It’s THRILLING to accomplish something you weren’t certain you could do. For all the babble out there and instagram quotes about comfort zones and breakthroughs and whatnot, that central truth remains. And to accomplish something you aren’t certain you can do, you have to, well, do something you aren’t sure you can do. For people who are risk-averse creatures of habit, this can be a huge leap— but so, so worth it. There are roller-coaster thrills, and then there are life-changing thrills. On the roller coaster, you know you’re on there for five minutes and everything’s been safety-checked. For the other kind, there’s no net— you don’t know what will happen.
Last weekend, I ran a Ragnar Relay with my sister and a bunch of other lawyers.
Why, as a reasonably slow adult, would I choose to participte in competitive running events? I pay money, run when I don’t feel like running, make a trip to whatever running shop to pick up my bib and tshirt, get up at some ungodly hour of the morning, wait in line for a porta-potty in the freezing cold, and then run so hard I feel a little sick, only to finish in the middle of the pack, eat an underripe banana, go home, and go back to whatever the rest of my life holds that day.
Sounds a little crazy, I guess, when I try to explain it.
But competitive running events are immensely popular among adults who aren’t, and never were, elite athletes. I know some people do it for the social aspect, some people do it because they need some external accountability (interesting thoughts on this re: Gretchen Ruben’s 4 tendancies— stay tuned). Some people are just really competitive and they get a buzz from that. I get a little satisfaction from these aspects, but not a lot. I’m an introvert. I’m pretty self-motivated. So why? Continue reading
I had some more free time than usual over the holidays. I also got a new toy for a gift (thanks babe!)
So naturally, I went trail running!
Hi, I’m Zabby, and I’m a Capital-I Introvert. Often when I tell people this about myself, they laugh and say something like “but you’re so friendly!” There’s been a lot of discussion in the general zeitgeist* these days of what real introversion means (Exhibit A , Exhibit B). Really, it comes down to the fact that social interaction takes energy. A lot of introverts are also sensitive, like I am— and that combination can be challenging. I find it hard to talk to people I don’t know, and I hate being in the middle of a crowd (I’d rather be on the edge). I don’t like loud things with lots of stimulation or being forced into conversation. I hate feeling trapped. I DON’T hate people— I have friends who I love deeply and want to be with. But I have, like, eight, not fifty.
At the same time, I believe in the benefits of a group— for motivation, accountability, energy, inspiration, pushing boundaries, learning. It’s NOT about competition, comparison, or shame. “Make a date with a workout buddy!” is such common advice now that it’s almost a cliche.
I know those benefits are waiting for me, if I can push myself over the “OH NOES! STRANGERS! TALKING!” wall that I sometimes manage to build.
So, I’m back to running. I’m building back up slowly, but I’ve been able to get out and run almost every day that I’ve really wanted to. I had a few times where I’ve run for less time than I planned because my foot didn’t feel right, but those days have been few and far between. I’m healing. And guess what? Running, which I missed so dearly, still sucks sometimes! Some days it’s hot and I’m tired and I can’t seem to get in a groove. But that happens to every runner, and now, I just don’t really mind. What happened?
Did being injured teach me gratitude? Yes, I’m sure, but it also gave me a lot of time to read and think. I read a lot of books about running— Running and Being (a meditative classic by George Sheehan), Ready to Run (Kelly Starrett’s owner’s manual for a running body), Run Fast (good old Hal Higdon), What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (another meditation, by Murakami). I listened to audiobooks, too, during otherwise boring sessions on the bike or elliptical: Finding Ultra, Born to Run, Natural Born Heroes, Eat & Run. I read some other, non-running books, too: Outliers (Malcolm Gladwell, who is, love him or hate him, a creative thinker), Bad Feminist (Roxane Gay), and parts of Igniting Greatness (a book that might unkindly be called “self-help” but is really about psychology and personal choice, given to me by Howie Glasser, who sets up behind me in yoga twice a week). See, I told you I had a lot of space to fill!
What books should I read next?
So yes, I learned from the experience of not running, and I learned from the things I did instead. I think I’m a better runner now. I am a little slower and I am covering fewer miles, but I think I fixed part of my running brain, or heart, or soul.