Friday, October 1, 2010

Running on Full

This is the dog, Cooper, sitting in a puddle in the last mile of our run. He is so hot, the water's rippling. He is the bane of my existence.

I started running in late April, my only goal being to prevent the dog from laying pipe under my sewing machine. Really. That was my only reason. I could have walked but walking is terribly inefficient and mind-numbingly tedious. If I was going to do this, it would be on my terms: fast, easy and relatively painless.

I had no goals. No desire to compete in races. No need for special gear or garments. I just wanted to stop the poop. (It did not, in fact, stop the poop, and we're still working on that. I'm bitter about it, yes, but that's not the point.)

A few tools became available to me that made the runs more fun. Running without my ipod is a big no-no. I must have music, cranked up as loud as my old eardrums can tolerate. Without the music I can not only feel myself sucking wind, but hear it also. One or the other. That's all I can take. Podrunner totally rocks for this. also added a social component to my runs, making my solo runs more communal. As I ran, I'd try out different statements in my head to summarize each day's adventures. And while readers may not have been impressed at my comedic attempts, it entertained me and kept my mind off how many more miles.

At first, I was happy with two miles. A quick, easy route, past the neighborhood school, up to the big stoplight and back to my door. Enough time for dog business, and enough time for me to work up a mild sweat. After a few weeks of this, I was bored. I thought I'd see if I could go three miles. Then it was four, then five. I didn't really have a plan or a regimen, although I do like that word, regimen. Sounds so official. At this point, it was still about the poo. The running got easier and more fun. My podrunner repertoire grew as did my dailymile circle.

I found as I ran that I rather liked the feeling of accomplishment. I felt proud that I could run 3 or 4 or 5 miles. I stopped making jokes about my running ineptitude and started basking in the glow of finishing something I started. And let me tell you, that feeling is unbeatable.

Then the inevitable happened. I wanted to go father than I knew the dog could handle. I *gasp* left the dog at home (in the backyard, again, pooping). Now this was liberating. I was faster, lighter, freer. I was like the wind! Excuse me while I wax hyperbolic. I discovered something I did not know.
I. Enjoy. Running.

In fact, I love it. I look forward to it as I'd look forward to a date with my husband. I crave it like I crave air.

It occurred to me that the reason for this new-found passion was that it was, essentially, all for me. I realize that sounds selfish. Hear me out. My past running attempts were prompted by outward impetus. I would "train" to run a race with a friend or to lose weight or to avoid poop.

But now, I was unfettered. I was running to challenge myself, and only myself. I ran to shake loose the crumbs of half-decent thought in my brain, or to clear out the cobwebs of doubt or frustration or anger or whatever. I ran to push myself, mind and body. And in the running, I found that I love the running.

So I am going to do some races, but now because I want to, and because I am no longer crippled by fear of the length of those races. I can do anything for three miles, or five miles, or ten. I'm stronger than I thought I was, deeper than I realized and more capable than I imagined.

And I keep plastic poop bags in the studio now.


  1. Jen, I absolutely love following your training. You have been quite an inspiration to me over the past few years. I look forward to the day my last kiddo starts school and I can REALLY enjoy my run (without worrying about getting home to rescue the hubby and/or the kiddos). Keep those witty comments coming!