The Lone Runner

Confession: I haven’t been running with regularity. I have awoken in the morning at my usual 6am, in my running clothes, and just didn’t wanna. So I didn’t. A friend of mine thinks it’s because I run alone, so there’s no one to motivate me. That’s not it. I like running alone. I don’t have to be ashamed of how slow I run or how heavy I’m breathing. I just run. Or walk. Or stop. Or whatever.

Today, however, I got a wild hair. Woke up this morning in the same “I don’t wanna” fashion, but kept my running clothes on…even put on my running shoes. Then, I ran a couple of errands. Well, I didn’t run them, but you get the point.

But something happened when I got home. I thought, “Let’s do this.”

Only it was 2:15pm. In South Texas. In July. Great decision.

But, when you get the wild hair, you must tame it. So, I opened my back door and started my run.

From my run today.

There’s no better way to say it – it was fucking hot. (I’m sure someone with a lesser potty mouth could have found another way to say it, but I don’t…so there.)

About halfway in, I passed a woman running. She looked just as miserable as I felt, so that made me feel better. Then, all of a sudden, she was next to me again. Her mouth was moving, but I heard no words.

I removed one ear bud.

“I am on my last lap, and I am out of steam. Can I run next to you?” she asked.

First, I was so impressed with how much she just said while running. Second, I thought, “Well, I run in intervals – run, walk, run, walk – so she can certainly run with me as long as I’m running, but then I’m walking. I’m not gonna run just ‘cause she needs me to run next to her. I’ll die.”

I got out, “Sure. Intervals.”

She understood enough to laugh, then stay next to me.

We ran next to each other for a bit. She explained how she had “been running for a few months, training for a half marathon that is coming up in November.” Did I know about it? Did I always run in the afternoons? Had I been running long? Do I have a bad knee? “Guess you do ‘cause you’re wearing a brace.”

I would nod or shake my head accordingly, while trying not to appear without breath because I’m a “runner” now, too. Seriously, how was she talking so much and running all at the same time?

Then, my app bonged and said the thing I love most, “Slow down and walk.”

I pointed to my ear and gasped out, “Time to walk.”

She smiled and said, “No problem. Thank you so much.” Then, sped off.

And by “sped off,” I mean continued at the same pace I was at moments before. Only now I was walking, so she looked like Speedy Gonzalez.

I went back to All Thoughts – which is how I run now – free thinking with a soft soundtrack playing in my ear. It suits me. I think all the things…makes me forget I’m moving my body.

I began my last interval, which meant my last running lap, when she appeared next to me again, still running. This is both the problem with and the awesomeness of the All Thoughts Running Technique – you are completely unaware of your surroundings.

Her mouth was moving again. Again, I heard no words.

I removed one ear bud.

“So, do you know if there’s a juice bar near here?” She inquired.

First, what is it with runners and juice bars? Did I not get this memo? Second, I thought, “I know every coffee shop and bar within a five-mile radius, but that’s not what she asked. Think, Molly, think. Juice bars…within a short distance…so she can get a juice.”

I managed to get out, “Whole Foods.”

She nodded, “Oh…that’s right!!!!!! They have a juice bar!!!!!!” (No, really, there were that many exclamation points in her response.) “Awesome!!!!!” She exclaimed. “I forgot all about them!!!!”

That’s a lot of exclamation for a drink with kale in it.

She continued.

As soon as she was done she was going to go over there for a juice, then take the rest of the day to “get some things done.” She had today off. The first day she’d had off in a while. Did I have the day of, too, because I was clearly in no hurry to get back to an office? Is my office around here? Is this where I always run? Do I always run in the afternoons? Did I already ask you that?

Again, nodding or shaking my head when appropriate, I started trying to use my powers of telepathy (or telekenisis…whatever) to get the app to bong….NOW. Or…NOW. Ok…NOW. Then, finally it bonged, “You have completed your run. Slow down and walk for a five-minute cool down.”

I pointed at my ear, again, and said, “I’m done. Sorry.”

She began walking with me, as I turned to walk home.

“Wanna go for a juice?” She asked.

“Umm…no. I don’t…really…drink…juices. Unless it’s in a box…or a pouch,” I replied.

She laughed. Too much. On occasion, I’m funny. Not that funny.

