One thing I’ve learned over the years is that my pursuit for perfection goes well past the schoolroom and the office. It’s also ever-present on the playing field, a place where competition is often welcome.
Unfortunately, my adrenaline pushes me to battle through pain to conquer previous scores. In childhood, it landed me a few broken bones and bruises as I tried to prove girls were better than boys. In adulthood, it’s gifted me twisted ankles, shin splints, knee pain and, most recently, a pulled quad muscle as I tried to prove my willpower was better than my training.
Spoiler alert: It’s not. Our bodies are made to endure the hell we put them through, but jumping headfirst into a fitness routine can be disastrous.
Now, I’m not a doctor (surprise!), but I want my misfortunes to benefit somebody, particularly in regard to that somebody’s health. Whether you’re a crazy (uh, I mean passionate) running freak or a recovering gymaphobe, just remember: Your hips don’t lie. Weak hips and core muscles are murder on a training schedule, and the only solution is to strengthen them as you improve your exercise habits.
I’m lazy about my ab exercises (and I have the adorable beer belly to show it), but I’m also tired of the constant pain. So, as of this month, I’ve prescribed myself to strength training and yoga at least three times a week. Regular icing, stretching and rolling post-workout are now a must, whether I have the time or not. Compression leg sleeves also help with muscle recovery on long runs — plus, they look SUPER cool and fashionable.
It’s only been a few weeks, but my quad healed much faster than I expected. The one thing that would’ve been faster is if I’d avoided it in the first place — but that’s the demoralizing inner monologue that I’m trying to stop. Instead, I’m going to use all these preventative steps as a new outlet for my hyper-self-competitiveness. Because, really, the only area we should aim to perfect is taking care of ourselves in the first place.
*Title inspired by Sea Wolf’s “Middle Distance Runner,” a phrase that exemplifies my preferred running regimen. Short and sweet, but frequent.