“The Hay is in the Barn”

Posted: October 15, 2012 in cast iron strength

What’s an investment worth to you?

If we’re talking about a financial investment, we invest our money into something and we have the expectation of a financial gain.  But with regard to a time or talent investment where we invest our energy into something, we still have an expectation of achieving something… but what is it worth?  When we train for a race, how much is that investment of sweat and dedication worth to us?

To what limits are we willing to go to in order to ensure payoff?

I had not even thought about “my investment” of time spent training when I was injured.  My heels, ankles and calves were sprained and swollen, and the only thing on my mind was how painful it would be to run 12 miles and 26 obstacles.  I was considering bailing on my Tough Mudder team.

Then I got a phone call from my good friend (we’ll call her F.D.) and she offered this advice:

“The hay is in the barn, my friend.”

“What does that even mean?”  I asked.

“You’ve got this.” she said.  “You’ve invested the time.  You can do this.”

I later found out that this expression is commonly used by athletes (runners) when they have completed many weeks/months of training leading up to an event, and they are in the final days before the event when they should be tapering down and resting.

Here’s a little blog post about just that: http://runforyourlife-yassine.blogspot.com/2010/05/hay-is-in-barn.html

Anyway, F.D. was right.  If I bailed now, my investment would not offer a profitable return.  I had to consider the months spent training and the hours I devoted to getting in shape for this race.  (not to mention the six or seven weeks I was on the Paleo diet this summer and stopped drinking wine, beer and cocktails!)  All for what??  To sit at home?  …and mope?  No way.

I will be forever grateful to F.D., T and Miss M., for both reminding me of the importance of my investment… and for their devotion.  They bought spectator tickets to the Tough Mudder and were showing up, come rain or come shine.

But at that moment when she said “the hay is in the barn”, it all clicked for me.  I’m not even sure I could tell you why, but for some reason I finally realized that I had earned my rest.  I had put in the time, and gained the strength, gotten down to my fighting weight, and I was ready.  So even if I didn’t do a damn thing in the days leading up to the race, rest wouldn’t hurt me.  I think sometimes we train so hard, for so long, that we forget that we need to taper down before a race.  I’d been so used to knocking out kettlebells everyday, that the thought of “resting” for a week sounded crazy.

But sometimes our body forces us to rest by way of an injury.  Maybe it’s the body’s way of getting us to slow down and take it easy.  But my Achilles were strained, I had swelling in both ankles, my claves had charley-horses in them… and I could not run even a quarter-mile.  Things were dire. (and this was only 5 days before the Tough Mudder.)  This was more than just a “rest period” or me knowing when to taper off…. this had to be a super-fast healing period too.  How do you tell your body to do that?

Here’s what I did: I took the time to get professional advice from two sports medicine doctors who specialize in overuse and acute injuries.  I did acupuncture, cupping, soft tissue release and massage, epsom salt baths, arnica oil rubs, Kinesio taping… you name it…  I did it all in an effort to get back out there.  Was it the easy road?  No.  But I was trying to cash in on my investment.

In my previous post, I rambled on about how you’ve got to tell your body what you expect from it… but this is the other part.  Work.

About a week before the race, I met F.D. downtown and we walked (limped) over to my favorite coffee shop on 2nd and Stewart.  I lamented about the pain.  Then we walked over to my favorite bakery on 4th and Lenora and she bought me two peanut butter cookies.  (Now, let me digress for a moment, because this is an important part of my story.  These are not just your ordinary peanut butter cookies.  No, no… these are the BEST peanut butter cookies in the whole world!  This little bakery takes two of their homemade chunky peanut butter cookies and adds a smear of peanut butter between the cookies, then they press them together to make a little sandwich that is quite simply: Heaven!)  F.D. bought two of these cookies for me, put them in a bag, and simply said: “Eat these after the race.”

“Oh, you bet I will!”  (but then I figured since I had two, I could eat one before the race and one after… it made sense to me… after all, the hay WAS in the barn, and a peanut butter cookie this special would do wonders for my sprained ankles and Achilles tendons.)

Moral of the story?  We need to remember our committment, our investment, and honor that by doing what it takes to follow through and compete.  It takes work… but this is your investment after all… are you just going to throw it all away the minute a little pain surfaces?  No!  Figure out the pain… seek professional advice and get back out there!

We also need good friends around us who truly understand us and the things that motivate us.  (Who knew what a little peanut butter cookie could do?)  But seriously, more than that, a friend’s dedication to your success is a powerful thing.  When you have people in your corner, rooting for you… there is no stopping you!

The sisterhood may not be dead… although I am always a bit cautious… but when we find someone (or several someones) who understand us… this will charge us up!   People who understand what it means to put the time into something… and how important it is to accomplish what we have our hearts set on… that’s power!  Surround yourself with support, cut those with envy or unkind words out, and you cannot fail.

Be well,

Peace Out,

  1. Thank you for this post. xox

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