What can I say? I love to run.

standard July 18, 2012 5 responses

It seems so reasonable a time at 10pm when I’m setting the alarm, but at 6:15 it seems impossibly early.

I turned off the alarm and rolled over to go back to sleep. I would have slept on if Little L hadn’t woken up and called to me.

Wide awake. No good reason to not go to the gym like I’d planned the night before.

So I did.

It never fails to amaze me that I thoroughly enjoy running. That I’d pick going out in the near dark instead of going back to sleep for an hour. That it makes me feel strong and invincible. That I can push through the first uncoordinated strides, the aches in my legs, the twinges in my back.

Today I chanted to myself “I don’t stop when I’m tired. I stop when I’m done.” until I was actually done. Until I’d pushed through to the full 25 minutes I had planned to run.

5 minute warm-up, 25 minute run, 5 minute cool-down. I accelerated after running for 10 minutes and again after running 20. I even pushed myself harder during the last two minutes, finishing the run at 6.5 miles an hour.

Nothing impressive compared to those who pound the treadmills around me at a healthy 8.3 miles per hour, but for me, who, three months ago couldn’t run for 90 seconds without wanting to die, it’s nothing short of a miracle.

It feels good to feel the sweat pouring down my face. To hear myself grunt as I near the end. (When Egmos* starts to tell me to quit already, the disembodied voice of Jillian Michaels shuts him up and urges me on.) It feels even better to feel my legs stretch as the treadmill accelerates.

For that short half hour there is nothing other than me, the music, and my body, pushing itself, getting stronger. The high that comes from that stays with me long after I get off the treadmill. All day I feel better, more centered, proud of myself.

No matter what the day brings, I started it by doing something purely selfish for me. I started the day by putting on my own oxygen mask. By taking care of me.

So much more worthwhile than that extra hour of sleep.

*Egmos is my very own personal Evil Green Monster of Self-Doubt. He makes frequent appearances in my head and on this blog.

School Year Resolutions

standard August 12, 2010 13 responses

I’ve never stopped feeling like the start of the school year was the “real” start of the year. When the crayons and binders go on sale at Target I start to unconsciously take stock of my life.

This year I’m coming up short. Really, really short.

– I haven’t run once since April 13th.

– For the last two months I’ve worked every night until midnight if not 1am.

– I’ve been working weekends.

– I’ve been dropping the ball on deadlines, promises, friends, family.
 – And worst of all, I haven’t touched my novel since June 30th.

I’m disappointed in myself. I’m losing focus and allowing myself to get sidetracked from my true goals, from the things that really matter to me. I’m fulfilling other people’s goals to the detriment of my health and my family.

It’s not really working for me any more.

I’m a big believer in the adage “Live your passion and the money will follow.” It’s the path of true happiness. All too often though we get confused and reverse the phrase. But you know what? Following the money never leads to passion. At best it leads to more money in the bank.

I love writing fiction. Nothing else makes me feel more fulfilled or content. It’s my passion. Sadly it’s not a lucrative one. At least it’s not a quickly or guaranteed lucrative one. But it is my passion and deep in my heart I know that if I pursued it properly it might lead somewhere. And yet, I can’t seem to allow myself the time to do what needs to be done so I can succeed as a novelist.

The school year is looming. Bright Back-to-School posters have bloomed in every store window. Supplies and cute clothes are on sale. Kids are getting hair cuts and buying new shoes. Everything smells like fresh start and possibilities. I’m going to ride that wave.

Once again I’m going to attempt to take control of my life and my future. Happiness is a choice and I’m choosing happy.

I’m going to lighten my work load and I’m going to resist filling it right back up. I’m going to start running again. I’m going to pick a race to train for. I’m going eat better, sleep more, and generally take better care of myself. And last, but most definitely not least, I’m going to take the time to finish the edits on my novel so I can finally send it out.

As a friend said this weekend, this is going to be the year of awesome. I’m determined to make it so.

Chaos in my head

standard May 19, 2010 3 responses

I want to go run again, but I’ve gotten out of the habit of running every other day and I’m a bit scared to start again. It’s been three spotty weeks.

