September 10, 2009


Well, it’s happened. And not once--but TWICE, people! I think I will write a screenplay about this inspirational story and sell it to the Hallmark Channel or Lifetime. Something along the lines of Tyler, A Real Hero. Ok, perhaps that’s taking it a little too far, but it feels like an accomplishment of enormous proportions in my case. And here’s why: I like running about as much as oil likes water. We just don’t jive. When we’re thrown together, we part as quickly as possible. You can stick us together as much as you want, we will never get along--never.

Until now. Yes, folks, it seems like there is even hope for oil and water these days. I can be taught! The DH and I have been running mornings all summer. Ok, not such a long time, but I’m still going strong, and I’ve learned a few things that I’d love to share. Those of you who are long-time lovers of things athletic will probably get a kick out of it, but those of you who are like me--listen closely--for us there is hope! Hope, I tell you!

1. If you can walk faster than you can run--still run. It may seem counter-productive, but it’s really not. If you’re running--you’re running--and it will still help you build up for the future. Even though those kids walking to class in the morning are looking at you funny and pointing and laughing because you are “pacing” them, just don’t look them in the eye and you can block them out. Anyway, lots of people underestimate the energy and agility of an 8-year-old walking to school! Don’t sweat it.

2. If your feet are falling asleep, that means you have wimpy calf muscles! And, unfortunately, your calves are strangling your ankles, contricting the blood flow to your feet. When you feel your toes tingle, run through it as much as you can and then just stop and stretch, and then keep going. It’s wicked annoying, but eventually, as your legs get stronger, it will go away. Calf raises also help, and stretching out those calves before and after running will help too.

3. If you are burping and you haven’t eaten breakfast yet, it’s probably time to stop guzzling large amounts of Mountain Dew the night before. First of all, it’s empty calories, and second of all--well, just take my word on this one. What you eat can make a difference in how you feel during and after running (uh, yeah, stating the obvious, sorry), so putting the Twinkie down is also a good idea.

4. Find out your neighborhood's garbage pick-up routes and schedule. I know that sounds weird, but you'll find--especially if you run in the morning--it is quite essential. If your neighborhood is like ours, people have to put their overflowing trash bins out front for the truck to come get it, and running by that at 7:00 a.m. is not happy-making. Don't give yourself another reason to quit. Because trust me, it's a legitimate reason. Run in the sections of your area on the days they aren't having trash collection.

5. The zone is real. I cannot stress this enough: THE ZONE IS REAL. For all of you haters out there who say, “Oh, I’m just not a runner,” let me tell you from the Queen of Running Hatred: EVERYONE can be a runner! And I can say that with a bit of certainty because I’m the most unlikely person to run that I know. Once you hit that zone, you’ll be so happy, you will forget all that pain that got you to that point--and you’ll just want to do it again and again. It sounds masochistic, but I promise you it’s worth it. Think about it like childbirth: the zone is your cute, pudgy, pinch-those-checks exercise baby. The benefits far outweigh the risks.

6. Don’t run to lose weight. At least not to begin with. Run for the other advantages--there are tons of them, by the way: healthy heart and lungs, improved bone health, enhanced mood (bring on those endorphins! I’ll say it again: THE ZONE IS REAL), better coordination, more energy. If you start out hoping to lose weight, you’ll just get sick of it and quit before you get anywhere because running is hard and you have to build up some stamina before you start losing any weight. Don’t get me wrong, running is a great form of exercise to lose weight, just start out with many other motivations--you’ll stay on track that way.

7. Go to bed. I don’t care how cool that late night program is, or how riveting that novel is, it will not be worth it when you try to pull your sorry, lazy rearend out of bed in the morning. And it gives you too good of an excuse to sleep in and then tell yourself you’ll run “tonight” or “tomorrow,” and we all know what that means. So, listen to your mother, and hit the sack early.

