Kick ass while you’re hurt

Injured? Congratulations! You’re following advice from pro runner Kyle Merber:

Your coach will hate me for this debatably terrible advice I am about to give, but if he heard me out fully, then maybe he’d only respectfully disagree: I think you should get hurt.

Read the full post – he has a really great blog – here.

He’s right though. I agree that a performance breakthrough frequently comes on the heels of some sort of break in training.

You’re good at running? Now get good at being hurt.

I try to schedule a couple of two week training breaks throughout the year, usually one in the summer, and one over the winter holidays following cross country club nationals. This year I didn’t take the summer break, and I think that really came back to haunt me in the fall. But boy, did I take advantage of this last break. I really needed it, not only to rest an injury, but mentally as well.

When I take a break, I REALLY take a break. Instead of cross training, I head to the kitchen.

In The Sweet Kitchen Almond and Dried Bing Cherry Braid

Almond and Dried Bing Cherry Braid

This is a great recipe from In The Sweet Kitchen by Regan Daley, the IACP cookbook of the year in 2001. This is one of my favorite pastry cookbooks of all-time, and if you’re going to invest shelf space and money in a cookbook, this is a good one. The recipes are well-written, easy to follow, and most importantly, they work. I have yet to have a disappointing result, and this bread was no different. It’s like a challah loaf stuffed with kirsch and amaretto-laced almond paste. I hadn’t thought it possible to improve upon the eggy goodness of a quality loaf of challah, but I was wrong.

For Christmas Eve, I tried to kick it up a notch. Having a quiet holiday at home, I had visions of a cozy day of baking with my kids: them, rapt with interest watching me perform feats of pastry-making as I assembled a tower of pâte-a-choux reaching for the sky. Instead, they had their faces in books all day and probably would have been just as happy if I threw a stack of Oreos on a plate.

Christmas Croquembouche

Christmas Croquembouche

How many things are just wasted on the young?

Thanks to a teammate, I discovered homemade Christmas ornaments.

Modular Christmas Star Origami Ornament

If you like origami, these are really fun to make. Check out the youtube video here. All you need is one of those block cubes of notepaper and some ribbon. The bell/ribbon I added inside came from Oriental Trading and made a fun stocking stuffer for the kids. As it turns out, needing to fold 30 units of paper before assembling the star is a little more delayed gratification than my children are willing to handle. So, I hijacked the project. No use wasting a perfectly good craft on them too.

I say this all with a bit of a caveat. This break was easy and enjoyable because I have exactly NO races on the calendar. And because I’m (hopefully) on the upswing and back to running again little by little. But it’s part of the deal. If you run competitively you’re going to get hurt. Might as well learn to get good at this part too.

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