Running for Mortals
My dog is so cute it's stupid.
Mercy me, I haven't posted since last Friday. Shame on me. But really, I have very little to talk about because my life has been unusually mellow and routine. It's been the same as always - too much work, not enough free time, too many late nights, and lots of running. But I've been sneaking in a few episodes of Dexter with the husband and got a chance to spend a weekend at my mom's house playing "Extreme Home Makeover" with her bedroom decor, so I can't really complain. Sometimes it's easy to mistake contentment for boredom, but I think that's because we live in a culture where we're conditioned to believe that it's glamorous to live in chaos. But in my ever increasing age, I'm learning to appreciate the everyday and cherish it. No news is good news ...
But I have become slightly more lax on my running schedule (I forcefully pried one of my fingers off of the Mike Tyson grip I seem to have on it), and I have my friend Mandy to thank for that. We've only been running together for three weeks, but I've already made drastic changes in the most important part of the sport - the mental aspect. Last Wednesday Mandy decided we should do hill repeats at the university's cross country track (which is beautiful, by the way. I can't wait to go back and actually run around it and pretend I'm semi-fast like the other people out there running in nothing but sports bras and shorty-shorts). After each .25 mile jaunt up and down the hill, we rested at the bottom for a few minutes to catch our breath and chit chat. After hill repeat 7,821 Mandy challenged me to start running without my watch.
"But I just bought this!" I whined, clutching my hot pink stop watch in my hand.
"How much was it?" she implored, adjusting her super fancy GPS watch on her wrist.
"$5 dollars at Wal-Mart," I mumbled under my breath. "But Mandy, that's not the point."
Ultimately Mandy convinced me to fork over my watch and complete my next run sans a timing device. In the short time she's known me, Mandy has already picked up on how neurotic I am about my running (which I shudder to think I am that transparent) and sees it as being a handicap to my progress. She didn't tell me anything I didn't already know on a subconscious level, but her bringing it up to the surface and calling my attention to it was a good wake up call. I am too focused on how fast I'm running. I do wear myself out by running too much and too fast because I put this asinine expectation on myself to get a certain time. I put too much emphasis on how I compare to other runners, and running is ultimately going to lose its luster because I am going to be constantly frustrated and unhappy.
I have tunnel vision and see running only as times and distances, not exercise and fun. I repeatedly play up my failures and downplay the fact that I just ran 12 miles on Friday because it wasn't quite fast enough for me and my unimpressed self.
So on my last long run this past Friday, I ran 12 miles ... without my watch. I felt all twitchy and weird not being able to look down and check my time each mile, but you know what? I enjoyed that run more than any run I've ever had. It felt amazing. It probably wasn't super fast, but I'm learning to let go of that. I haven't even been doing this for a full year. I am not going to be some Olympian or running beast. Speed will come with nothing but time and most importantly, persistence ... and Lord knows I am not short on that.
I read a book last week called Running for Mortals: A Commonsense Plan For Changing Your Life Through Running. In the book, author John Bingham states the everything about running can somehow be related to life. The more involved I get in the sport and the more insane I become, the more I realize that what he said is spot on.
I spend way too much attention on what I think life should be rather than celebrating what it is right in this moment. I make too many comparisons to other people, and I ultimately end up frustrated and unhappy because I feel like I somehow don't measure up.
Gosh, there's a metaphor of EVERYTHING. I feel like Dr. Phil and Oprah are sitting somewhere, nodding knowingly at my epiphany.
By a show of hands, who is honestly surprised that this post ended up being about running? Anyone? Anyone? I wouldn't be surprised if I lose readers over it eventually, but you'll have to bear with me. The marathon is only 16 days away. After the race I can almost maybe? possibly guarantee you that I won't talk about running nearly as much because I won't be in training mode. Trust me, I'm just as anxious as you to get back into "I run just for the fun of it and to be healthy!" stage and away from the "MORE MILES NOW!" aspect of it. I keep telling Clayton, "After the race I'm just going to run every other day and it will be pressure-free! ... until I start training for the race in October." Neurotic people should NOT be allowed to have hobbies. Why couldn't I have put this drive and focus on something that would really pay off one day like medical school or Faberge egg painting?
I think this excerpt of Running For Mortals sums it up perfectly:
'Your runs will get easier. You will find yourself saying things like "I am only running 3 miles today" and "I have to get out for a run". You will definitely bore your family and friends to tears talking about your running. This first year, running will become a part of who you are.'Well, that ... and this: