“You’re not working hard enough! You’re slacking off! Push! Push!” The words were yelled to me by a man I had never seen before. He and another woman were waiting for Annie and I to pass them on the trail, so they could go back to diverting water from the stream into their backyard. He had the accent, and demeanor of an eastern European gymnastics coach, and I struggled not to take the command personally. Another morning, I might have responded negatively- not replied back, but let the words take hold in a detrimental manner. Not today.

I’ve been trying to come back from an ankle fracture for months now. After building up to seven miles, I took a month off from running, but now I’m back to the point where I can do a solid four miles without much pain…above my waist. I’ve got shin splints on my left leg for what must be the first time in ten years. God, its annoying. I’ve invested in some cool toys to help get the kinks out, and they are working, but slowly. My high school cross country coach used to say “No one ever died from a side stitch.” I try to take that message with me when I am running and one of those bothersome aches comes on. I ask myself, “Will this kill me? Will running on it turn it into a bigger injury?” If the answer is no, which it usually is, I trudge on, knowing that pain is only temporary from years of experience.

Sh*t hurts, but it's worth it!
Sh*t hurts, but it’s worth it!

Today my shin hurt, but the pain in the arches of my foot that had been coming with that pain had lessened. Progress. When the stranger yelled at me, I took heed. He was right, because I was slacking off. Even though we were mostly on trail, it was going to be less than a five-mile run, and I could push through the pain I was having for an hour or so. Annie was ahead of me on the trail. I caught up to her. Apparently she had received similar words of “encouragement”. I felt better. The mean man meant well. We finished strong, and I felt able to do even more mileage but was happy to be done for the day.

We ran the trail that borders the Rose Bowl Loop in Pasadena, cutting across a stream once we got to the ropes course and coming back by the golf course.

Harvesting Wind

Yesterday I told myself, “I am going to run today.” I didn’t. I was going out to Palm Springs to have a joint birthday weekend with a friend, and thought I would go out for a jog in the morning before the drive. I put it off, with the excuse that I did not have time. I also thought it would be nice to take my run in the desert once I got out there. I postponed the run, because of the excitement of seeing my friends, coupled with some tenacious snacking that got in my way.

This morning I woke up and uttered an expletive to myself. I felt terrible. I had low energy, even for the morning. That’s the thing with running, your body will tell you when you are slacking. Mentally I still didn’t feel like pushing myself out the door. I did another yoga flow and a couple asanas with a friend, which worked like a charm. With blood flowing, I swigged some coffee and set out in my Forester for a dirt road that ran amongst the windmills of Palm Springs.

I can come up with any excuse not to get a workout in, but those are the times that exercise turns out to be the most rewarding.
I can come up with any excuse not to get a workout in, but those are the times that exercise turns out to be the most rewarding.

The first mile sucked. The ground was rocky and I wasn’t wearing trail shoes. The road climbed up in elevation, while large rocks gave way to wet sand. To top it all off I was running against the wind that the turbines were farming. After that first mile I snapped a picture and turned back towards my car. I had proven to myself that I would get out there even in the middle of a procrastination attack. The second mile reminded me of why I do this. I had the opposite experience of that trudging jog out. I ran swiftly down a road that was more like a dried river bank, with the wind at my back. Taylor Swift belted out “Shake it Off” from my smartphone, and I did.