Sunday, December 25, 2011

I rest...and then I play

Something must be said for God’s ability to time events just right. Usually, it makes a lot of sense to me. Yet other times, I wonder just what He was thinking. For instance, this past week my new K-Swiss K-Ona S shoes and Timex Run Trainer GPS and heart rate monitor arrived in the mail. For the last two weeks I’ve needed new running shoes after realizing just how much I’ve worn down all three pairs I’ve rotated through this past year. The new Timex is my motivation to start figuring out my heart rate zones in an attempt to make my training that much more efficient. So why haven’t I tried them out yet? God said it was time for a break. He knows me well enough that it takes something big, something insurmountable, to slow me down for a good while. He made me sick.

In all reality, I figured it was about time to finally be wiped out. A long race season, continuing my hard training efforts with the stress of school and finals makes me wonder how it didn’t happen sooner. Nonetheless, it doesn’t make it any easier knowing others continue to swim, bike and run while I’m sniffling on the couch, consuming calorie after calorie that will never be burned but likely stored right where I least want it. So far, four days have passed and yes, I’m freaking out like an animal that has been caged up for months.

I’ve read taking time off really serves its purpose for all athletes. Really? I wasn’t so sure a couple days ago while attempting to bust out some leg lifts, side crunches, and pushups before I got too dizzy and nauseous. Yesterday it finally hit me as I was walking out to the hot tub in an attempt to warm up and fill some of my time: Whether good or bad, the only things that truly define me are school and training. That’s it. That’s all I do anymore. It wasn’t until I found myself in the middle of Christmas break, sick, unable to do either of those two things, that I didn’t know what else to do.

So after taking my dog for a walk, I sat down in front of the piano. It, too, was one of the few things that consumed much of my childhood and life through high school, especially in preparation for my senior concert. It burned me out, and I abandoned it shortly after high school graduation, leaving my concert pieces to slowly die in my head for the last six years. Now, the more stressed I find myself as a result of school, the more I long to sit at the piano and just…play. It’s funny to think how much I struggled to practice just 30 minutes each day when I was a kid. My mental stamina improved as I started preparing for my senior concert, which required at least two to three hours of practice. Yesterday, I didn’t even realize it when over an hour had passed with me teasing out Chopin, Schubert, and Beethoven’s passages of music from my brain. Having memorized my pieces so well, well enough to perform them in front of hundreds of people without messing up (or at least knowing how to recover when I did), my fingers once again recovered the muscle memory to play line after line even when my brain lagged a few beats behind.

 Now that I think about it, training has grown into a beast of its own, much the same way that piano did. I can remember going on 2-mile jogs to get in shape for the upcoming soccer season and thinking that was enough. I can remember when 20 minute swims in the pool—back and forth, back and forth—all at the same speed left me winded. Today I hardly wince when I think about my average training day—75-minute swim in the morning followed by a 90-minute trainer ride in the evening. Two-mile jogs have transformed into two-hour runs. So what will it take to keep me from burning out like I did with piano six years ago?

God says rest. So I rest. My K-Onas aren’t going anywhere without my two feet inside. My run trainer can wait a few more days before I strap it on my wrist. If God grants me 365 days to abuse my body, I can relinquish five of those to let it heal. Until then, I’ll stick to my low-calorie, broth-based vegetable soup and fruit smoothies in an attempt to keep in some kind of shape during this holiday season. Lord, just please make it only five days…

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