Of Injury and Inquiry: The Value of Untraining

Earlier this week I came across an entry by a fellow blogger that has stuck with me ever since. It is the truthful yet beautiful description of completing a task while recalling the steps it took to get there. While I advocate the read, in a nutshell, one simple exercise of retrieving a notebook turned into a lengthy process as we are prone to, as Steph notes, meandering en route to our outcome.  

While the words resonated on a similar scale (sitting down to write this very article, for example), the piece drew a striking parallel with this year’s ultramarathon goals. Currently out on injury with no hint of when I’ll return to running, I see the kilometre targets scrawled in my weekly planner and have to remind myself to acknowledge, and then more importantly, to detach.

If training is the linear progression one seeks to achieve an outcome, then I am finding myself in the opposite thereof: breaking down each individual component so that I can begin to build them back up again. Numbers have since been replaced with questions; dynamic runs with static mental exercises; a monthly training schedule with a daily sense of inquiry.

I am in the act of untraining, one might even say: letting go of regiment, habits, and expectations so I can dig deeper into the fundamentals. Fundamentals that might set me back now, but will ultimately allow me to achieve an even greater outcome later.

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The part of Steph’s article I particularly enjoyed was in the use of the word meander, which in my mind, is to reach a destination while exploring an alternative path without judgment or negative connotation. It distinctly holds its own against others, like distract, in which one strays off course inadvertently, or navigate, in which one aims to stay on course with all of their might.

While sometimes the meander is intentional, in others, it is completely out of our control.

In an era of instant gratification, it can be easy to lose sight of the long-term goal. But in the end, does path or timing matter? If the outcome is to remain the same, why are we so hard on ourselves if we diverge from the straight and narrow?

And so, with the Squamish 50 as my target, I will attempt to embrace this injury as an opportunity go exploring. It is simply part of my path to becoming an ultrarunner, just like I am on other paths to becoming a writer, an adventurer, a friend, a Bobbi.

Let’s never stop exploring.

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7 thoughts on “Of Injury and Inquiry: The Value of Untraining

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  1. Thanks for the link! I really like how you took my idea and meandered off from it–that’s the point of it all, I suppose. Learning to appreciate the indirect when we are so trained to do it the other way.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve been thinking about your words all week!

      And I agree. I actually think ‘appreciate’ is a great way to put it, above ‘acknowledge’ and ‘accept.’ Our course from A to B is very rarely linear, so may as well embrace the process 🙂

      Thanks Steph!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post, Bobbi! It’s so hard to take off time for injury but also so important! A big lesson learned for me right now preggers…can’t do everything I want to do and just have to embrace where I am in this moment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jamie – and agreed!

      Funny how life throws us curveballs hey? But in a couple months (weeks!?) you’ll have a brand new adventure to embark on – and one I’m sure you’ll embrace every minute of!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely blog ! I look forward to reading more of your articles.

    I discovered untraining in 2018 – after completing my first 50 miler in November 2017 my body needed a total reset. I basically stopped running and focused on cross training and yoga. With the long winter this was easy to accomplish – I ran my first half marathon of the year a few days ago – and I can honestly say – the rest worked. I wasn’t incredibly fast (1:58) but I felt great and I held a great pace for 13.1 miles. And most importantly – I enjoyed myself!


    1. Thank you so much for stopping by!

      That’s an incredible story (and huge congrats on your first 50-miler!). I do believe every so often our bodies call for little breaks (and that sometimes they even know better than we do).

      It sounds like you’re off to a strong and fun season – I hope to read more about your experiences 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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