8. Get an iPod. This is probably somewhat akin to my cell phone thing, I’m most likely the last person in America to get one, so when I say get an iPod, you’re probably thinking . . . uh, ok, done. But if you are like me, I don’t really listen to music that often, and when I do, I’m always by a computer, so I just listen online. However, running with an iPod can really help to distract you as you find your way to the zone (I know what you are thinking, but the ZONE IS REAL. I SWEAR it.) so that you don’t give up. I also like to listen to podcasts because when I’m listening to a story I get all caught up in it and I forget that my calves are on fire. There’s a lot to be said for distractions, which I learned from a very skilled nurse who took my blood once. Don’t underestimate that power.

9. Chant a mantra. An example of an inappropriate mantra would be “stop now or you’re going to die!” which is what I said over to myself in my head for the first week. Yeah--surprisingly, it didn’t help. If you can’t do anything else, just concentrate on one step at a time. And I don’t mean that in a figurative sense--that’s completely literal. Just tell yourself, “one more step” every time your shoe hits the pavement, and soon you’ll find you’re done before you know it. Or . . . sometimes it drags on forever, but it’s really worth it, so just keep going. Sooner or later, it WILL go by faster than you think. Another mantra I used was “it’s supposed to hurt.” You’d think that would be depressing, like watching Hope Floats when you get dumped, which is equally contradictory, but somehow it always made me feel better. Find a mantra that works, and chant it.

10. Running hurts--you just have to get used to it. It really is supposed to, so don’t try to make it into the same kind of enjoyment you derive from sitting in front of the telly with a bag of potato chips. It’s not going to happen. If you’re going to get anywhere, you are going to have to push yourself. Pushing yourself hurts--take it from someone who really, really enjoys sitting in front of the tube with an array of snack foods. Running can be fun, but it’s a whole different kind of enjoyment. But nonetheless, it IS enjoyment, so don’t give up, the zone will come and find you. (Folks, it’s REAL, cross my heart.)

Honestly, the thing that has kept me going is that zone. And the days I can’t find it, the promise of it keeps me going. I can still remember that first morning, when suddenly I could hold my head up and breathe again, my feet drumming against the road at a steady rhythm. My legs seemed to go on autopilot, and I felt like I could just kick back for the remainder of the flight, an energy boost going off like a nitro injection. As a longtime disbeliever, I was seriously in shock to find out that the zone is in fact real. Not only that it’s real, but that it even works for people like me, people who “aren’t runners,” people who don’t take naturally to chasing after invisible targets. When I say you can get there, I mean the most unlikely candidates--including yours truly. So, get out there and hit the streets! You won’t be sorry you did.

And, just for your listening pleasure, I’ve included my running playlist here. Enjoy!

[Why yes, that is a picture of me . . . but how did you know?]


brittani c. said...

Now, I thought I was the Queen of Anti-Running. I have ran two 5k races and have not found any ounce of satisfaction from them (other than the relief that I finished them). I will take your word on "the zone" though. I must be vigilant.
As for your Web site, the design is so beautiful, I could cry. It's perfect. It's as if it were crafted from InDesign. You are quite the HTML genius...I LOVE it.

laurylaro said...

You go girl! 2 5ks is great. I love running, but why haven't I done it in years?? its so true about all those good endorphins. I have heard GOOD things about running around on trash day, you can find some awesome furniture/lamps etc to refurbish for free, just take it off the curb and use your imagination! I've been loooking at some cute "trash to treasure" and "roadkill rescue" project blogs lately and its amazing!

Gini said...

I will try kind of hard to take you up on this advice. Honest! I'll try. Kind of. REEAAAALLY easy to talk myself out of it.

Dan and Margo said...

Oh, man, I think you've inspired me to try again - I tried a few years ago but gave up - now that the weather is cooling off I may have to dust off those running shoes and charge my IPod!

Karen Thomas said...

Inspirational! Running...I love outside in the early morning, the summer sun sweeping down the mountains to the west, the squeak of the snow as I step and the eerie silence of a winter run, time to work through issues and count blessings and dream, and endorphins. I'm totally addicted, but it's still hard some mornings to walk out the door for a run. Congrats on your 5Ks!! Jedd