I want to write again, but the mass of my book remains to be edited and I feel like I can’t write until that’s done.

I want to edit again, but I’m stuck on two characters who are driving me crazy by not opening themselves up to me. I think that I’m itching to write just so I can get away from those two.

I want to…

I want to…

I want to feel in control again. Mere weeks ago I felt on top of the world. In control. In charge. Today I’m back to being unsettled and ill at ease. My willpower is slipping away. My self-worth is fading.

The answer lies in putting on workout pants and lacing up my shoes. It lies in picking a running program and just getting back outside. For a minute I’ll be frustrated and annoyed that I’m not done with the Couch to 5K program like I should be. I’ll be annoyed that I have to backtrack a week or two. Then I’ll find my footing and the pounding of the pavement will shut off the whining in my brain.

I don’t run to prove something to someone. I run to clear my head. I run to stretch my muscles. I run to remind myself that it’s up to me to take control of myself. I am the one who calls the shots. I am the one who decides for me what is right for me.

When I am outside, running in the dark, it’s just me and my body, moving. The pounding of my feet on the pavement calms the chaos in my head. Thoughts emerge. Ideas bloom. Blocks fall apart. I come back feeling peaceful and quiet. The constant buzzing of thoughts, self doubt, self criticism, and everything else that takes up residence in my head, blocking the good that also lies in there is stilled and I feel good about life and everything else again.

I know all this. I’ve always known this.

So why is it always so hard to lace up those shoes?

One stage at a time I’m acing Couch to 5K.

standard April 14, 2010 2 responses

Robert Ulrey’s voice spoke soothingly into my ear.

“If you are doing day one you will run five minutes, walk three minutes, run five minutes, walk three minutes, then run five more minutes. If you’re doing day two you will run eight minutes, walk five minutes, and run eight minutes. And if you’re doing day three you will run for twenty minutes.”

That was me. Week 5 Day 3. Run 20 minutes.

Me, who seven weeks ago couldn’t run 60 seconds. Today I was being told to run for twenty minutes.

I hesitated at the door, I was pretty tired, maybe it would be wise to stay home, go to bed early, just relax.

But I was already dressed, shoes on, and ready to go.

Maybe I’d just go and redo Week 5 Day 2. I had managed that.

But a tiny voice in my head replied super quietly. “Just go. Try it. You’ll stop if you can’t finish. Every time you’ve thought you couldn’t finish a C25K level you have finished it. You won’t know if you don’t try.”

For a moment I felt like the little girl long ago being assigned the riding teacher’s beloved and fierce show jumping horse for a morning ride through the forest. I had panicked, convinced he was more horse than I could handle, but a good friend had reminded me that the teacher would not have assigned him to me if she hadn’t thought I was a good enough rider to manage her horse.

She was right. The horse and I both made it through that ride unscathed.

Granted it’s odd to draw a parallel between a recorded voice in my iPod telling me I can run a certain distance and a teacher who knew my abilities well. But frankly, Robert hasn’t been wrong yet. He says run, and even when I doubt that I can get through the run, I do.

One stage at a time I’m acing Couch to 5K.

I have no real recollection of the twenty minutes of that run. The minutes flew by in the same dissociated way minutes fly by when you are traveling. I can tell you that it was raining. I can tell you that I was letting my brain wander from one article idea to another. I can also tell you that I probably killed a few snails as I ran around the block three times. But I was in a zone the whole time I was running and when Robert called the ends of the day one and day two runs, told them to walk, told them to start running again, I didn’t falter, didn’t stop, didn’t slow down. I just pushed on.

By the 18th minute I was chanting “You can do this. You can do this. You can do this.” It’s a good thing it was raining and I was alone in the street. I’m not sure I was chanting all that quietly. And at the end of the 20th minute, when Robert finally said “Day three people, your run is over.” I almost burst into tears at the sheer relief of being done and having made it all the way through the run.

As I walked the 5 minute cool down period I fought back tears and giggled at the same time. I ran for 20 minutes. Me. Who seven weeks couldn’t run for 60 seconds.