“You’d rather be ten percent under-trained than one percent over-trained”

                                                            `                                               ~Coach Ryan Salem

I may finally have done it. At the start of the year, I was astonished that no matter how hard I pushed my body it seemed like it was eager to adapt to higher mileage and equally capable of doing so. Most years, I run a little more than a thousand miles. This year I’ve run well over double the usual, and I still have over a month to go. All that being said, it feels as if maybe I’m finally wearing down. I have a new issue with my right hip, and it seems likely its related to the pain in my right knee. My left knee, also, has been registering some complaints, especially on my long runs. While I seem to have the issues with my feet under control, they’ve been replaced with some that seem even more likely to shut me down. Worse still is the general fatigue. Whenever I go out for a run, as I did four times this week, meaning that three times I did not, I start out feeling fresh and strong only to begin to feel heavy part way into it. My body, it seems, needs a break.

The timing is good, I suppose. At Thanksgiving dinner, my friend Brian who, along with his family, joined us for the meal, casually mentioned that we had a marathon in Memphis next weekend. “That’s next week?” I asked. I thought we had two more weeks. How does a person get caught off-guard by the information that they are running a marathon? Sheesh. All that to say I’m into my taper now, further in than I realized, and I get to do a lot more resting this week in preparation for the St. Jude Marathon on Saturday.

Over the weekend, two of my former cross country runners stopped by for coffee. They’re both in college now, running casually and keeping up with classes. They’re both extremely bright, and more importantly, they’re excellent humans. I agreed to run the Lincoln Marathon with one of them next year, and signed up for that over the weekend. It seems to me I’ll need to get some serious, intentional rest in, and maybe devote more time to Peloton, core work, and lifting, if I’m going to be ready to tackle the five marathons on my calendar for next year when it comes time to start training in January.

Out of Afghanistan this week, the news is a mixed bag. On one hand, there are headlines about women pushing back against the Taliban, and the UN denouncing the Taliban’s treatment of women. While the latter is really just symbolic, or seems to be from here, that it remains on their radar is somewhat encouraging. Then there’s the ugly news. The Atlantic reported this week that if Congress doesn’t take action, thousands if not tens of thousands of Afghan refugees who were evacuated to the United States last year when the country fell could be deported. This is significantly complicated by the fact that control of congress just passed from the Democrats to the Republicans and, to make matters worse, there is an internal power struggle in the GOP regarding leadership that will only be exacerbated by the coming presidential primaries. Put another way, I have my doubts that the House of Representatives will take meaningful action on behalf of refugees leading up to a presidential election. If you’ve ever been inclined to write your senator or representative, now might be an excellent time.

This morning, Monday, my kids woke up early and climbed into my lap. True enough, they aren’t real conducive to me getting my work done in the mornings, but the ability to snuggle with them, to study Spanish with them in the mornings, and to spend more time with them in general was much of the impetus for my change in jobs this fall. That is to say: I don’t mind. As I sat here snuggling them, I was reminded of what a friend said to me in Sarajevo this past summer, something to the effect of “You compose yourself with the confident demeanor of a person who knows they have a home to return to.” I don’t recall his exact words, but the concept of what he was saying is something I reflect upon a lot. I have no doubt that he was correct, and I am equally convicted that every person should be able to feel this way. I end today thinking about the parents, in particular the Afghan parents in the United States, whose future remains uncertain. I once thought that running a few thousand miles this year was going to be how I helped them. Now I am beginning to realize it will need to be far more than that. I’m sure that no matter how tired I feel, it’s nothing compared to them.

~Mark

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