Careless – A Lesson Learned


Have you ever stopped for a moment to appreciate all that your body is and does? I don’t mean at times of sickness or when an accident causes restriction of its full function; I am talking about really seeing the body you occupy and marveling at the miracle it is. Well, if you haven’t, this is the time to do so, this very moment. First, take the time to see how amazing your body is in its design and function and, second, assess the role you have or have not accepted as its caretaker. You are either cringing in guilt at this moment or patting yourself on the back for all of your hard work. The truth of the matter is too few of us evaluate our actions, our responsibilities we have taken as that caretaker. Some people actually believe that the responsibility lies with others, that blame should be placed elsewhere for their current condition. Yes, some of you may be justified to wallow in the sorrow of circumstance, but even if you are justified, don’t you deserve more? I believe we all can take tally of our responsibility to self and do just a little better because, ultimately, it is our choice as to how high we climb.

Yesterday I had a reality check. Waking up early I readied myself for a run. It had been quite sometime since I’d been on the trail due to more procedures I’ve recently gone though. Regardless, this was the day I designated to step back into a life of movement and become responsible to myself. Attempting to beat the heat of the day, I rushed out the door with tunes in my ears and cell phone in hand only to be greeted by the rush of what I would describe to be the heat that blasts out of an oven when you first open the door. Man, was it warm, and it was only 8:30 a.m. As I climbed the hill into the park, I thought of how I shouldn’t have ignored the alarm clock at 7:00 and that this was my punishment for being a little lazy. Once I crested the hill and ventured on the downhill section of my run, it didn’t feel so bad. It wasn’t until I started to climb again ten minutes later that I began to feel a bit of regret. I didn’t know how hot it was; all I knew was that I did not like it. What I did start to realize was how unprepared I was in my decision to not hydrate beforehand and in leaving my water bottle behind. If I was one to justify my choices, I’d say that I’ve done this run more times than I can count without bringing water. As Forest Gump would say, “Stupid is as stupid does.”

It wasn’t until my pace started to slow down drastically and I found myself walking (and struggling in doing so) that I realized dehydration was a definite and heat exhaustion a possibility. Could I have been so unaware and careless that I put my body in danger? The answer was “Definitely yes!” It was at this point that I watched for some of the real danger signs that can come with heat exhaustion, such as being overheated yet having the chills and no longer being able to sweat. I was fortunate enough to find a water spigot before I got to this point. Splashing the lukewarm water on my back and neck was enough to help me feel revived and alive again, and once I guzzled an ample amount I headed back on my uphill route.

Later on that day I would discover that it was the hottest day ever recorded in Southern California. In Los Angeles the mercury topped out at 113 degrees, beating the old record two decades earlier of 112. As I was driving home later on in the afternoon, I saw my car temperature gauge hit 114 degrees. I figured the temperature was in the high 90s when I was out running. This may not seem very hot to people who live in regions that deal with tremendous heat for part of their year, but being acclimatized to coastal temperatures we rarely see anything above a hundred. However, I recall doing a canyon road ride with my friend Laura years ago where the temperature gauge topped out at 107 degrees. In the twenty years I’ve lived here this was the hottest I recall. We constantly hydrated with ice water and were grateful to have managed so well. Those were the days we were doing adventure racing and had to deal with many extremes in the races, so to us this was just another way to toughen-the-steel of our abilities. I guess I’ve had a tougher than steel mentality for a long time, not to be confused with careless decisions. This is not how I will choose to walk my path in the future, however. I may think I know my limits and abilities, but carelessness should never be a factor that’s ever allowed into a routine. Will you see me out running or riding on hot days? Quite possibly yes, but you’ll also see me carrying a 120-ounce hydration pack filled with ice water. After all, part of the responsibility to self is choosing to continue on even when it is difficult to do so.

In Other’s Words:

If you think taking care of yourself is selfish, change your mind.

If you don’t, you’re simply ducking your responsibilities.“

~Ann Richards~

1 Comment

  1. Jacke Van Woerkom

    You should’ve called me to go run with you….xoxo

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