Saturday, July 21, 2007

0 Kiddies, Don't Try This At Home: A Precautionary Tale of Injury & Woe


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OK, so here's the reason for my hiatus from running (but certainly NOT from exercise as a whole!) from about mid-October 2006 until about mid-July 2007:

Putting all pride aside for the moment, I've decided to share the below story with you as a precautionary tale of what NOT to do when you're trying to back into shape after a long hiatus from running. This is what happens when a person gives into familial nagging & their own guilt over being out of shape. And while we're at it, we might as well toss in a measure of stubbornness on both sides of the fence as a big contributing factor to the overall outcome.

So, this is the story of how I injured myself while working out, in a rather stupid and easily-avoidable way (!):


Back in October, I'd injured my knees after a rather strenuous workout towards the end of my 10-day stay at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, AZ. I don't think I'd realized the depth of my situation, as I desperately wanted to go on the canyon hike I'd scheduled on my next-to-last day there. Needless to say, I went on the hike anyway, disregarding the painful throbbing in my knees. I took my trusting hiking stick and ended up using it as a crutch for most of the hike! The only thing that kept me going was taking pictures of the wonderful nature beauty of the area. Pictures of that hike can be viewed here.

This knee injury relegated me to several months of doing nothing (even walking was painful!), followed by several months of walking on & off (& some severely limited gym workouts!).

How did I come to injure myself in the first place, you might ask?

Now, normally I'm very practical & sane about how much my body can handle. The effects of the hot Arizona sun hadn't gotten to me, but a gung-ho family member (who shall remain nameless), certainly had. I think it may've been the close quarters of rooming with this person, but apparently prolonged exposure to this person's extreme-exercise insanity had gotten the best of me. This person made no bones about telling me that they felt that I wasn't working out hard enough, which was ridiculous, since I actually was doing quite a lot, especially for not having exercised a whole lot before my visit. (I exercised for several hours a day, starting with 2-3 mile walks at 5:30/6 am.)

Furthermore, how would this person even know WHAT I was doing, since they hadn't been exercising alongside me?! (We went our separate ways for the entire day, only meeting up for the occasional meal. I have to say that after a while, I made a point of making our meetings less & less frequent, as the overbearing attitude of this person made it harder & harder for me to deal with them in a calm manner & simultaneously retain my sanity. Sometimes keeping your cool means keeping your distance!)

Of course, everyone else at Canyon Ranch (my program coordinator, exercise physiologist, nutritionist, etc.) applauded my efforts & kept advising me to keep doing what I was already doing -- exercising reasonably. After all, I knew myself (best!) & what I was capable of doing, & for the majority of my stay, had convinced myself that I wasn't about to use someone else's yard-stick for measuring my own progress; everyone is different, & should follow their own path.

Frankly, the repeated urgings to "push myself more" had really irritated me, because this person had completely ignored the fact that I wasn't in shape to start with & had not done much exercise prior to my arrival. I was working out for myself, not for the benefit of another person. So there!!!!!!

There was, however, a very small subconscious part of me, that felt really badly for being so out-of-shape (especially since I've been an athlete for most of my life). And this part had been slowly and insidiously working on me, in concert with the aforementioned family member's exertion of external pressure. So, that's why, with only a few days left before the end of my stay, I pushed it a bit too far during one of my last workouts, finally succumbing to my own internal feelings of guilt & familial pressure. I certainly learned my lesson! If only I'd managed to block out this person's repeated verbal harangues & had continued on my usual path of sane & moderate exercise!

There was a time when I was quite angry at this person for taking me off course, but frankly, I was even more angry at myself for having listened & diverged off my usual path. Oh well -- I'm past it now, but the memory of this experience serves as a reminder/warning not to do it again!

When it comes right down to it, I'm a big believer that moderation in exercise is a really important factor to maintaining long-term success. It's important to know your own limitations, & take stock of your progress along the way. Your previous experience will serve as an excellent guide.

Enough said.

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