Non-Reckless Behavior

Little in arts and film is idealized, glorified or downright romanticized more than the act of sheer recklessness.

Forgoing your dream job to drive from Boston to California to see about a girl? Romantic. Flinging yourself back into the RMS Titanic from the safety of your lifeboat in order to spend one steamy evening with Leonardo? Glamorous. Stealing your honorable but frail father’s conscription notice, dressing as a man and running away to join the army, where you save both your family’s honor and all of China and win your commander’s heart to boot? Impractical, reckless and arguably the plot of the best animated feature film produced by Disney to date.

But while recklessness is a crucial plot point in most Hollywood blockbusters (why yes, in fact, I do classify Mulan as a Hollywood blockbuster), there’s at least one arena where it doesn’t have a place: marathon training.

I realize to an outsider, the act of running a marathon appears quite reckless at face value. Putting your body through 16 weeks of aggressive strain and inevitable muscle tear so you can run at full force for four straight hours come game day? I see how that could come off as negligent and careless. But in fact, marathon training is quite the opposite. If you’re doing it right, everything is carefully calculated – the length of your long runs, the effort of your speed work, your running strategy come race day – and that process of constant calibration in fact leaves very little up to chance besides the weather on Marathon Sunday itself. Running, if done in a thoughtful way, is anything but reckless.

But while most runners I know are very thoughtful in their training itself, I find that that restraint is often willfully abandoned in the wake of an injury. Tell a runner she needs to trek 16 miles on Saturday and she’ll be there will bells on; tell her she needs to skip the trails for a week in order to recover from glute pain and she’ll fight you tooth and (blackened toe-) nail.

So believe me when I say that it was with great difficulty that I took this past week off running altogether as I attempt to will my aching knee back into submission. Despite a week of glorious running weather, I took full rest days on Thursday through Sunday, then swam Monday, biked Tuesday and elipticized Wednesday while my lonely Asics watched me from my closet. Feeling stronger, I suited up and went for an easy, slow 3-mile jog Thursday morning and – what do you know? – it felt downright fine. I’m sure it’s too early to say I’ve healed myself completely, but at least my week of non-reckless recovery appears to have somewhat paid off.

And that’s not the only non-reckless behavior that’s paid off for me this week. After six hours in the pouring rain at outdoor music festival Governor’s Ball on Friday night, the fields had transformed into eight inches of solid, non-traversable mud and my concert date and I decided to make the adult decision and skip out on the headliner, Kings of Leon, and make our way back to Manhattan before tropical storm Andrea washed us away completely.

Thar' she blows!
Thar’ she blows!

It wasn’t the fun decision or the spontaneous decision or the reckless decision, but it was the one we made — and it turned out to be the right one: Kings of Leon also bailed. Well played, sirs.

What non-reckless decisions have you been making recently? Kings of Leon, this one’s for you.


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