A Meditation on Returning to Running

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.

IMG_1380I’ll see you on the trail, friends!

one step at a time.

How to run a mile, one baby step at a time.

Have I been a little scarce? I’m not gonna lie, it’s been a rough summer in a lot of ways. I’m generally in favor of being positive. I’ve been known to adopt a “fake it til you make it” strategy. But there’s value in venting, sometimes, too, and in owning it when you are feeling a little rough. Me? I’m bogged down in dissertation hell, hitting some roadblocks and hearing crickets when I reach out for help. I’m frustrated with some issues at work related to the general support offered to clinicians. There was a death in my family back in May that required some traveling and a lot of emotional intensity. And I’m still recovering from a stress fracture in my foot.

I’m not making a list of sob stories to complain— au contraire. I’m doing it to give myself permission to feel a little beaten up and to give myself credit for pushing through and to congratulate myself for the progress I’ve made. It’s way too easy to say “I haven’t written as much as I need to have written”, and “I am not going to PR in a fall 5k like I wanted”. It’s harder to say “I learned how to write MPlus programs from scratch this summer” and “I can make it through the hard yoga class without pain” and “I ran a good mile on the treadmill at PT yesterday before I had to stop.”  These things are progress, even if they are baby steps towards my bigger goals. They count.

So, how can I help myself acknowledge the setbacks and appreciate the baby steps, rather than stew in my personal pity party?

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being injured blows.

you know that song “how can i miss you if you won’t go away”? or how about that old aphorism “absence makes the heart grow fonder?”

Either way, I miss running, and I love running. And I can’t run for 6 weeks. That’s right, friends, I have the dreaded scourge of runners everywhere. . . a stress fracture. Of the second metatarsal, to be exact. (Warning: There will be some photos of my poor foot after the jump).

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Adventures in training.

I have learned a lot training for this dinky little race. A little bit about running, sure, but also a lot about myself. So. I live in Tucson, and in the late summer the weather can be, well, changeable. So. This happened.

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it wasn’t raining when i left.

But you know what? It was OK. I got wet. Really, totally, drenched, like my underwear was soaked and my shoes still aren’t dry. But really, it was fine. It was just raining. It got me to thinking how much effort we spend avoiding things that we think are awful, or waiting for things to be perfect. Is the thing we’re dreading the end of the world? Does it really matter if things are just so? If I wasn’t training for a race, I would have looked at the questionable sky and said “eff it! this is bathrobe and coffee weather.” Then I would have continued to believe that getting caught in the rain would be awful, and that I couldn’t do it. If I had never fallen off my bike, I’d be scared to ride. If I’d never face-planted out of bhakasana, I’d still be teetering on my tiptoes. Part of this is learning to get over fear, but part of it is learning that it’s ok to be a little uncomfortable. Life is uncomfortable sometimes. . . especially on the road to somewhere awesome. Doing things that are uncomfortable on purpose— whether it’s running farther, getting up early, foam rolling your IT bands– can help us learn to endure discomfort that we have to go through. I know there are people who think this is crazy (I might be married to one such person), but I have seen this happen in myself and happen in others. I can train my legs to run farther, yes, but so too can I train my brain to endure.

on running alone at sunrise.

until this week, i had not run on a track since i was a child. roads? yes. treadmill? yes. trails? yes. but tracks ? that seems like. . . i don’t know, it’s for runners. Like people who eat gu and wear compression socks and talk about negative splits. but now that i’m doing this training plan (http://www.halhigdon.com/training/51097/8K-Intermediate-Training-Program) with Yam (https://zabbylogica.wordpress.com/2014/06/25/who-are-these-people-who-love-running/), I have to do. . . speed work? ok, i say, i can do a “tempo run”– that’s where you deliberately build speed to a faster-than-normal pace, basically, but what is this 400 repeats crap?  FUN, is what it is!  I found me a track:

track

high school track, holiday weekend, don’t mind if i do!

6 AM. Sun’s just up. It’s still cool-ish outside. I don’t see anyone else around. I can hear my breathing, and my footfalls, and it’s kinda . . . meditative. There’s a sense of being totally alone with myself, and almost isolated. I feel that way swimming, but I’ve never really felt it running before. there’s the repetition. the focus. the sense of just me.

Plus, running intervals makes a GPS pace chart look kinda like an EKG tracing:

if your EKG looks like this, call me, STAT.

if your EKG looks like this, call me, STAT.

So, maybe I’m becoming a “runner”, or maybe that was a myth all along. . .

Racing for slowpokes

So, have you ever struggled with this “this is hard, this sucks” vs. “i’m so glad i did that/didn’t quit” dichotomy? I do. And so does the hubs. . .

A little while ago, we ran a 5-k together. It was max’s first race. . . and it was in the evening, in tucson, in june. It was 5-k, but it was ROUGH— have you ever tried running when it’s HOT? He decided to sign up sort of on a whim— lemme ‘splain.

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