Here’s the weekly breakdown:
Training Days: 2 (To Date: 44)
Rest Days: 5 (To Date: 47)
Body Weight: 149.5 (Net Gain/Loss: -10.5)
Running Days: 2 (To Date: 34)
Running Miles Logged: 31.7 (To Date: 345.8)
Average: 15.8 (Short = 11.6, Long = 20.1)
Repetition and routine. One flows naturally from the other. Repeat a given process, a given pattern of steps, enough times, and it becomes routine, second nature. I’ve been reminded of this over the course of the past week. With Charlotte’s arrival, Kelli and I have “re-allocated” some of our domestic roles. This applies especially to Marin’s needs. Whereas Kelli usually handled Marin’s bedtime routine, that has now come under my purview.
The routine is unfailingly faithful to a set of steps followed in a particular order: We read a book, usually while Marin lays on her lamb Pillow Pet. Then, as she grows tired, we move to her bedroom, where she climbs into her toddler bed. I turn on a fan, and then a humidifier, and then a CD player with soft children’s lullaby music. Finally, as Marin drifts off to sleep, I sit in the glider in the corner of the room until she’s out for the night. Any deviation from this routine is immediately noticed by Marin, who will point out the step we skipped, and who will wait until we’ve corrected the error and all is right again in the world before we can resume the bedtime routine.
Routine creeps in in other parts of life as well. When Kelli and I go rock climbing or ice climbing or mountaineering, we always follow the same routine: checking that one another’s harnesses are fastened correctly; that the gates on carabiners are locked; that we’ve tied knots into the ends of our rope on rappel, even if we’re certain the ropes will reach the ground. That’s because routine keeps us safe, especially in a high risk environment like rock climbing. In an emergency, or if we’re fatigued, or if we’re escaping from a route in bad weather, we fall back on our habits, and habits are formed by repetition and routine. When it matters most, we want to make sure we’re doing everything as safely as we can. Which is why we adhere to our routine, even when the risk isn’t as palpable and the danger doesn’t seem as immediate. Routine keeps us safe.
This is a useful reminder for the gluten-free lifestyle… The way we routinely check the ingredients label on a product we’ve bought four or five times before. The way we ask a server at a restaurant if the dish is gluten-free when it’s brought to the table, even though we discussed the gluten-free nature of the meal when we ordered the food in the first place. These little things become part of the unfailing routine of the gluten-free lifestyle, precisely because they help to keep us safe. They are the culinary and gastronomic equivalent of always tying knots in the ends of our climbing rope when preparing to rappel.
It’s also a useful reminder for training and endurance racing. The repetition and routine of training week after week, month after month, helps to keep me safe. I learn at what pace I can reasonably run over what distance. My body learns how to cope with the physical demands of trail running such ridiculously long distances. My GI tract learns how to digest food and absorb calories while simultaneously putting out enormous effort. And by learning how my body responds to running 20 or 30 or more miles, I also know when my body is reacting in negative ways; when normal exhaustion or a harmless ache or pain becomes a concern about an actual injury.
Such was my experience on Saturday morning, when I headed for what was supposed to be a 31 mile trail run with 6,000+ vertical feet of elevation gain. I started out feeling quite strong, the miles ticked by initially without too much ado. But sometime around mile 18 or so, I began to feel a strain in the arch of my right foot. This was not part of the routine. In fact, it was a deviation from it. And that put up a red flag for me. I pulled out my cell phone, placed a call to Kelli for a pickup, and pulled the plug on my run after 20 miles and about 4,000 feet. I didn’t want the nuisance of the strain to progress to a full-blown injury. As much as I have a training plan I’m trying to stick to, I also have to listen to my body. The pounding it takes putting in these kinds of miles demands that I take care of it the best I can.
And so I rested Sunday, and will rest today. The foot is feeling good, and tomorrow I’ll head out for a moderate run to assess how it’s doing. (I have a feeling I’ll be in good shape…)
Finally, my NFCA fundraising total is now up to $1,315, or 26% of my goal. Many thanks this week go out to Derek K. and Jaimi S., Logan C., Seneca M. and New Planet Gluten-Free Beer, and David. N for their generous donations. If you haven’t made a donation yet, please help me support the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness! Visit my fundraising page and make a donation today!