Running, Racing, and Life

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

Overcoming the fear of The Group

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.

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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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