Monday, January 17, 2011

Becoming a Runner Again

I'm a runner.

I say that with some certainty, but the fact is I really don't run that much anymore.  Frankly, I have not run consistently for any real length of time in my entire adult life.  I always come back to it though when I feel the need to get some exercise or get back in shape.  It's my go-to form of exercise and I relate as a runner.

Some things I love about running:
  • No equipment.  Yes, it is best to have a good pair of running shoes, especially if you are going to be committing some major mileage, but for an on-again-off-again fitness dabbler like me, any pair of sneakers will do.
  • No travel time.  Step out the door and start running.
  • Nodding to other runners.  Rarely have I been out for a run that I have not come across at least one other runner to whom I can give the obligatory head nod.  Runners come in all ages and sizes, and there is something very reassuring about seeing others out there, making the time and pounding the pavement, just like you.  There's a camaraderie there - it's cool.
  • The rhythm.  You may have to be patient for this one.  My husband has tried running a number of times and he has no idea what I'm talking about.  I don't know if it's muscle memory or just getting into the zone, but when you catch that rhythm, it feels (for a while anyway) like you could run forever.  It usually takes a few runs into a new running kick for me to get this feeling.  It's so euphoric, I often wonder why it isn't more of a motivating factor....
  • Cardiovascular health.  With a history of heart disease in my family, this is big.
  • Mental health.  Exercise is an excellent stress-buster.  Who doesn't need that?
  • It's good for your bones.  As a weight-bearing exercise, running helps build and maintain bone density.
  • It's a great calorie burner.  Nuff said.  I love to eat.
  • It's a positive example for my kids.  I want them to see that taking care of ourselves is just a part of everyday life.  It's important.
All excellent reasons to run, right?  I know this.  Yet, since high school I have tried countless times to start up running again on a regular basis, but it just won't stick.

Some things that stand in my way:
  • Time.  Not so much the amount of time - because, really, how much time does it take to run a couple miles?  It's fitting the run consistently into the order of my day that I can't seem to figure out.  
  • Energy.  The best times for a run seem to be first thing in the morning or in the late evening, after the kids are in bed.  *Yaaawwwn*  I'm a sleep-deprived mama - this does not work for me.
  • Daylight.  Even if I had the energy during the wee hours that my children are asleep, most of the year I would be running in the dark.  I don't like running in the dark - it creeps me out.  I do belong to a gym and could go there, but that adds on time and it's still depressing driving to the gym in the dark.
  • My face.  Yep.  My face turns a bright steaming red whenever I run.  And it doesn't go away for a very. long. time.  So even after a shower (which can never be cold enough), it is quite some time before I can reasonably put on makeup or be seen in public.
  • My knees.  They suck.  I have a torn meniscus and a questionable reconstructed ACL in my left knee.  I cannot say with a straight face that this has been a big problem for me for all the running I've done in the past 10 years, but my knees complain more than they used to when I run and, frankly, we're not getting any younger.  I'm just saying.
  • Routine.  As's just not part of mine.    
So.  There it is.  How does it add up?  Clearly, the things holding me back have done just that.  But the things I love about running are SO GOOD!
I am a runner.  But everytime I say it, it rings a little less sincere, and I feel a little less secure and confident in my ability to get it back.

I don't have the answer.  Honestly, I'm afraid to try, because every failed attempt feels like a failure.  Or maybe, every failed attempt is one more run under my belt.  One more run toward my goal.

There is a 10-mile race coming up in May.

Maybe I'll run it.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

This blog is not about my mother

My mother taught me many things.  She taught me compassion.  She taught me to laugh at myself.  She taught me how to get things done when resources are few.  She taught me survival.  She taught me that some things are worth doing simply because it is the right thing to do.  She taught me the value of a good bargain.  She taught me girl talk.  She taught me the importance of family.  She taught me to reflect.  She taught me to love unconditionally.  She is still teaching me.

But this blog is not about my mother.

This blog is about me.

It's about the notion that at some point we are supposed to be grown up - complete with all the knowledge and wisdom generated by our youth - and that we eventually become the adult people we were raised to be.  We can then, in turn, pass our completeness to our own children and raise them with our complete wisdom as though every day means the world.

This blog is about me, figuring it out as I go along.  Because I'm not there yet.  I'm not complete.  I'm not done growing and learning.  I'm not who I want to be yet. 

I'm a philosopher by nature and a teacher by trade.  I believe in the power of inquiry and reflection.  But there is a not-so-fine line between being a life-long learner and being one who is so focused on the goals that she forgets to appreciate the journey.  See, I believe that every day DOES mean the world.  So, I am trying to summon the courage to carve time from the big picture to just be.  Just be who I am.  Right now.  Today.  I am trying to summon the courage to put aside my plans and my goals to share that honestly and confidently with the people who love me.  

So this blog is also about me, figuring it out as I go along.  Life and loved-ones don't stop and wait while we research and make lists and plan the future.  Sure, the possibilities are endless and my dreams are big.  But today is finite, and I only have one chance to live it.  Today, I was a mother, a wife, a novice yogi, a cook and a floor sweeper.  That's a pretty good day.

I hope to share (for myself, my children, posterity at-large, and anyone else who cares to read it) some of what I am figuring out and the other stuff I'm doing along the way.  Some of it may be big, some will be small, and most of it (sorry, Mom) will be things my mother never taught me.