Tuesday, May 1, 2012

"Check the Box, Mom"

There was a question posted on Facebook the other day that simply asked "Why do you run?" Little did they know I've been asking myself that very question a lot lately. I've never fancied myself a runner as it's been something I've done only halfway for most of my life. Granted, I was on the track team my Sophomore year, but it was only my Sophomore year and I was half-hearted in my commitment - nothing like Adam Goucher who evidently went on to become someone in runner-land. I ran the mile in the last meet of the year - the only meet I participated in. It didn't help that I got sick and even though the mono test came back negative I was completely exhausted by 1:00 every day. Running after school was low on my list of priorities - and only happened because Celeste was great fun to talk to and we ran at the same pace.

After Aeryn was born, I had a gym membership and started going to run on a treadmill at night after she was asleep. Since she slept through the night regularly from 10 weeks on I had that freedom. But again, it felt inconvenient and didn't stick.

When I found myself divorced, I would spend the weekends that Aeryn was with her dad jogging the trails at Garden of the Gods. I bought myself a jog stroller and started trying to go even on the weekends that Aeryn was with me. I was out of shape though and it was hard, so it didn't stick.

When I moved into my parents basement I started to take advantage of their treadmill as it was in the middle of "our" living space. At one point I ran every single day because if Aeryn didn't hear me on the treadmill up the hall, she wouldn't stay in bed. This time I had motivation, so it stuck, until that phase was over and she no longer needed to hear that I was right there.

Then I bought a house, and Aeryn was with her dad for the Holidays. Not wanting to sit at home missing her, I went running. A neighbor commented on it and then I felt social pressure not to stop for I'd created an impression. Shortly after that I met a cute boy who likes to run and it was reinforced from another side. I started to run more often and push myself a little harder. I liked when a 5k was no longer hard and when my pants fit just a little bit better. But then I got crazy busy with the end of the school year, moving out of my classroom, taking a graduate course, preparing to sell my house, and getting married - so it didn't stick.

...Until we moved to Eugene and I found how lovely it was to run the trails near our apartment first thing in the morning. I loved the misty air, the dim light of early morning, and the cute little old man who would always smile and wave at me as though we were old friends. It was charming, and refreshing, and almost perfectly idyllic.

But then winter hit and I decided I didn't like the idea of running in a torrential downpour and started staying home more. Buuuuuut, I yielded to Peer Pressure (or rather a thought that it could after all be fun) and registered for a half marathon. Doing so has increased the guilt I feel when I don't run and also the joy I feel when I do something I thought was impossible. I'd say that running itself has become more pleasurable, but today sabotaged any thought of the sort. I had was a rough 9 miles and I felt like sobbing for the final mile and a half along with about three hours afterward. Fortunately I knew that my body had neither the spare energy or water to do so.  I am spent.

So why on Earth do I keep doing this? I'm not sure. I think it's just one way I can feel I'm conquering the impossible, and I get to check off a little goal box when I'm done.


  1. For me, running means in inevitable headache; I used to say it felt like my brain was bouncing around in my head and hitting my skull. If I'm going to exercise, I'll happily power-walk, dance, ride a stationary bicycle, or hit the workout room here for the Nautilus equipment, but I refuse to run.

    I'll be honest, though: lately, I haven't been terribly good at exercising at all. I do walk around the facility, as a matter of course, and I might spend some time briskly walking on the treadmill, but that's about it. I need to get back in the exercise habit.

  2. 9 miles is amazing! You are amazing!

  3. What a great story. I agree with Lindsey, 9 miles is amazing! You are amazing! You will absolutely have good and bad days... luckily you had your bad day today, now it's out of the way and you have nothing but awesomeness left. :)


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