Square One And The Art Of Hyperextension

On October 26, 2010, in Injury, Running, Work, by Meghan

While sorting papers, I came across an old letter of recommendation from an undergraduate professor. I worked with him a lot during those years, and he knew me well. To paraphrase him, “Meghan’s pretty smart, though she has a work ethic that exceeds her intelligence.” Turns out, we would need little reintroduction these days, as I’m pretty much the same.

Fairly fast I become carried away. Excitement and momentum build when something new, shiny, or, -God bless anyone who gets in my way when this stuff turns up.- adventurous enters my radar screen. With singular focus and fierce determination, I launch new-found endeavors towards reach-y goals.

Problem is, and as my professor refrained from saying, I’m mostly too dumb to realize that the framework of my existence cannot always sustain said endeavors. Or, in other cases, I fail to recognize the importance of first building a wide, hardy framework before launching out into some exotic extreme. This is to say that I am an expert in the art of hyperextension.

I’m getting older and, thus, marginally wiser. This go-round, after over-extending myself into not just one, but two pieces of life, I’ve now managed a return to square one. My arrival here was not without enough kicking and screaming to challenge any child of the terrible twos, though. Now that I’ve survived the crisis-ing, I’m getting down to the good business of taking care of myself.

“The birds are molting.ย  If only man could molt also – his mind once a year its errors, his heart once a year its useless passions.” (James Allen)

I hyperextended myself into my former employment, as that job and its logistical requirements consumed the majority of my days. Whether you love your job with a great, big heart like I did, or not, so much more exists beyond work: tannic wines to let loll on tongues, deck railings for propping feet, sunsets that warm hearts for days, smart conversations with friends, cuddlefests with the one you love, and more trail miles than even an imagination can fathom. The fineries gone; my life was work.

As well, I hyperextended myself into running. It began two years ago, while training for my first go at the Marathon des Sables. Strapped for time (because of the aforementioned work situation) and feeling pressure to get in good mileage, I stopped the lifting of weights, the core exercises, the dynamic stretching, theย  plyometrics, the stuff that is your framework as a runner. I survived in this state of over-extension for a while, pulling off a great race while I was way out there, even. But I also lapsed into injury. And, big injury after little injury, after little injury, after little injury is where I have resided ever since.

I long to be as fundamentally sound as the granite of Half Dome (July, 2010).

My 32nd birthday in August was a pivotal day for the previous version of myself. This was the day that I opened my ears to what people were trying to tell me, or trying not to tell me in a few cases, about what was amiss in my world. It was the day I finally decided to employ the courage I mustered at this year’s Marathon des Sables for the purpose of becoming a better person. On my birthday, I began the very hard work of retracting back to square one.

For me, this meant several things. Quitting my job was, simply, the only way out of my professional hyperextension. The details are unneeded here, but I was powerless to effect change in any other way. As for running, I would ease back, way back, on that, too. My body needed time to, first, heal and, second, grow strong from the inside out. And now, after making these bold choices, I couldn’t be happier.

Imperfect starts, sputters, and temporary stops are part and parcel to this process as I’m, on the spot, learning a new way of being. For instance, I’m right now nursing a tweaked quadriceps muscle because I decided to take a yoga asana one step beyond my ability.

Square one is a cool place. I get to look out into the world and decide: what do I want to be? In most ways, I already know. In others, not knowing is part of the fun. Along the way, though, I sure hope I’ll remember the wise words in that old letter of recommendation.

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21 Responses to “Square One And The Art Of Hyperextension”

  1. Keith says:

    Can I borrow a cup of ‘strenght’ and ‘smarts’ to help stir up a few changes myself?

  2. Ewa says:

    From my own 50+ year old perspective we do get wiser as we get older. We learn WHAT we are supposed to do, we even learn HOW we are supposed to do it. That knowledge rarely translates into practice though.
    I call it theoretical wisdom.

    • Meghan says:

      Ewa, gosh, you hit the nail on my big, fat head. Yes, we begin to gather all this smartness, but nobody and nothing can make us apply all that wise-ness. We have to consciously pick that stuff out of our brain and use it. Thank you for your insight!

  3. Danni says:

    You’re one of the smartest chicas ever. And I admire the control you are taking over your world. Life is too short.

  4. JeffO says:

    Love the quote – I could use some molting. Like maybe a dozen, just to catch up with myself.
    I’m with Ewa… I’m more than half a century old, and I see things better. But I still jump headlong into the mud. I knew I was going to get injured, but even looking back, I can’t say I regret. Doing it the exact same way again, would be stupid. Next time, I hope to destroy myself in a NEW, adventurous way!

  5. SteveQ says:

    We must be cut from the same cloth. Looking back, I wonder how I could’ve thought running a 100-miler with broken bones was a good idea, or why I ran 5 ultras in 6 weeks – everyone else saw that I was trying to do too much with too little prep. It did make for entertaining race reports for others, I guess.

  6. Olga says:

    I like the “theoretical wisdom” coin:) My son wrote me a letter last week (the older one, from prison, if I may add) that life is a journey in finding yourself with falling into little nooks every so often and figuring the way out. In Russia, we also say if I knew where I fall, I’d put hay down. I am a deacde on you, and very much “theoretically wise”. I can write books on what to do – or not to do, anywhere from life living, children raising to running. Do I do it myself? Ha! Only after I fall into that hole without a hay:) Chin up, sista!

    • Meghan says:

      That Ewa is smart, isn’t she?! ๐Ÿ™‚ I like the Russian hay saying. Suffice it to say, my chin was way down before. But now it’s waaaaaaaay up! Thanks, girl and hugs to you!

  7. Paige T. says:

    Mmmm, this post makes me feel all whimsical and hopeful for some reason ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve been looking for my ‘square one’ for a bit, and I think I’m getting closer to it. PC is going to love having you guys there!

  8. keith says:

    Found a Cup…Found a Cup! Now…courage to drink the stuff….

    Love You and Your Thought provoking Posts!

  9. Leslie says:

    Then I must be a master of Hypo-extension. I “under” extend myself in work and in life. I’m on a Path of Least Resistance. While I like to challenge myself in other ways, this woman is not going to die of stress. :0

  10. Meghan says:

    This is true, Leslie. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  11. Laura says:

    I see you found the smiley faces! Here’s to moving forward while forever peeking backward!

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