Today My Body Told Me I’m An Idiot

Elaine Gilmartin
5 min readApr 24, 2022

And I Had to Agree

by Elaine Gilmartin

Kindel Media

I got lazy. I know the value of stretching and yet as soon as I would get home from my runs, I would do a cursory calf stretch, touch my toes, and then go to feed the dogs and start my day.

So just before mile eight this morning, I looked over my shoulder to cross the street and felt a twinge in my calf. I slowed my pace for the next two miles but knew the damage was done.

I promised my body two years ago at this time when I had an Achilles strain, I would baby my muscles. I would hold each post-run stretch for a full minute, having learned from a personal trainer that it takes thirty seconds for the brain to get the signal to relax a muscle. Since anything less than a minute has little effect, my fledgling twenty-second stretches did squat. All because I thought I could cut corners and get away with it.

But not today and I can only blame myself. Now I will likely lose a week or two of running and just when the weather is turning so beautiful.

A Brain at War with Itself is a Losing Proposition

It seems like there is a chasm between what we know we should do versus what we actually do. We acknowledge that eating vegetables and drinking water is better for our health than eating fast food and drinking soda and yet will still make that choice. Until there is a consequence, and maybe not even then.

Our minds are quite powerful at rationalizing the shortcuts we take or the bad decisions we make. Those choices may satisfy our immediate impulses, but when we are left with guilt or shame or regret, it is counterproductive to our sense of self, not to mention the physical toll.

A running friend of mine ran two marathons just sub three hours. He followed the guides, was well-trained and prepared for those two races. Marathon number three, however, he figured he was in good shape, bypassed a few long training runs, but still felt confident at the start of the Marine Corps Marathon in D.C.

Home that evening, he called to tell me his time, a disappointing half hour more than he had anticipated. His detailed description of the pain he endured those last few miles, his muscles locking up, collapsing around mile…

Elaine Gilmartin

A therapist by profession, a runner by passion, a writer by necessity.