Tuesday, March 2, 2010

My relationship with running.


Crappy quality on the picture, but I'm using it anyway because it combines something I love (The Critic) with something that, well, some days I love and some days I just kinda don't like (running).

Notice I didn't use the word "hate." Now, had you asked me my thoughts on running 3, 5, or even 15 years ago, I would've said, without flinching, that I hated running. I came to hate something simply because I couldn't do it (or, at least convinced myself that I couldn't). How silly is that? It got me thinking about a lot of other things that I can't do (yeah, yeah, "You can do ANYTHING if you just put your mind to it, Tam!"- let's just ignore that thought for the sake of me making a point, yeah?), but that I don't necessarily hate. I can't fly an airplane, but that doesn't make me hate the mechanics involved or become deathly jealous of pilots.

I hated running because it was hard for me to do. It made me wheeze and my lungs burn. I was jealous of everyone else that could run. And little did I know at the time that it was really my extra weight and lack of overall fitness that I hated. Running was just something more specific that I could point to. A scapegoat, if you will.

As I got older (teen years and early 20s), I started to jokingly say "I couldn't run to save my life." Well, I've not only saved my life by learning to run, I've added years to it. It's times like these I wish I could time travel to the past and point and laugh in the face of my 16 year old self. I like to be a hater like that.

So how did I manage to pull a 180? Why do I now regularly participate in an activity that I used to loathe and mock? Well, I can't answer that specifically... I think lots of things happened over time. I matured. I finally realized how important it was for me to lose weight and get healthy. Running just became part of the process, naturally. And before I knew it, I was constantly beating my own personal records. I remember how shocked and proud I was that day I first jogged 10 minutes non-stop. I think that was a breakthrough for me. I used to have flashbacks of middle-school gym class (still do) where everybody had to run a mile on the track. I was dead last. I think I jogged for less than 30 seconds and walked the rest of the way. So the 10 minute jog? Yeah, that was kind of a big deal. Which got me thinking: I'm kind of a big deal.

After my success in jogging, I knew (or felt, rather) that running was the next step. Sure, I could have stuck to jogging, but it became noticeably easier each time and I just got bored. I had wanted to run. I knew it was gonna be a while and that there would be plenty of cramps and soreness along the way, but I decided I was still up for the challenge. I just did it. There are few things in life I can say that about. And I'm still shocked that running is now one of them.

I pushed through a 5 mile run this morning. At first, I was disappointed because I just wasn't feeling it and my time was slower than last Saturday (longest 50:25 of my life, it seemed), but as the morning went on, I thought about the run more and more and couldn't help but smile. "Tamara, you crazy broad, you got out of bed at 4:45 this morning and freakin' ran 5 miles! And you're boo-hooing over 50:25?! Fuh-get about it!"

I'm notorious for not cutting myself enough slack. But that's old news. What I started thinking about even more was my general relationship with running and whether or not I can really call myself a true runner. Is such a thing defined? Or is it all relative?

At the end of the day, I run because: it keeps my anxiety/depression at bay, clears my head, makes me sweat buckets, doesn't require thinking and gives me something to do while I listen to music. Oh, and it like, gives me purpose and a sense of accomplishment er something...

But I'm not as dedicated as others. You won't find me running outside if it's below 50 degrees, nor will you see me signing up for any races or marathons. And I certainly don't run every day. In fact, in my history of being able to run, I'm sure you'll find times where I made excuses not to run (though I'm proud to say that such excuses are rare these days). I don't always achieve the Runner's High. Some days I'm distracted during my runs (like this morning). Some runs hurt and make me want to stop. So does that make me an amateur? Less genuine?

I dunno. I suppose I don't really care. All I know is that, regardless of my mileage, speed and days per week, I still haven't stopped. And that's gotta count for something, right?


Danielle said...

That is awesome! I understand 100 percent.

I have those same horrible memories of always being last in gym class and being the slow chubby girl. I used to say I wanted to include a chapter on how much I hate running when I write a book one day. Lol.

I am still no runner but I like working it and setting goals. You've done great!

Once I heal from surgery my goal is to be able to do a 10 min mile and do a 5k in 30 min. :)

Tamara said...

Thanks! And good luck with your goal. Sounds like a good challenge, yet totally achievable :)