With shredded feet but a solid head
Meditation for a strong, and peaceful, mind — weekly update
My toes are riddled with deflated blisters. The skin crinkled like raisins and the spots hurt like hell.
Oh, and the tendon in my ankle is inflamed. Curling my toes feels like sticking a knife between my ankle joint. Fantastic.
For this performance of “Woe is Me,” I’d like to thank the Academy. Thank you, thank you.
Recovering from a race takes time. Sometimes, it’s a lot of time because of injury or the nature of the race. Apparently jetting down rocky trails isn’t great for the human body. Conventional wisdom varies on how long to rest, some suggesting a day of rest for every mile raced, others every two miles raced or simply taking a few weeks off. Either way, I’m only lacing up to go for walks, which can get annoying for a body born to run.
My response to curious colleagues has been “Yeah, I’m feeling all right” or “The body is healing up, just slowly.”
Amid the much-appreciated race congratulations from friends and family, a single text message stood out, though. “How are you feeling mentally?” a good friend asked. The person knew the mind is where the real damage can be done. Physical healing takes time, but I’ll come back, just slowly.
How I’ll respond mentally is not as guaranteed. As I’ve written, my ultramarathon attempt was a failure. Journalist Brad Stulberg and running coach Steve Magness described in their new book and a recent interview, how negative thinking following a sports performance can create a negative hormone response, which the body duplicates before its next performance (Think kind of like Pavlov’s dog, although that’s simplifying a lot of science and probably infuriating some people with multi-year degrees).
The upshot is that controlling thought processes, recognizing and redirecting negative thinking, has more benefits than immediate stress relief. Starting a meditation practice, albeit infantile, has helped me cultivate a little more mindfulness.
My practice isn’t perfect. Half the days I find little benefit apart from having the time to make an extra-long, mental to-do list. Sometimes, sucking at meditation is doing it right. Like any kind of healthy lifestyle practice, it’s the consistency that counts.
So, while my body cashes in for some R&R, I’ll be practicing meditation with a little more intention. Doing so could payoff when I do get to lace up and return to the trails.
“Everything is created twice, first in the mind and then in reality.” — Robin S. Sharma
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