“So,” I said, trying to disconnect, “have fun at Whole Foods.”

“You sure you don’t want to come with me? After a long run, it’s good to keep your metabolism up by drinking or eating something. You can get something with banana in it.”

I don’t know what was happening. Why would I wanna drink a banana?

“Nope. Thanks,” I said as nicely as possible.

Then it happened…

“Look. I’m trying to ask you out,” she said.

What??!?! I live in South Texas. In a rather conservative neighborhood. You don’t just ask a girl out, after co-opting her run. Ask her out for juice, no less.

“Umm…thank you. But…”

“But you’re seeing someone?”

I can’t lie. I’m a great liar, but only in dire situations.

“No. I’m just not interested,” I said, but quickly added, “In juice.” I’m not mean…just not a liar. “And I’m exhausted from running. But thank you.”

“OK…well, I could get your number. We could meet here again.”

“Oh,” I said, “I run alone.”

And with that I took off running home, which means, I’m on the hunt for a new running route. Awesome.

A Fake Runner’s Experience

There are things that one does not know when one begins running to get healthy. OK…there’s stuff I didn’t know. And, I feel that one of the things that running has taught me is to share my experiences…if only in an effort to make you less likely to fail at running should you want to take it up. Or to scare you from starting in the first place.

  1. You will spend the vast amount of your run with a wedgie. It’s not something I’m excited about. I’m already concentrating on just keeping my feet moving and not falling on my face…now I have to remove underwear from my crack? Not OK. It’s like walking and chewing gum, but on crack (yep…that joke was just made). You could go, I guess, sans underwear, but then you’ll be dealing with other things that I don’t care to discuss like vagina chafing (yep…I just typed that).
  2. Shin splints are inevitable. I remember using “shin splints” as my excuse in high school soccer to get out of running long distances. “Oh, sorry, Coach, I’ve got shin splints. Guess I won’t be running today. Or ever.” Coach Torno, I now plead with you to give me an excuse to get out of life. Walking hurts.
  3. Interval training will kick your ass. Seriously, going from walking to running, then back again is harder than you might think. But, then again, just when you think your run is going to kill you, the little man on the app says, “Slow down and walk,” and there’s a moment where you think, “Holy crap! The universe DOES love me.” PS. I’m doing a 5K app that is helping me have purpose when running.
  4. A bad knee means a sexy knee brace. If you have bad knees, perhaps running is not the best idea…but then again, if you have bad knees, maybe you should never exercise. Ever. Also, automatically a bad knee makes you 412 years old.
  5. Kilometers are way more awesome than miles. Do you know how disappointing it was to discover that I was running 3.07 kilometers instead of 3.07 miles? (For reference, 3.07 kilometers is nearly 2 miles, but it ain’t 3.) In other news, I CAN RUN 3.07 KILOMETERS, SUCKAS! Well, I run/walk. Remember, I’m on interval training.
  6. Stretching is important, although not important enough that I remember to do it without a reminder from an app. That is all.
  7. Getting out of bed is the first step. Seriously, if you can get the sleep out of your eyes and put your feet on the floor, you have made the first step to actually opening the door to go running. Which leads me to the final thing you should know…
  8. Sleep in your running clothes. This gives me one less excuse to get out of bed and go running: “But I don’t think anything is clean.” “But where in the pile of laundry is my sports bra?” “Do I actually have clean shorts?” I’m already in them. Roll out of bed, put on your shoes, and go, Loser Slacker Excuse-Maker.

For reference, I still don’t feel like a runner. To be fair, I don’t know what a runner feels like (insert awkward, dirty joke here). I feel better after I run, but I still have trouble getting started. I have stuck with it for more time than I ever thought, but more to prove everybody that thought I wouldn’t wrong. I do have a 5K on the calendar, but it’s a friend’s 5K not a competitive 5K. Also, yes, I have a friend that asked to run a 5K for her 40th birthday, so we’re putting one on for her. I’m seriously questioning her love for her friends…and her sanity.

I will continue to put one foot in front of the other and try not fall on my face…in life, in running.

Running Away. Running To. Or Just Running.

I began running for physical and mental reasons.

While I won’t bore you with the details of each, I will say that when a 20-something tells me now, “I don’t know why I never gain weight…I guess it’s just my metabolism,” I want to flick her in the noggin’. I was that 20-something. And, for that, my older friends, I apologize.

