Justifying My Love

untitledWhen you say you love running, you create an immediate problem for yourself.   Well, you do if make it a public statement.  Chances are one of your non-running friends will–in the very near future–point out that she saw you running the other day and “you sure didn’t look like you were loving it!”  A laugh that will no doubt sound somewhat snarky to you may follow her comment.

 

Then there’s this:

The trouble with loving running is that you don’t love every run.  For me, there are three main categories of runs I don’t love.  Pretty crazy: I love running yet admit that not only are there times I don’t, there are whole classifications of those times.  And they are:

1.  External factors.   Most of the time, this is weather.  Yesterday, I indulged myself and lingered over Saturday morning coffee, the paper and my cats.  Paid for it by running 15 miles on a sunny, 80 degree mid morning Southwest Florida day.  Sure I found things to appreciate, the birds swooping over the ponds and canals, Scott Simon’s interview with musician Olga Bell [Tempo OLGA] and the water bubblers at the park.  The poetry of running was not, however, keeping time with my sodden footfalls.
Another external factor is the annoying running companion.  You know, the whiner who complains, the celebrity-in-his-own-mind who relates his PRs to you, mile by excruciating mile, and the needy, troubled soul who seems to have mistaken you, a runner, for his psychotherapist.

2. Internal factors.  These runs are the ones where I’m not 100%, but not injured or ill enough to scrap the run entirely. IMG-20150516-WA0000 Instead of losing myself in the flow, I’m constantly monitoring my scratchy throat, or worst, that hamstring that seems to be ok but is letting me know we better stay in the slow lane if we know what’s good for us (and want to run tomorrow.)   And of course, who hasn’t had one of those moments on an otherwise, until-then delightful run when your mind abruptly cuts to its index of public bathrooms/construction sites with porta potties?

3. The mind/body connection.  Most of the time, running improves my mood.  If I’m happy, it just gets better.   Crabbiness is best dissipated by running.  I can usually outrun out the demons, or at least get a perspective on them that shrinks them down to size after six miles or so.  Solutions to problems often begin to appear once I’m moving.   But, every once in a while, there’s an issue that is bigger than the run.  433735f4eecf1d48d6cad0b27ed5e500 (2) When I can’t resolve or it or get past it, whatever IT is, the run can feel like a chore.

While I haven’t figured out how to be 100% in love with every run, I still love running.  Like all relationships, there are moments when you may not be in love with your partner, child or critter, but you still love them, even at their most exasperating.

And indeed, there are some at least partial solutions to the above.  Weather is weather, of course.  Pay attention to the forecast, plan and wear clothes designed for the climate.  As for the annoyance factor, a fellow runner I was chatting with just before Grandma’s Marathon in 2014 advised always having your earbuds at hand.  This allows you to smile graciously, plug in and say: “I’m just going to listen to some music now.”

When your body is talking to you, be smarter than I have been.  untitled (2)Slow it down to a walk, enjoy your surroundings, relax.  Repeat until that voice is a whisper (or you find the bathroom.)  As for the major stuff?  Meditation, bubble baths, chocolate and seeing a professional are all good.  And know that not all runs are easy; you don’t need to love every one to love the sport.  Be open: tomorrow’s run may make you feel you can fly– and fall in love all over again.

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......former public defender/legal aid lawyer, Teach For America teacher, and always running....

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