I admit I’m not feeling much into the running thing lately.
And here I just signed up for another half marathon. This one’s in April, and I have to tell you if the registration wasn’t almost as arduous as the actual event, I might not have.
That makes more sense the better you know me.
This particular run is a big deal around here. It sells out in a few minutes. And since I’m competitive about stupid stuff, I get kind of wound up around this time every year.
First thing that morning, I was online, watching the countdown clock and yelling at my family to stop streaming stuff so I wouldn’t have fight for bandwidth at noon when registration opened.
I’d signed up and forked over my money before I even thought about what I was doing. And then I thought “well crap. I should probably train now.”
Events like these aren’t very much fun if you don’t train. That’s kind of a no-brainer. What isn’t as obvious is that they aren’t terribly fun even if you do train. There’s just less of a chance you’ll end up convulsing in a ditch along the road waiting for the paramedics.
But man, has the weather been awful. There were banks of snow three feet tall on my normal route just a couple weeks ago. Sure, the snow’s gone now, but I’m still recovering. Emotionally. Plus, there’s still weather. All week it was windy and kind of snow-spitty. I hate that.
You know what was left when the snow banks melted? All the crap people put down to keep from sliding off the road. It’s everywhere. It’s skritchy in my sneaker tread. It gets in my socks and causes blisters. Not fun.
And it feels awful to start running outside again just in general. Here’s a fun fact: if you’ve been running on the streets or on trails, changing over to a treadmill feels like slow death. And then vice-versa: switching over to the streets when you’re used to a nice, soft treadmill is grueling.
And running outside, which I really should be doing if I’m actually training for an outside event, is fraught with danger. I could get attacked by a mountain lion. No lie. I live next to the wilderness. Kind of. Even if they don’t have claws, there are critters for every season. When it’s warm, there are snakes, when it’s cool: ticks. Running outside means risking your life.
Sure I have a dog, but she’s not a lot of protection. Or even motivation. People say “get a dog, you’ll have to run.” And if you ask her, she’ll say “yay! Running’s great.” I’ll put on sneakers and get her leash, and she’ll lose her ever-loving mind about how great running is.
But a half-mile in, she starts hanging back. Sometimes she’ll fake a limp. Soon, it’s like dragging a rock. And that dog stops to poop at least forty seven times an hour. I actually don’t know how we’re keeping her fed with as much waste as she produces.
And that thing about protection? Forget about keeping woodland creatures at bay. First we have to deal with menacing INANIMATE OBJECTS. Last weekend, she freaked out about a garbage can. We could only pass it if I shielded her, and yelled at it to stop looking so scary.
Okay, teensy confession: I need to cut her some slack. It was windy, and the can wasn’t technically inanimate. It was rolling around on this nearly abandoned rural road in the foothills. And I had the tiniest idea that it was a bear at first, because I’m apparently very nearly blind and probably not meant for the out-of-doors in general.
… ANYWAY, from an ROI standpoint, running’s no more than kind of meh, at it’s best. Everybody talks about the “runner’s high.” Well that’s much less of a thing than it sounds.
What’s actually going on is if you run long enough, your body feels so betrayed by what your brain is making it do, it just stops communicating. And then your brain gets smug and thinks: “see, I told you we could do this. This doesn’t feel bad at all.”
Except your brain is just losing its grip on reality due to oxygen deprivation and doesn’t realize everything below your neck is now on strike, chanting “Hey-hey! Ho-ho! You won’t be able to walk down stairs tomorrow, dummy.”
… because your body doesn’t make up good protest chants when your brain’s not engaged.
The fact that running doesn’t ever actually feel that good compared to most other stuff isn’t just my opinion. It’s based on empirical evidence. Here’s an experiment:
- Step one: Go run.
- Step two: Stop.
Now think: which feels better? Stopping feels better. Way better. In fact, nothing feels as good as stopping, except staying stopped. I’m still enjoying having stopped from the last time I ran, and that was a week ago.
Plus, I just read this thing online and I think I’m dealing with a vitamin D deficiency, what with the sun not having been out in at least four hundred and seventy thousand consecutive days, now. I’ve got all the symptoms: my muscles are tired, my bones hurt, I’m pale, I’m bad at math, and I’ve been really pretty grouchy for most of the last ten years.
And would you believe all my running clothes are too tight? I’ve gained weight and I can feel it, even in my shoes. Going for a run is going to be painful and probably as bad for my joints as it is for my ego.
To top it all off I’ve lost my running buddy to a knee thing. He could have recuperated by now, but maybe the not-running-with-me-thing is kind of a relief to him. He doesn’t have to worry about being tripped, which only happens when we run together and he smarts off. Or passes me. Or if I’m grouchy. Maybe if I say I’m sorry and promise no tripping any more, his knee will miraculously heel and he’ll come running with me again?
Bottom line: motivation is a problem this season. Big problem. Huge.
BUT … I did sign up, and I don’t want to be the one convulsing in a ditch when the ambulance comes. Plus, at the finish line, there’ll be another bulky t-shirt, and probably a medal and likely a cheeseburger. Short term, there’s a little extra mental clarity, a good sweat, and a sound night’s sleep to look forward to.
And now that I’ve griped at you all, my watch is charged up, the sun’s finally out, and I happen to have a seven-miler on the calendar.
Or maybe I’ll just do a five and call it good.
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