Thursday, November 8, 2012

on running

Today I thought I would talk a little bit about running. Do you like to run?

It seems like everyone has a different stance on it:

“I love running.”
(More often) “I hate running.”
“I would like to call myself a runner, but I am not that good at it.”
“I am better at long distances.”
“I am really more of a sprinter.”
And (worst of all) “Running is no big deal to me.”

I have a so-so relationship with running. Awhile back, my sisters decided (without my input, let me add) that we were going to train for an iron man triathlon, and that I would be responsible for the marathon. Thanks girls. Somehow, I think (and believe me, I am not tooting my own horn here) that I got the wrap as the sister that is the best at running long distances.

The truth is I have had some glorious running moments. There was that time that I won a running contest with my fractured heel clad in a fluorescent green walking cast. There was the time a bunch of family members decided to run up and down the long farm lane at my Aunt Shelley’s house and I got back the fastest because I was 1)cold 2)hungry and 3)a little afraid that I was being chased by a coyote. There was the time that I was punished at field hockey practice for being ten minutes late (because I was at marching band practice) and my coach made me run suicides AND barred me from playing in my last game of the season. I ran them in the blink of an eye and then looked at her as if to say “WHAT?! That’s all you got bi-otch?”

But sadly, if you look at those situations there was some impetus that was making me great: competition, food, anger, fear. On a typical day, none of those things are in play and instead it is just one thought that comes between me and my great running: “I do not want to be running right now.”

A few years back I was struggling with this problem, along with some general nervousness and anxiety. I knew that exercise was supposed to be good for the latter, but running was proving difficult because I couldn't seem to outrun my worries or the thought that, gosh, I just did not want to be running. In fact, the combination of the two was so intense that I ended up literally blasting Eminem through my headphones as I forced myself to run one or two miles just so that I could say I had exercised.

Then one day, I heard something that made me stop and think. Have you seen the movie Bride Wars with Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson? Well, there is a line in that movie where Anne Hathaway says to Kate Hudson, "We can't run with iPods because iPods are for people who can't be alone with their own thoughts." I remember thinking distinctly, "that is me!" That very day, I decided that the only way to get through the running barrier and the anxiety barrier was to be alone with my thoughts. 

It wasn't easy at first. I typically spent the first ten minutes of every run thinking that I just needed to get back in my car and drive home. But after awhile, I was able to concentrate on the rhythm of running while sort of watching my thoughts from a distance. And from a distance, it was a lot easier to see that what I was worrying about wasn't actually so worrisome. Suddenly, those thoughts that had been barring my ability to run were spurring it - the more I ran, the less anxiety I felt; the less anxiety I felt, the more I wanted to run.

This is not to say that I wake up every morning ready to run six miles. When it comes to exercise, most days I would prefer an hour of zumba to an hour of running. So then, perhaps I don't fit neatly into one of the stances above. I don't love or hate running. I'm not great at it (hey ten+ minute mile!). I don't love to run overly long distances or sprint in short spurts. And in fact, running is sort of a big deal to me. It is an extended period of time that is just for me, my health (and my thoughts!).

How do you feel about running? 

Just for fun, here is a picture of Chelsey and I before WeThree ran the Turkey Trot two (or so) years ago (Dani is the photographer). This was just moments before I ran the fastest 3.1 miles of my life (Mary Prendergast, I'm looking at you!)

Happy Running!
& P.S. tomorrow is Friday! 

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