On this morning, at the very moment I type this, I should be chugging along on a 20 mile run; my last true long run before the Miami Marathon.
But I’m not.
Despite the months of preparation, hours of conditioning and exercise weeks on end, here I am: sitting at my computer typing at a glowing screen on the first Sunday morning of the year.
There is an inescapable energy of a new year; one that packs gyms with fresh and estranged members. Eating habits change, goals are set, and you resolve that you will finally start working on that novel you’ve been conceiving in your head for a better part of a decade. A new year is a make-believe new opportunity to be different in a way that captivates our imaginations. Everything will be better, unlike last year. The New Year’s resolution exercise implicates that the you of last year was not good enough and you must be compelled to try better; to be better.
As they* say, the best laid plans are of mice and men.
I could very well blame myself for the stress fracture that has me humbled in the comfort of my home office instead of grinding out those critical miles. Believe me, the decision to not run the marathon was a difficult one. And, despite what my doctor may tell you, it was a decision that I had to make for myself. I ran through the calf strain that put me in this position in the first place. I ran, for months, on a broken sesamoid** that has only recently healed. If there were one thing I had not been lacking in 2015, it would be the determination to run this race.
In December of 2014, when yet another injury had stalled the return of my athletic (i.e. confidant) self, I had promised myself that this time around I would take my time and place a greater emphasis on my overall well-being. I would spend less time obsessing over missed workouts and taking on more than I can handle and spend more time doing yoga and practicing activities I had forgotten I had once enjoyed in the whirlwind of my earlier twenties.
If there was one thing I have learned in the last year it is that to truly take care of yourself is a journey. There will be ever present and nagging reminders that you are not doing enough and, by extension, will convince you that you are not enough. From the highly curated lives on social media, to the bombarding judgement of media elite, and even in the well meaning suggestions from those you care about, you will never be good enough in the eyes of others. These influences may have tricked you into seeing yourself through a fabricated lens forged on a false perception of what success should look like for you.
In my case, the knowledge of my own intrinsic talent has had me beating myself up over all the mistakes I have made and grasping for a clear picture of what I was doing wrong. While self examination is never a bad thing in its own right, it had taken an emotional toll that I now know that I need to actively recover from. Just as one recovers from addiction, trauma, or even a marathon, I intend to take that recovery one day at a time.
Could I still finish my training and run the marathon at this point? I damn well could. But at what cost? Permanently damaging my body? Am I that stubborn and immobile?
Taking this time off will be a big step in my journey. How I manage this abrupt and admittingly upsetting change in plans will be a measurement in which I gauge my progress. My self worth will not be measured by how many miles I can run. It is not measured by how much I have, how my life compares to my peers, or whether my accomplishments fall short of my own expectations. The fun and frightening thing about self worth is that only I get to determine my value.
*By “they,” I mean Steinbeck and fans.
**This is a fancy word for the load bearing bone in your big toe. Some people’s sesamoids never fuse, so the word “healed” is used here loosely.