independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Know when to walk away and when to run

One of my favourite philosophers is Jim Rohn. The American, who died in 2009, had a simple yet powerful view on life and on what it had to offer. In writing this week's column, one of his quotes came to mind. It was, "Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live".

You will recall a month ago I shared a goal of mine. It was to run the 'Donadea 50k' in Co Kildare in mid-February. Well, I didn't and here's why.

Up to two weeks out, training was going well and I had ticked almost every box. Just 13 days before the event, however, I developed a flu/ache virus in my body and it was intent on lingering for a while.

In fact, two days before the event, it was still an unwelcome companion. And no, it wasn't man flu, like you might be thinking!

In the interim, I went nine full days without running, something which for me is as rare as a winning scratch card.

On Thursday – two days before Donadea – I was on the phone whilst climbing just two flights of stairs in my office building. As I reached the top, the person on the other end of the line enquired as to the state of my health.

"Why are you asking?" I responded. Apparently I was breathing heavier than an overworked mountaineering guide.

I knew then that I had to listen to my body. Fifty kilometres (31 miles) is a hell of a distance to run. During two previous staging's, the event tested me to the limit and on both occasions I was in the whole of my health.

Like me, I am sure you exercise for the challenge, for fun and for its health benefits. I knew that competing on this occasion would be foolish. I knew that – despite a huge hunger to run – I had to respect my body.

I have many other goals and ambitions in my life and I need a co-operative body to do them all. I had to respect the signals my body was giving me.

So, I got in touch with the organiser and gave my apologies.

Perhaps I have learned the importance of taking care of and list- ening to my body, just like Mr Rohn suggested.

Therefore I must take care of it and not push it when it is unwise to do so. Thankfully – when in the whole of my health – I push it to my own personal extremes. However, I have learned to be utterly respectful of it, too. I need its co-operation long-term because it will accompany me to all of my goals. This means knowing when to back off.

If your car showed signs of mechanical problems, you wouldn't drive it until it's fixed. Like a car, our bodies are also a transport vehicle, whose co-operation we need to take us to more than just our sporting goals.

To close this week, here are some lyrics of a song sung by US country singer Kenny Rogers. Okay, so maybe he was talking about playing cards, but he might have been talking about running – or, as in this case, not running.

"You've gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, and know when to run".

Take care of your body. It is the only place you have to live.

Gerry Duffy is a motivational speaker and endurance athlete. www.gerryduffyonline.com

Irish Independent

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