If you look at the numbers, it’s all moving along nicely. This weekend I ran 18 miles, putting in a second consecutive long run that found me on the treadmill. Last week’s 16 miler, the day after the blizzard hit, was pretty miserable. I ran 8 slow miles in the slush, cold, and wind, then hopped on the mill for the second 8 miles. My legs were so spent from fighting with the snow that the treadmill half was a real struggle. The problems I’ve had with my right foot seem to carried to my left knee, as overcompensating for injuries tends to play out. It’s a good metaphor as well as the literal state of my lower half. I stopped three times in that second eight to roll my IT bands in an attempt to ease the knee pain. The upside of a treadmill run is that you can do that sort of thing, proximity to your bathroom being another perk of 70 minutes on a hamster wheel.
Because that run was so hard, I started yesterday’s 18-mile run on the treadmill, putting in 13 miles in front of some awful reality TV that is so embarrassing I won’t even tell you what I watched. There wasn’t that much snow on the roads, but it was crazy windy and cold, and I’ve become a little diva-like when it comes to running in 40 mph gusts. Plus I was nervous about foot and knee pain and you can more easily quit a run on the mill than in the February cold when you’re 5 miles from home.
My knee only started to seriously complain around mile 15, so I was already on the road. I am much more stubborn on the road than on the mill. If I have pain on the mill, my mind’s boredom can be my body’s saving grace. I’ll more easily flip that switch and call it a day. But if I have pain on the road, I start generating rationales for why I can/should/will keep going.
Which is what I did.
- It’s too far to walk home.
- Running up the this hill will help.
- Running down this hill will help.
- Running flat will help.
- It’s too cold to walk.
- I can’t do that much damage in 3-4-5-18 miles.
- Betty Friedan said I must get outside the home.
The Feminine Mystique turns 50 this week, and Friedan and that book have been central to my life, personally, professionally, athletically. I majored in that book. I’ve taught that book to young women who say they’d never give up what many of us, of course, will compromise at some point (for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health). I’ve used that book to drive myself out of mind-body paralysis through running. And I’ve used that book to guide my mothering of a feminist son, which I am very proud to say, he is (in equal part because of his feminist dad). Because of that book, I’ve strived for a deliberate, intentional approach to living with care and principles (to varying degrees of success, but I do try).
And so, because of Betty Friedan, I couldn’t cut my run short. Duh.
I finished the run with a very tight knee and a plantar in protest. Then I walked in my back door and grabbed a shovel for the snow on my driveway. In a weird way, I think the 30 minutes of shoveling after the 18 miles were good for my legs, a true New England cool down. I think Betty Friedan would be on board with that.
I hobbled my way through the afternoon and agreed with myself that I should take today off. I got my 18 miles, but hopefully not at the price of the body that ran them. As Friedan wrote, “You can have it all, just not at the same time.” How true it is.