When my eyes slummed shut at 12.45AM, I knew that I would wake up in less than four hours, by 4AM. My body knew that the 4.30 morning run was mandatory. So I was not surprised when at 3.45 AM, my eyes flicked open. My phone was hiding beneath the white pillow next to me. After I found it, it informed me the time and I smiled, happy that I was truly the boss, able to tell my body what to do as opposed to the other way round. Alas, little did I know that my body would shortly be sending me a message that I would be inclined to disregard.
Don’t go for this run. These words were initially hazy. So I drank my cardamom tea, put on my socks, slipped into my long-sleeved running top, then into my Nike running shoes. Don’t go for this run. My left leg told me by way of a gentle throb. Nothing painful, just a dull feeling in my left ankle, as if I had been standing on that leg for a while. I descended the stairs, opened the gate and started walking briskly. The security guard with a permanent frowning face was on duty this morning, sitting by a bonfire with a man I didn’t recognize.
I ran briefly on the twenty-metre rough road outside our court’s main gate, just to taste the state of my body. Don’t go for this run, it insisted. I will go for this run, I responded. Today, I was planning to start running at the tarmac, but when I reached it after a brisk walk on a 100-meter rough road, I saw a police van ahead. Thankfully, police nowadays don’t ask any man they meet at such hours for a national identity card like they used to, back in President Moi’s days. But still, I decided to continue walking until that van passed. I turned right onto rhino road and was just about to begin running when I saw another police van ahead, plus two groups of people conversing in low tones. Again, I postponed the start of my run and walked briskly past the people and police van. I wonder what happened here. Did someone die?
I started running.
My footsteps became louder and faster as I slammed into the sandy tarmac. But I felt uneasy. Although my heart was in the run, my body wasn’t. Today, I was hoping to beat yesterday’s record of 7.1 mins/km. But my left leg was leading the rest of my body in a lingering protest at my decision to overrule its clear instructions earlier. So I stopped running but instead of taking a U-turn, I walked for a few meters and continued running. Stop! My body commanded. I finally turned back. It was 4.47AM.
We must learn to listen to our bodies. Although there are times when self-control requires that we overrule the body’s voice, there are also times when we must listen to that voice.