30 April 2010

I, Snickollet, am a runner.

Talk about something I never thought I'd say. And this is the story of how running became part of my identity.

I was a totally unathletic kid. Team sports still baffle me (as a player, at least, although I now quite enjoy being a spectator at team events). I had never worked out regularly in my life until I moved to Boston at the age of 27 and my best friend joined the Y and I thought, "Why not?" and I joined, too.

I wouldn't say that joining the Y got me hooked on exercising. I am, quite simply, a creature of habit who is prone to guilt, and once I regularly started doing something that I knew was good for me, I would feel guilty for not going. I'm also competitive, and athletic pursuits are perfect for pushing oneself harder. You can always be faster, work out for longer, try something new. I never loved going to the gym—still don't—but I'm supposed to and I beat myself up if I don't and so there you have it.

Yes, there is an element of this that is obsessive and mentally unhealthy. Sssssh, la la la, I don't hear you.

After a few years of doing classes, machines, and weights at the Y, I was getting bored. Really bored. The idea of getting on an elliptical machine made me want to fork myself in the eyes. The one cardio pursuit I had yet to try was running. The treadmill was my kryptonite. I abhored the very idea of running.

I also abhored the idea of forking out my own eyes.

So I got on the damn treadmill already, and I started to run. I still didn't love it, but I did love the goal-oriented nature of it and the stats I could gather. I could be motivated by time or distance, or a combination of the two. I started running outside, and appreciated the efficiency of getting in a workout without going to the gym. I loved what running did to my body; it's certainly the most effective whole-body workout I've found to date.

I wish I could tell you that I loved the "runner's high," but at that point, I found that I rarely experienced that. I was proud of what my body could do and I got the endorphin-rich feeling that any workout brought me, but I didn't find running to be different in that respect.

Back in the day, which was prekids and precancer, I ran 25 to 30 miles a week and was training for a half marathon. Then John got sick and my life changed and I never got back to running that much, then I had the twins and then and then and then.

But I've been slowly easing back into it since Maddie and Riley were born. I was running two to three times a week when we lived in Boston, either with them in the jog stroller after work or with a friend before work when we lived with CV and I could run before the kids got up for the day. Then when I got to Portland, I found that many of my coworkers at Reed were runners, and I started running with them at lunch. I've been back to regular running for almost a year now, although my mileage is not what it was lo so many years ago. Now I do 12 or so miles total over three to four weekly runs.

While I may not be doing as much running as I used to, what I get out of running is now different. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't still goal-oriented—I've got a half-marathon in my sights and I've been working towards my prekids pace for a while now—but I find that I need to run in a way I didn't before. I still don't get the high, but I definitely get a lot of stress relief and improved energy. And while I prefer to run with company, I end up doing a fair amount of solo workouts, which give me a lot of time to think and work through things. I used to have a lot of a-ha! moments in the shower; now I have them while logging miles. I notice a huge negative swing in my attitude and general demeanor when I don't get out a few times a week. Most days now I actively crave getting out for a run, and even on the days I lack the desire, I'm never sorry I went.

And so it came to pass, another one of the unimagined things that has become a part of my life, another thing for which I am grateful.

16 comments:

Shannon said...

I totally get it, I started running 2 years ago and moved along to doing a marathon in Dec. The feeling of always challenging myself is what I love, along with finally reclaiming my body after 3 kids. I'm with you, I don't always want to run, but I am never sorry I went. A bad run is a million times better than no run.

MDT said...

This post really resonated with me. I started running after a miscarriage a couple years ago (per Doctor Mama's orders). I didn't particularly enjoy it but it gave me something productive to focus all of my anger and sadness and confusion on. It put me back in control of my body.

Then I had to move to school and I missed a day of running, then a week, and pretty soon I realized it just wasn't going to happen.

In theory I would love to start again, to lose a couple pounds and regain some of that feeling of control. I just can't seem to find the motivation, especially because I never really enjoyed the act of running. But good on you, lady. You are inspiring!

Grace said...

