/ blog

Strava rehab

My bloody knee on the left, the trail on the right

I ate shit on the trail today. Nothing dramatic. I was spacing out, tripped, and fell. My knee met a rock. Everyone who enjoys running experiences this.

As I sat on the side of the trail looking at the little trail of blood dry I had a brief moment of clarity. Body and mind fused to give me a little flashback.

In 2017 I ran the SF marathon (sorry for bragging). My amateur preparation consisted of as much running as possible. No structure, no rest day, no control - just Strava. No change in nutritional habits or sleep: same with more running. I could do that. I have long legs. I'm built for this stuff. My inclination to masochism mixed with some socially acceptable alpha-yet-stoically-humble made me a perfect fit for the "runner" persona.

I kept running. Mostly because it's easy to get out and "exercise". I stayed hooked on Strava. The gamification got me and built a digital ego. I noticed it first while reviewing my yearly stats. A gross humble bragging feeling crept in. My wife mocked me countless times for being too keen on my run/ride title game. Some would say that I was just "having fun" with it others would note that cardio is far from being a bad addiction.

The core dilemma for me lies in the concept of health vs. performance. Fitness apps excel at motivating performance, but they overshadow the importance of listening to the body. Reducing health to statistics has been a dangerous game that continually led me to some mental or emotional trouble... for what? The illusion of a longer life? Even if it extends life, who wants to be checking their step count every day at age 80? If I'm still there, I hope to have better things to contemplate.

A week after the birth of my first kid I was finally going out for a run on the local trail. The lack of sleep and emotional load made for a trippy run -Recorded on Strava. I had a blast. I looked at the summary screen for a long while. The distraction and vanity the app was feeding are obviously not compatible with the image I have of a functional human, let alone a good dad. That day, I deleted my account after 5+ years.

Surely one can have a few vanities, as long as they are controlled or justified. When it comes to indulging, I aspire to more meaningful things than a little badge. I'll spare myself the nagging feeling of checking another feed, sending kudos (what a lame interaction), or white-lying about why I want to go for a run. I'll run go because I feel like it.

In some ways today’s bump was pathetic and could mean “poor” running performance: I was slow, on familiar, non-technical terrain. But that is the running I want to do: an escape.

As I remember how absurd this whole Strava thing has been, I thought about the title I would have given this run. Nothing came to mind.

Rehab, completed.

← Index / Published on 2024-06-15