T-Day / Break

The reason I’m writing this from in here is because I’m not running out there (nods towards the window). I’m not running because I’m taking a break…today. Just today. Because I need it. Actually, because my leg needs it. As my mileage and workout intensity has been increasing, I’ve noticed some “trends”, as my coach says, in my leg pain. Specific pains in specific areas of my leg have been showing themselves again, sometimes only in the morning and other times later in the day. There isn’t much rhyme or reason as to why it’s happening, but it is, and I need to pay attention to “the signs”. This is all known as good runner advice, of which we often NEVER listen to. We’re always told to back off when issues start to arise, but we never do, letting mind take over matter and hoping for the best. The obsession is just too powerful.

Right now though, I’m feeling pretty confident in my upwards trajectory and am not that concerned with taking a day off to let some things heal up as necessary. I actually feel somewhat ridiculous even saying that, as if I should EVER be concerned with taking a day off. Like, OMG, a DAY. As if my muscles are going to dry up and fall of the bone or my lungs are going to explode like a popped balloon. What will probably happen is the stress of repetition will subside for a day and my legs and lungs will breathe a sigh of relief, rebuild themselves and prepare for the next pain-free run. Ok, that’s what I’m telling myself anyways. Regardless, it’s ok to take a break every once in awhile, and yes, sometimes it takes a verbal affirmation to make that a reality.

Speaking of breaks, today starts the T-day (thanksgiving, no thanksgiving, etc. etc.) break at the school where I work, giving me a full week of free-time to pursue running on my own schedule, add in a sufficient dose of strengthening and, well , get ready for T-day festivities. As a runner, this means something. As a vegan runner, it means something even MORE.

Runners have sort of adopted Thanksgiving as their own, which I’m guessing stems from our inherent weight management program through getting out and putting in the miles every day. We love to take every opportunity to rub it in that we can eat whatever we want (within reason) whenever we want (again within reason) and not have to worry about weight gain. So while everyone else is pre-starving themselves for a big dinner or signing up for a gym membership in anticipation of stupidly absurd weight gain, we’re just going about our days, running T-day themed races, doing our thing and not at all dreading the desserts and extra food coming our way. Despite not taking part in the traditional foods of Thanksgiving, I’m no exception.

With that in mind, Thanksgiving is also one of my least favorite holidays. I’ll ignore the issue with colonialist origins and focus on the expected, which is the ritual of eating turkeys. Granted, people eat animals every day, but the turkey is such a fundamental icon of Thanksgiving that focusing on eating them specifically  reeks of an even greater disconnect between the cause and effect of animal agriculture. It’s one thing when people talk about eating a meat substance that looks nothing like the individual it once was, but it’s something entirely different when they depict it as the creature it is and still kill and eat it without any consideration as to it’s sentient life. Our culture sells cutesy imagery of smiling, dumb turkeys, feather motifs and any other number of surprisingly realistic depictions of turkeys as living creatures, just before ceremoniously cutting their bodies up at the dinner table. And somehow, it’s all an amusing, quaint ritual that gets smothered in the ideals of giving thanks and sharing with family and friends.

I guess I have more tolerance for the daily onslaught of killing when the naivety of eating a substance instead of animal is more present, but when the turkey is and obviously WAS a turkey, I find myself both less forgiving and more affected by the blatant disregard for the animal’s tortured existence up to that point. But hey, don’t worry, the president pardon’s one every year and that appeasement makes up for everything else, right?

On the other hand, being vegan has transformed the Thanksgiving holiday into something else entirely, something far more positive and rewarding than the other rituals I would participate in with my family awhile ago. As the ritual dinner is so central to Thanksgiving, we, as vegans, find ourselves creating a necessary alternative, and in a way upping the ante. The vegan pitch-ins I have been a part of during Thanksgiving have always been far superior to the turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry offerings of traditional gatherings. Oh no, Thanksgiving is sort of our turn to shine and gloat (just like the runners), because it’s an excuse to bring our culinary A-game, whether that is to wow our carnivorous families or just share amongst friends.

And for us, we don’t rely on the boring central component to the traditional meal (the turkey), but prefer to fill our tables with MULTIPLE main courses. We’ll bring side dishes as supplements for sure, but most of the time we’re setting the table with all kinds of foods, relying on our diverse set of ingredients that aren’t confined to the American staples. No, we go all out, and only rarely offer simple alternatives to turkey (tofurky) and the other norms. We do it RIGHT.

So yeah, couple veganism AND running, and…well…I’m golden. I get to eat guilt-free meals because I’m not subjecting a sentient creature to a tortured existence before it’s premature death, and I get to eat guilt-free meals because I don’t have to worry about unhealthy weight gain fostered by a life of passivity.

Here’s the best part….you can do the same. Go vegan and get active.

Sorry to leave this on a downer…but truth trumps all.

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One response to “T-Day / Break

  1. I struggle with this as well. I have recently ramped up my weekly mileage. In the past I have taken one day off a week from running but have noticed that I feel like I need to run the same longer distance every day despite my body telling me otherwise. I too have been dealing with an injury- swelling of my right ankle. It is amazing how we can be so incredibly cruel to ourselves! I once read a book called, ” stop being mean to yourself”/ while it wasn’t about running, I use this title to remind myself to be kind to my body. We as runners ask it to do a lot!!

    Ditto on the vegan thanksgiving and ill think about you on my Turkey Day run which I know we will both do before the feasting begins!

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