It’s hard work trying to stay in shape on a continuing basis. Work, family, friends, habits and whims pull us in conflicting directions. We all have our individual compass which uses our motivation like the North Star to guide us ahead. Until that motivation sputters and coughs.
There is a scene in the film called “The Conjuring” which reminded me of the function of motivation. The wife of this demonologist couple says of evil artifacts that you can “destroy the vessel but you can’t destroy the Evil.” All you can do is hold it safe for awhile to prevent it from causing harm now. The same can be said about heart disease in relation to exercise. Being active can help keep it at bay or at least slow the progression, inactivity will kill you.
I’ve been training hard for over a year now. Bringing everything I learned in Cardiac Rahab with me to every workout. I kept on track through Winter and Spring with my marathon training goals. Until I injured myself in three stages over the course of the Summer. During the Columbus 10k in June I was keeping up with the 8.5 pacer chatting about our various stories. He’d lost something to the tune of 50 lbs through running. I found an escape from anxiety in it. Toward the end someone encouraged me to push harder and lean into the downward sloping hill. While I ran at a faster pace I didn’t do myself any favors. It was later that week when I sprained my ankle on a training run which put me out of commission for a week. After I recovered I got back to my training. Marking the start of my optimistic marathon training program. Things were going well until July.
This part should be proof that no matter what age a man achieves … he can make really bad choices. So it was one of those moments on a Friday night where I was in the kitchen when my brain said “why not do some chest dips?” Did I have the equipment? No. But I did have a built in bar in the kitchen and a heavy island adjacent where I prep food and store a whole mess of cooking tools within reach. So I was doing chest dips. When the island started to slip away I remembered that the structure was built on… rollers. Needless to say I ended up on my ass but not before my weaker foot tried to catch some of the fall. THUD!
For the next two weeks my ankle was swollen and angry about being twisted in an unnatural way. I took care of the injury with pro advice from a colleague using Rest Ice Compression and Elevation. During that time my activity level tanked. Running outdoors in the sun or summer rain is one of my great new pleasures. It makes me feel free and reminds me to center. You see I’d been thinking of closing my gym membership recently because I rarely use it anymore. But without the ankle I could not run. I know each skipped workout or bowl of kettle chips makes the Cardiac Artery Disease stronger. But I had lost the fight in me. Truth is I made it to the gym a grand total of three times in two weeks to swim and to use the rowing machines. Smack in the middle of July.
I underestimated the power of a simple sprained ankle over my motivation. It makes me think of the nature of motivation. Lifestyle in the face of life and death situations. Maybe not in the sense of immediately today but in relation to the nature of lifestyle. The everyday choices. A better way to have dealt with this would have been to acknowledge the situation and pivot. Switch to swimming 4 days a week which my gym offers. Or mix it up with rowing machine as that didn’t aggravate my ankle. As it stood, I swam twice and did the rowing machine once. Those are sad stats. But with all failure there is always a lesson.
The lesson is to be ever vigilant about thinking in fixed terms. Be flexible. Pivot. Don’t be hard on yourself for stupid choices. Acknowledge and move on and do better. Get help when you need it.
I had a pep talk with myself last week. Bucked up and got an x ray of my ankle. Everything turned out to be OK, no tendon or ligament tears, and ready to get back to the running trails. I plan to get back to the marathon training track this week. I’m going to make an effort to get back into forcing myself to workout indoors at the gym. Weights, swimming and rowing machines. It’s all about the balance of activity that has proven cardio-protective benefits anyway. I love running, but when I’m injured… I can’t let it stop me in my tracks either.
Failure is a gift. Sometimes it gives us the lesson we need when we need it most. So here’s to stupid choices and looking optimistically forward.