14-and-some years ago, I was searching for the answer to fitness. I am not entirely sure what I was searching for but I was willing to do something. Anything. Running was the most accessible activity and it came with a brilliant support group. And after an embarrassing and shaky start, I started to make forward progress.
But it could've very easily gone the other way. I was in tears when I attempted to run 3 miles with my fancy new running shoes - from the pain in my foot and shins, and the realisation that this attempt was also a fail. I was ready to throw in the towel when I took my shoes off.
Luck. Well, if you call playing barefoot on any surface for the first 18 years of my life (after which I stopped playing.) Maybe for someone else, attempting to run barefoot would've made things worse. But it was perfect for me and played a significant part in my turnaround.
There is a lot of luck that goes around in what we do. Most of them are not luck but can be traced back somewhere.
Idiotic thing #37
I thought I'd close this year out with a personal anecdote. As I've mentioned in passing, I've done a lot of idiotic things in my attempts to get fit. And some of them were harmless. But some of them could've easily derailed me. And yes, there is a point to this. But first, let's hear the idiotic thing I did.
One winter, my wife and I were visiting family in Fremont (about an hour away from SF.) And as was the norm, we went running the next morning. Now, before you think that the entire family went running, it was just me, one of my wife's cousins' who is an amazing runner (who I ended up doing a couple of triathlons as well), and his 60+ neighbour. Cold morning, perfect for running. And I, of course, was running barefoot.
My dumb reasoning was simply this. The first few minutes are always terribly cold - coz you don't have a sweatshirt on. But once you warm up, things are good. I figured the same would be happy for my feet as well i.e. the internal body temperature would take care of it. Wrong!
Running for more than an hour on roads that have spent the last 12+ hours in sub-10 degree weather, and doing this before the sun was out, ah... not my best idea.
I realised this only about 20 minutes in. My body was feeling great but my feet were starting to feel a bit blocky. I figured a bit of pace would help and did a bunch of things, instead of turning back. About 10 more minutes in, it finally dawned on me that I had not taken a smart decision. But now, I am exactly at the turnaround point and well, the fastest and only way home was to run back. So, I didn't bring it up with the two folks I was running with.
We finished our run and I was in considerable pain. And while most of my head was screaming for me to get inside the house and the heat and jump into hot water, I went around the house, opened the tap and let water drip down my foot for a good 10 minutes. Cold water. But warmer than my damn feet.
And slowly I got sensation back into my feet, and I went inside and got on with my day.
The point, of sorts
This could have gone terribly. While I wasn't running in the snow, it was still pretty darn cold. If the sun hadn't peeked out towards the end, it might've gotten worse too. But yeah, darn lucky that something idiotic I did leave no lasting impact. And what I mean by lasting impact is not losing my foot or anything dramatic. I simply mean injuring myself and scaring myself and giving up on fitness.
Injuries and setbacks are common. They will happen to you, regardless of what you are doing. Hopefully, most of them will be small and you'll figure out why it happened and get a bit more resilient. But since the idea is to keep pushing the edge of your comfort zone, you will injure yourself. It just is.
But if by luck it turns out to be a bit scarier than what you expect - say you pull your back deadlifting and everyone around you puts on their "I told you" face and tell you why you should not lift weights, who knows what might happen in your vulnerable state.
It is impossible to avoid injuries. And if you are like me, it is impossible to avoid idiotic things. But we can reduce the probability of both by being sensible, asking for advice, and listening to our bodies.
Most of my initial learnings were from watching my body, and occasionally from doing idiotic things. But just by listening to my body, and shutting my brain (which knew nothing about fitness), I was able to navigate.
Have a good end of the year, and I'll see you on the other side.