Good luck! I'm totally with you. I ran, and LOVED to run pre-baby, but now, it's more of a chore. (And kiddo is two and a half!) These days I run because...well, I run because I used to love to run. I keep hoping that one day soon, the "runner's high" will kick back in. For now, I'm a plodding machine. Hang in there!

A. said...

It's great you have found something that is such a release for you (and healthy, too!). I'm trying to get to the point of considering myself a runner - not there yet, but I've signed up for a marathon relay (~6 miles for my leg), and I'm hoping by the time I run it I will feel like one! I do all my runs alone, and it's definitely a good way to ponder and/or zone out, whatever the day calls for.

Watercolor said...

Cool!!! I used to fitness walk and am trying to get back into it. The stats are soooo motivating, lol.

Unrelated.... Fairly Sar's blog is now protected. I missed reading for a bit so don't know what happened. If you could, please pass along my message? I'd love to keep reading if that's possible. I'm not a troll. :) I use this same log in on her page so she can get to my email through my comments there, too. If that's reasonable... and it may not be.... I just miss her wit and thought I'd try. :/

jaycosnett said...

I haven't run since trying--and failing--to do cross-country in high school when I was 15, but I have recently started to really enjoy energetic walks. I started doing them at lunch, especially after Julie got sick--iPod, skip the sad songs (or not), cover some ground and pick up a food cart lunch on the way back to the office. It quickly got to where I was down-right pissy if a meeting or other work-thing meant I couldn't go on my pdxlunchwalk! Now, working part-time, I do it much less frequently, and I don't like that. Not. One. Little. Bit. So, thanks for the reminder of why it is such a good thing!

Lady Mama said...

I just purchased a book, Chi Running. Have you heard of it? Two people, separately, gave me an incredible "life-changing" review of the book so I bought it. I'm not far in but it is amazing. I urge you to explore it, and if you like, share your thoughts.

Snickollet said...

@Lady Mama:

So interesting that you mention Chi Running. I've recently reconnected with someone who is a devotee of that book and methodology, and I've been meaning to get a copy. You just gave me another reason to do so.

-snickollet

abernier said...

Hey that's great! I recently started to run again ... IN THE SNOW! IN WINTER! IT WAS CRAZY! AND FANTASTIC! I too have twins, and I never thought I'd do that kind of workout again. Then a friend who was training for a half marathon came to visit in December, and next thing I knew, we were running outside, down to the river and through the park. Here's the key for me: my brain neurons need the exposure to trees and semi-wild spaces, and my knees appreciate the sponginess of woods running. I have a shepherd mix that I take with me, so it's not scary. And then, in March, a lifedream came true - my 8 year old daughter went running with me - she's fast and I'm slow, and it was SO WONDERFUL! So congratulations for starting again!

BiancaW said...

Now I wish I had packed my running gear!! I also wish I could get to a point where it was a little bit easier - I am over weight, and unfit - so it's really, really hard!

serenity said...

Me too. I just discovered everything good about running that you have (though I have found the runner's high, every once in a while).

For me it's the CRAVING for a run that defines me as a runner. If I don't run, I'm climbing the walls or moping about or just generally snippy and stressed.

xxx

Lee C. Thomas said...

Wish we lived closer so we could run together. I could use a running buddy to push me.

Magpie said...

I recently started the Couch to 5K - and, while I'm not seeing huge results, I am feeling really good about doing it. I should have gone out this morning, but it was raining...

Hawkeye said...

I just started working out myself - running. Running is the best thing I've found for my entire body too - I kept nodding and agreeing with every word you wrote today. Thank you so much for this - I am a runner too, and when I say/type those words I am still surprised everytime.

Quick question - how do you run on your lunch break? Are there showers available at your work? I would love to "get it over with" at lunch instead of after work, but being sweaty all day is not something I enjoy!

OTRgirl said...

What's funny to me is that I saw the title and avoided reading this post for a couple of days. I've been needing more exercise for a while now and avoiding it.

Having read it though, it IS a good reminder of how running or pilates makes me feel. Now I just have to figure out where I hid my motivation

Anonymous said...

You, Snickollet, aren't blogging enough!