Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Run, NoMo, Run.

The hardest part about running is getting out the door.

I've been running for about 11 years now and this is as true now as the first day I put on my sneakers and headed outside. The hardest part is making yourself do it. In fact, it's even harder now that I have two kids. There's always an excuse. I'm too tired. I had a bad day. I could use a nap. I want to sleep in. I don't have the time. I haven't had a glass of water since - wait, did I even get a chance to drink today?

I started running because Mr Earth-to-be decided he was going to start running to get in shape, and I didn't want to be left out. I also didn't want to watch my ass get larger while he got leaner and healthier.

I found that I liked it. I started out running for about a half hour, and everytime I felt like I could go a bit further, I added another five minutes onto the run. It took about a year until I could run for an hour easily, but I never got past that point. (Except that one time when I unwittingly ran past my turnaround point, but that's a story for another day..)

When we moved to our house, I met up with an old schoolmate who ran with an informal group. She invited me to join, and I agreed - never intending to actually go. Then I got to thinking: why the hell not? So I did. The group was led by a 60-year-old man who had done countless marathons and who could run circles around me. Thanks to him, I ran my first 5K race and mustered up the courage to take on a half marathon.

I got into running more and more, and joined an official training group. With them, I managed to complete a 30K race, and was training for a marathon. The marathon happened to be scheduled ont the same day as a 10-hour rehearsal I had for my current play. I didn't feel that I could do both in one day, and the rehearsal won out. I ran a 40K training run the day before, though, because I hated to waste all that training time. The next weekend I took a pregnancy test and it was positive, and I gave up the idea of marathoning for a while.

I ran through both pregnancies: to 37 weeks with Big C, and 36 weeks with Little G. Both were born a week after I stopped running. Do you think they were enjoying the ride, or wondering when is this chick going to stop running long enough for me to get the hell outta Dodge? Since having kids, I haven't been able to run much longer than 10K. There just isn't the time to train that I used to have. And I'm tired. And I like napping. And I keep forgetting to drink water.

But, I'll tell you this: in the 10 or so years since I've decided that my health matters and I really need to give this exercise thing a go, I've tried TaeBo, kickboxing, yoga, pilates, spinning, gravity, aerobics, and weight training. Running is the only thing that I keep coming back to, time and again.

It's the perfect exercise. (Well, maybe not 'perfect' - it has yet to get rid of the muffin top..) You can do it alone, or in a group. You can run for fun, or compete. You can wear some ratty shorts and old shoes, or you can have the latest gadgets and gizmos. You can be short, tall, skinny, fat, fast, slow and it doesn't matter. You don't need any particular skill or coordination, just determination. And that, I have in spades. I always smile when I hear someone say: "Oh, I'm not running today, I'm on vacation." For me, vacation means having more time to run. Not squeezing it in before the kids wake up, between meals, or during nap time.

I started out running to lose weight, but that's not why I continue to do it (although it's a nice bonus). I need to run. When I'm running, I feel like everything else just fades into the background: stress, anger, frustration, and yes, even exhaustion. It keeps me sane. After I run, I yell less. I'm annoyed less. I'm more patient. I'm more enthusiastic. I have more energy. It gives me confidence, because I feel like even if my day falls to pieces around me at least, at least, I've accomplished that one thing.

That one thing is huge, too, because so many people think that they can't do it, but I know the truth. I can. Anyone can. All you have to do is take the first step: Get out the door.

It's hard. But it's so worth it.


Mouse said...

Running is just not for me. I have wanted to get into it for the quiet time alone and all, but it's never worked for me.

After years away from it, I recently gave in to dance again. It satisfies me on so many levels. I'm going to see how far into this pregnancy I can manage to keep it up, though I doubt it will be anywhere near 37 weeks.

Sue Fisher said...

My story:

I started running at 25--just short runs at first, then a bit longer. I quickly found a running partner and we stuck together, more or less for the next 9 years. The two times she moved away, I found other women to run with. I love them all and am in touch with all of them to this day even though we are scattered all over the country.

I ran with friends, I ran alone. I ran outdoors. I ran indoors. I ran to visit. I ran for solitude. I ran to control my thoughts. I ran to control my emotions. I ran for the pure pleasure of the endorphin high. I participated in 5, 8 & 10k runs, run-bike-run duathalons and team triathalons--all fun runs for I am short and slow--but they were important to me b/c I proved I could do it. I began running across Canada, figuratively speaking, mapping out my steps on a wall map at home.

When I got from Victoria to Eastern Alberta the twinges started in my outer ankle. I sought out physio. I kept running. Soon I could barely walk, but still I ran--just a little. I sought out more physio, did hours of exercises at home to make it all better. The pain got worse. I quit running for a year. I got orthotics. I tried to run again. The chronic injury took little time to flair up once more.

I took up cycling as my only sport. I was healthy and happy but still missed running with a longing I can't even begin to describe. I got pregnant. I got thyroid disease. The undiagnosed disease exaccerbated all my chronic injuries such that I still haven't figured out how to exercise without pain. I carried a clingy child for almost 2 yrs non-stop to the point where my hips adjusted and made my legs different lentghs. I endured various attempts to rectify the problem.

This is where I stand today. I ran for 9 years without pause. I've now lived 9 years with chronic injury. I doubt I will ever run again ... and I am still very, very sad about it all.

Anonymous said...

I'm's a hard thing getting that foot out the door!

Kyla said...

My knees won't allow it. They just won't. Though, you are so right about STARTING being the hardest part. I use a recumbent bike and I always have 100 reasons why I should skip...but once I'm on it, they don't matter much.

bren j. said...

We tried running for a while but between my dud knees and my abysmal lung capacity, it's just never going to happen. I've been walking several miles on Wednesday mornings with a new friend though and I figure since I'm pushing two kids in a giant stroller that's like twice the workout, right? RIGHT?

painted maypole said...

I haven't tried running since I was in 9th grade and joined (and shortly thereafter quit) track. maybe I'd like it... but I just remember being BORED.

b*babbler said...

I try so very hard... I really don't love running, but I *do* like the idea of losing weight. And I also LOVE the idea of getting out of the house for an hour with my ipod.

Ah, the dilemma.

Denguy said...

Exactly how I feel about/during/after running.
It also gets my motor running.

kgirl said...

So far, I hate it. But I'm doing it.