Now, in my mid-thirties, there has been a change. Don’t get me wrong, my dad left me with some amazing genes, but there’s been a slow change. I don’t need to describe it. If you’re in your mid-thirties or older, you know what I’m talking about, and if you’re younger than that, you won’t listen anyway.

As for the mental piece, let’s just say, I find that most runners (or worker-outers, in general) are happy…at least outwardly. There must be something about the endorphins or whatever, but I find healthy people are both annoyingly happy and centered. I could use a healthy dose of that.

I started running three weeks ago – June 11th(ish), 2012 to be exact. When I decided to start running, I created several rules:

1.    I would try to run every weekday.

If I didn’t feel like it, that was OK, but I would try to get some kind of physical activity in every day of the work week. I would save the weekends for an “If I Felt Like It” run ’cause, really, Saturdays are for catching up on stuff, and Sundays are for SVU Marathons. To be fair, I’ve never felt like running on the weekends.

2.    I would never run because I “have to.”

When something becomes a “have to” it becomes less enjoyable. And I know there are some things you just have to do like…umm…shower – what a pain in the ass that is when you’re busy.

3.    I would not become a “runner.”

I don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on shoes and wear spandex onesies.  I don’t wanna. I’m not gonna talk about my endorphins or go on vacation and run along beaches. Good for you if you’re that person, but I’m not. And, quite frankly, I’m not running to become that person. I want to go on vacation and drink margaritas on beaches. Like Forrest Gump, I just felt like running. And, to be honest, it’s because I’m too lazy to get in a car and go to a gym.

My non-expensive “running” shoes.

Three weeks in, here are my lessons learned:

1.    I don’t like running.

There. I said it. I don’t. It seems uneventful and anticlimactic. I open my door. I run. I come home.

I need to run away from something or run to something. Clearly someone needs to hide rewards along my running trail – like cheese or chocolate. Or someone needs to chase me dressed as a monster.  This is why running in a timed running thing, like a 5K, will give me purpose – I’m working up to this.

2.    Music doesn’t work for me.

I began running to songs – an excellent suggestion by an excellent runner friend. “Start by running for two songs, then work your way up.”

The first day I ran, I ran for two songs. I ended up winded and away from my home gasping for air, and then I had to walk home. Not OK. Plus, I feel music in every fiber of my being. So, a good song has me more run/dancing than just running. I know, it’s still “running,” but my neighbors already think I’m odd, let’s not give them running while doing the Thriller dance, too.

Another runner friend told me she runs to podcasts. Smart. Podcasts come in timed intervals, so I could download a 30-minute one or an hour one. What??! I’m not even running for 30 minutes yet!!! And if I have to run for an hour, I should just get in a car.

Silence isn’t ok ‘cause I think about the things I should be doing rather than running: completing work, cleaning my house, going to the grocery store, getting my dogs’ nails trimmed. Running and making lists is no fun. Now I’m gasping for air because of the run and anxiety. Awesome.

I am now using an app that helps me train for a 5K. Again, purpose.

3.    Celebrating small victories is important.

I’m running about two miles now. The first mile is easy; the second mile hurts my soul. I’m not fast. I have no technique. But as of three weeks ago, I didn’t even run in the rain to my car, so the fact that I’m running two miles is awesome. In other small victory news:

  • With the exception of three days in three weeks, I have gone running. And on those three days, I played Just Dance 3, so I was still moving.
  • I’ve lost three pounds. I truly didn’t start doing this to lose weight, but it doesn’t hurt.
  • I have more energy and feel less tired.
  • It gets me out of bed in the morning to do more than just check Facebook and drink coffee.
  • I’m drinking more water, which can only be a good thing.
  • I feel creative and am writing more. Maybe I can’t attribute this completely to running, but I write every day post-run, so I’m gonna.

Look, I’m not a runner. I’m never gonna tell somebody to take up running – it’s boring (sorry, runners). I will, however, tell you that simply moving more has made me feel better. And, for that, I am grateful.

In other news, it also makes it easier to consume my favorite diet of cheese and bread and allows my 30-something-year-old body to catch up. And, really, guilt-free cheese makes it all worth while.