It is hard to overcome the psychological barriers needed to establish a new approach to fitness, even when we know it is good for us, when the right approach is pretty clear, and when we know our longer-term heath may depend on it.
I am, of course, talking about my current struggle to STOP running for a bit, to let an irritated left ankle heal. Yes, it can be hard to take a break from even a healthy habit. Luckily, over the last few years, I have been derailed from training relatively few times—a sprained ankle, and some normal illnesses. This time, what seems to have caused my left ankle soreness about three weeks ago is, well, being 53. I don’t really know what I did to it to make it mad, but it is.
Being a relatively rational person, I first approached this pain in my ankle sensibly—by ignoring it. I am training, as usual, for my next marathon—I have no time for an injury. When that approach did not seem to work, I shifted to a compromise, switching to other cardio exercise as a substitute for some of my running. Unfortunately, even stationary bikes, stair stepper, and elliptical machines still use the ankle. And I still did my long runs. When I have given it rest, in between activities, or a lighter day, I can tell it is getting better—this is not a more complex orthopedic problem—yet. But it is clear that what the ankle really needs to heal is true rest, which I seem almost incapable of allowing.
So, after running 18 miles on it on Saturday, and having the ankle complain about it afterward, I am finally giving it time off. Just shoot me! I hate not getting my running fix. I am tempted to give the ankle a deadline—like I’m giving it until Friday to be healed and then running Saturday. But I don’t think it understands clocks, or calendars, or even upcoming events, so I don’t think that will do any good. I am finally admitting that the ankle will tell me when it is time, not the other way around. I do see a chance to practice another Wellness principle to this situation–the mindful practice of letting go of frustration over an unchangeable fact, and peacefully accepting what is.