itself well enough that I can continue with this project and finish up running all of Brooklyn by this fall.
So there you have it. Maybe now that it's out there for everyone to see (or at least my dozen or so regular readers), I'll have to follow through or risk even more wagging fingers and well-intentioned cautionary advice.
III. "Haec olim meminisse iuvabit," said Aeneas to his shipwrecked crew after the storm. And, with a similar admixture of irony and optimism, so say I. Maybe, after I finish this whole thing, hindsight will render the next several weeks not as the extended period of discouragement and frustration that they seem now, but merely a brief interlude in which I gather up the strength and energy to see things through. That's what I'm hoping for, in any event.
Looking on the bright side, a month or a month and a half off from running will allow me to spend some quality time on the dissertation, an activity that would definitely benefit from a little more attention. In fact, I'll probably take five or six days and drive back to Iowa City, to meet with my advisor and see some old friends. As for staying in shape, the Greenpoint Y is a short walk from home, and I'm thinking that there are most likely plenty of ways to start one's day that are worse than spending thirty or forty minutes in the pool.
Finally, I'll continue to post here whenever I have anything worth sharing (and probably even when I don't), and there are still a few dozen photos in the Runs Brooklyn archives which I could dig up and post as well. So do be sure to stop by from time to time and see what's up. With any luck, I hope to be back on the road around March 1st or so.
IV. Quidquid Latine dictum sit altum viditur. Then again, you probably knew that, right? And bonus points for identifying the individual whose portrait appears above. In any event, here are a few more photos that until now have managed to avoid being posted:
Somewhere in Sunset Park
Lexington Avenue in Bed-Stuy
Sunday morning in Williamsburg