I actually enjoy stretching in the morning, of course, extending my arms as high as I can and yawning and shaking my shoulders and going back to my coffee.
I hate the stretching that my physical therapist told me I should do twice a day. There is no measure for stretching. Or better, no measure of output, of success. No miles, no sweat, no points, no altitude climbed. Most people don’t post on Instagram, “Look! I stretched for 30 seconds on each side 5 times!”
There is no reward, no praise, no sense of “I could never do that.”
Which may account for why my running mileage dropped to zero for ten days.
No stretching, no rest, no balance, and your knee ends up with more that the usual arthritis pain. It ends up with the exact pain that took you to the physical therapist the year before. And the exact same results. My knee locked with a stabbing pain at inopportune moments. When Nancy and I walked at our usual pace, it seemed like Nancy was trying to run. (She wasn’t.)
So I went back to the photocopied page of stretching that I received last year. It was buried in a stack of miscellaneous things I know I need to do.
After the first two days of stretching, the acute pain was gone. Walking was possible, although my knee still locked up while walking down the aisle after taking part in a wedding. After another day of stretching, I stopped crying out in pain at random moments.
After ten days I ran two comparatively-slow miles. But I ran. And I stretched.
Here’s the thing. The stretching that helps me is simple. It takes 10 minutes, maybe. It doesn’t hurt. But I have to choose to be unproductive to do the preparation that will help with productivity.
Here’s the thing. I can’t remember what I haven’t learned. I can’t perform what I haven’t practiced. I can’t be still if I haven’t learned to still myself. I can’t teach if I haven’t learned.
I can, of course, pontificate and opine and judge and condemn without knowing much of anything.
But endurance comes from preparation. I want to run all the way to the end. I need to stretch so I can.
My own parable, perhaps, following two from Jesus.