Last fall, I wrote about learning to run and coming to understand the appeal of exercise. Today I want to expand on that because I’ve come to understand things a bit better. And while I’m stuck indoors, there’s no need to be stuck inside my own head, too. So personal reflection blog post, let’s go.
I always have enjoyed moving my body – I have enjoyed a daily 2.5km walk to work for several years now. What I’ve really been appreciating for the first wasn’t exercise specifically, but rather it was training. I wasn’t just enjoying going for runs and lifting weights – I was enjoying the pursuit of progressively more difficult goals.
There are two parts to my understanding of physical training. The first component is setting goals, creating a plan to achieve the goals, and then executing your plan. Figuring out what I want – more strength, or faster runs, or longer runs – and making a plan to get there. Critical, of course, is following the plan.
The second component is injury management. Keeping injuries as light and as infrequent as possible is always my top priority. That’s why I listen to my body and adjust my plan according to how it’s handling the impact of the training.
That earlier blog post was called Learning to Run, but I was really learning to learn to run. In the eight months I’ve been running, I’ve experienced regular sorenesses and occasional mild injuries. I’ve had to learn how to deal with injury, both from a physical perspective and an emotional perspective.
I’ve come to understand this by talking to my friends about their own training. Injury is just, like, something that happens. It’s core to training, really. Take running: it has a huge impact on joints and connective tissue and whatnot, but then healing from that impact makes the body endure more next time. That’s also how muscle strengthening works: microscopic tears in muscle fibres that get healed, making the muscle stronger.
Training, as I’ve come to understand it so far, is the combined motivations of pushing towards goals and of managing injury. Neat. The two components both oppose and build upon one another. Really cool.
I’ve found myself leaning on this conception of training lately because – unfortunately, as you may already be aware, the entire world is currently held hostage by a viral pandemic and we’re facing unprecedented economic collapse. So just like physical health, my mental health has become something I’ve needed to manage more closely.
How have I managed my mental health lately?
By setting goals. By planning. By executing on the plan.
By preventing bad days. And by keeping the bad days as not-bad as possible.
I continue to find it helpful to track my mood with indicators on a day-to-day basis. I have a periodic todo item to review the spreadsheet, looking for patterns and for anything I should start (or stop) tracking. My daily routine changed quite a bit since working from home fulltime, so I’ve had to mix up the spreadsheet.
I’ve found taking walks (while staying sufficiently far from other pedestrians) to help, but it’s difficult to relax. Initially, I found it difficult to always make it out for a walk or run every day. My solution was to schedule the time in my calendar and treat it as I would treat an appointment with any other colleague.
My dad and I are exchanging emails every day. I’ve been calling my family more. I try to reach out to friends and acquaintances over the internet.
I’m playing a lot of video games. I owe you a blog post about that, actually. Oh, I’ve also been (slowly) watching through Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, for the first time! I love it! I owe you a blog post on that, too.
Which is to say, I hope to be writing more. No promises. It’s cathartic and, lately, it’s been easier than playing music.
And finally, I’m going to keep working out. I started working out at home, so moving back to home workouts feels pretty natural to me (though I do miss a lot of the equipment at the gym). There’s lots I can do with body weight, some resistance bands, and the few dumbbells that I own. Hopefully I’ll be able to continue running, but I’ll do so if it’s safe.
When this whole worldwide situation started, I was in the best shape of my life. I’ve never been in better general health, and I’m pretty proud of that. And I intend to leave this situation as healthy as I entered it.
Stay safe. Take care everyone.