Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Scary moment

Yesterday afternoon, I went for a run. The weather was nice and it wasn't too hot, and I had finished a whole bunch of class prep stuff, so I decided to reward myself with a run. (Yes, I know, I'm weird.)

The run wasn't one of my better ones. The first 10-15 minutes were OK, normal pace, all that jazz. After that, I started to feel really, really tired. I was sucking down water and struggling through terrain that I usually do with ease. I had to stop and walk up a short but steep hill that I normally handle with ease. I felt myself starting to cramp.

And then I ran out of water.

The younger me would have kept running. "Hey, I'm only a mile or so from home; I'll be fine!" But the older, wiser, post-almost-ended-my-running-altogether-injury me knows that no run is worth risking my health over. That dehydration on a warm summer day is nothing to take lightly. That cramps and fatigue are not good signs. So I stopped running and walked the rest of the way home, slowly, so that the cramps would stay at bay.

I think what happened is that I was dehydrated at the start of my run, and that things just deteriorated from there. And unfortunately, around here none of my running routes have water fountains (not even at the parks! unbelievable), so whatever water I carry is the only water I have for my run, and that was clearly not enough this time. I'm still dehydrated today.

Part of growing up is having the wisdom to know when to push yourself and when to give yourself a break. Sometimes you need the push to get yourself past complacency, but other times pushing will just leave you broken, injured, burned out. Knowing the difference is tricky; it comes with experience, but also in trusting your instincts. Trusting my instincts yesterday definitely prevented me from injuring myself or suffering heat exhaustion. In the past, I have ignored my instincts and suffered the consequences (the injury I mentioned above was one of those times).

I wish I could remember this lesson more often in my professional life, too.


Clyde said...

Congrats on being so smart!! I've had a tough time adjusting to the fact that my aging body doesn't heal as quickly, and seems to get itself injured in unexpected and surprising ways. Also becoming increasingly sensitive to (not) being hydrated. Good on you for staying present to what was going on. I need more role models like you.

Scooter said...

Staying properly hydrated throughout the day is key, especially in the summer. If you may not be fully hydrated, start drinking liberally 2 hours prior to a run. (On clue to having been dehydrated is that taking fluids will often induce a visit to the toilet for a "sit down" visit...I know you sit for all, but trust you know what I mean.) If this happens, and it will usually occur within about 45 minutes of becoming well hydrated, it eliminates the risk of those urges during your run. If you can take fluids copiously for a couple of hours prior, then you should be able to run in almost any conditions for up to an hour without taking water.

Jane said...

Scooter, good tips! Thanks! It turns out that I was actually also coming down with something, which may also explain the extreme bonking that day.

Clyde, I totally know what you mean. I still like to pretend that I'm 18 and that I am incapable of being injured. :) It takes a lot for me to overcome that silly inner voice and do what I know is best for my body.