March 19th, 2012
04:49 PM ET

Letter to the President #1155: 'Stepping back to move forward'

Reporter's Note: Each day I write to President Obama with no expectation that he will ever write back. So far, that has been a pretty solid assumption.

Dear Mr. President,

I trust your St. Patrick’s Day festivities were fun. We had a magnificent platter of corned beef that simmered on the stove most of the morning, mounded up with boiled carrots, and some broccoli. I realize that the absence of cabbage constitutes a sacrilege for some, but my wife and I actually have enough Irish in our veins to tell any critics…well, I won’t say here, but trust me it fits our heritage.

What I did not do this weekend is go for any long runs. Not one! This is the first weekend in some while that this has been the case. I took one short jaunt with my younger daughter, perhaps a couple of miles, and we had a lovely visit. That, however, was the extent of my training even though I have some big races coming up in just a few weeks.

Why did I slack off? While I don’t think I have any reason to fear overtraining, sometimes I find it is good to give my legs a break, and this weekend seemed to be the right time. I’ve been stumbling a bit more than I’d expect on the tougher parts of my trails through the woods, and it seems as if the fundamental reason is just fatigue. I’m not lifting my feet quite high enough, especially in the later sections, to clear all those little rocks and roots. What’s worse, when I catch a toe on a stump or boulder I don’t have enough fast twitch reaction to catch myself before falling. My muscles don’t seem to be relaxing much afterward either, even when I’m just sitting around. That can’t be good.

So I’m concentrating right now on not pushing myself.

This is a big challenge. As you know, I’m a huge proponent of the exact opposite; of people striving hard and then harder against all obstacles. But I have learned that strategic retreats are sometimes the best course of action. Oh sure, I’ll be back on my regular running courses in a day or two… but for now, I’m focusing on stretching, relaxing, and making sure that the next time I run, I can give it my best.

All of which is a long way of saying that this would be an excellent time for you and I to talk. I’m sure you’ve been just as frustrated as I am at our inability to connect, so give me a buzz in the next 30 hours or so if you have a moment. We can talk about some of those college basketball meltdowns over the weekend. Was that wild or what?


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