Jo Meacham writes about her deployment.
Fridays and Sundays are low ops tempo days, which means we only work 8 to 10 hours.
These are the days that I hope to get in a long run. Friday morning, I had every hope of
getting an 8 miler in. During the first lap, my legs felt like lead. Every fiber in my legs
was screaming to my brain “give it up and go back to bed”. Since I’m not the give it up
kind of girl, I stopped, stretched and shook my legs at the end of the lap and kept going.
As I ran, I started thinking through the probable causes of this fatigue/pain. I had to
wear my 40 lbs of battle rattle three times this week, I even exercised in it. I didn’t drink
enough water the day before. I’m not getting enough sleep. And the list goes on. With
those probable causes, I gave myself permission to stop, stretch and shake at the end of
the second, third and fourth laps. If I were a novice runner, I would have bagged the run
These are the kind of runs that make you hate running, and for a lot of people, it will
prevent them from becoming a runner. Instead of enjoying the music and the scenery,
you are thinking about running…about how your legs feel, about how tight (or loose)
your shoes are, about your heart rate, about your pace and about your pain. All this
feedback from your body to your brain is one of nature’s ways to protect you from
injury. However, I battled it out and completed 9 laps, for about 6.3 miles. The last 5
laps were enjoyable and that was the reward for battling it out.
How does one know when it is your body’s basic instinct meant to protect you from
injury versus it is ok to battle through? I don’t really know for sure, but this is what I
think. We have certain basic instincts that drive our actions, but we also have freedom to
choose to control those instincts. We don’t have to react immediately (or at all) to what
our instincts and urges tell us to do. We have the ability to think through a litany of
information that lives in our brain—our education and training, our past history, our
goals and desires and the like. For me, this information told me that my stride is still
good; that I’d felt this before and actually lived; and that if I don’t keep going, I’ll be a
bitch today. So, with the power of positive thinking, I battled through.
To steal a line from Steven Covey, a habit is the intersection of knowledge, skills and
desire. I suppose that this means that running is a habit for me, but I also think of it as a
simple example of self mastery, which is control over ones desires and actions. This is a
basic human freedom that we are endowed with, and it is easy to squander. If you don’t
use it, you lose it and the power of the brain to rationalize excuses is enormous, and it is
My thoughts about the Taliban are this: They are scared of their own basic instincts, and
attempt to control or regulate them through law, rather than through self control. Their
treatment of woman is such that if they can make her go away or be invisible, they do
not have to deal with their instinctual desires for her. When they do have to deal with
women, such as their wives, they rationalize that their own bad behavior is her fault
because she was the temptation. It is a shame that they have ultimate control over their
women, but do not have basic control over their own actions.
Back to enjoying the scenery during a run…not so enjoyable here at New Kabul
Compound. However, we can smell the lilacs that are blooming behind our big ass T-
walls. It gets you breathing deep, until you get to the port a johns.
My running buddies probably already know this, but most of my updates are written in
my head during a run. This one was written during those last 5 laps.