Guest blog: “I hate Running”

“The thing that I love the most”

Emily, aka “RobotLeggs”

I recently came across an article entitled, I Hate Running, which resonated with me on a level I didn’t expect it to. It inspired me to further examine what I also love and hate about the thing that I love the most: running.

It really is a relationship in and of itself. Running is a thing or a hobby or an obsession or whatever you want to call it, that millions of people have a relationship with. Like most relationships, it has its peaks, valleys, and all the stages in between. If you’re lucky, it gives back what you put in. Some days it’s easy, some days it’s damn hard. Some days, reality matches your hopes and expectations. Some days, you want to quit before you even start. Running, for me, encapsulates how I want to approach life – by really being alive and experiencing, accepting, and appreciating it for what it is each day, whether it presents itself through love or hate.

Sometimes, thoughts and feelings of love and hate flow through my body simultaneously, as if they’re in an epic battle to see whether the other will back down and give up. Those are the most defining moments, those moments when you’re right on the edge of your physical, emotional, and mental pain threshold… and you want to quit. But you know that this is where growth happens. This is when all your best – or your worst – qualities surface: either your perseverance, courage and grit; or your fear, lack of confidence, and self-deprecating monologues. As it is in running, it is in life.

Thank you, Emily for this great blog.  You really capture the way I feel about running and how, just as in life, it can be simultaneously challenging and totally rewarding. 

You’ve got this!

It’s so freaking easy to get discouraged.  Here we are in late January and, for many, that New Years gym membership is already getting dusty.  The new bike is hanging safely from the garage ceiling.   We’ve started eating sweets again, or whatever.  

For some, you’re on the she and getting closer to tipping over.  Not sure how much longer you can hang on.  

I have a message for both groups. “It’s not too late, you aren’t beaten, don’t give up!”

Maybe the change is being super stubborn.  Maybe you’ll have to tweak some things and try again. Maybe you’ll need to do something completely different.  But. Don’t.  Give. Up!

Your new attitude is “I’m going to have a healthy lifestyle even if I don’t see improvement!”  You won’t always have motivation or the will to follow through but giving up is just something you don’t do.  You get back up, you dust yourself off, you try again.  You will accept yourself where you are and keep doing the work to get you to where you want to be, he’ll or high-water. 

Trust me.  Relentless forward progress will yield results.  I promise. 

You’ve got this!

Something something time-management

It’s a subject that has bubbled to the surface for me lately, but I don’t want to think about it.  It’s like going on a diet, only, instead of being an authoritarian asshole with what you eat and how much you eat, you have to be an authoritarian asshole with what you do and how much time you spend doing it.  

Nobody likes that asshole. 

I want to just gloss over it and not really think about it; thus the title of this article.  It isn’t that I’m indifferent, it’s that I’m scared of what my life will look like when I stop escaping.  I’m scared of how it will feel when I don’t buffer anymore?

I’m thinking the long-term reward will outweigh the short-term relief. What do you think?  Do you buffer too, and in what ways? 

The measure of ourselves 

More than almost anything, we want to know ourselves.  We judge ourselves, sometimes too highly, but most often, too harshly.  Whether our self-assessments are kind or unkind, they are a barometer of sorts to where we are and where we want to be. 

We adjust accordingly. 

Racing does that for runners.  You can learn a lot of things about yourself by running or walking a race.  Beyond the unique experience of actually participating, you can learn and play with strategies like going out fast and hanging on or trying to stay steady and even throughout your time on the course.  You can begin to get an idea what a mile feels like.  When you run a timed race, you get a time against which you can compete at the next race.  If that race is down the road, it can give you a really good idea how well your body is responding to the training schedule you’re on. (Adjust if necessary). Maybe you actually went too hard and had a scowl on your face as you crossed the line – run slower next time. 

It goes deeper than that too.  You find out something about your mental game and how you might have psyched yourself out of a better performance.  

The list goes on and on.  What are some other things you think about and learn when your walking or running?

Every single dog that barks!

So, disclaimer.  I’m not into animal cruelty at all.  I love dogs.  This is just an analogy, and, as anyone knows, analogies are never perfect.

Have you ever heard the following phrase?

Don’t throw stones at every dog that barks!

Of course, you should never throw rocks at dogs.  They’re usually just trying to protect their territory or they’re just as scared as you are, so they bark and fuss and carry on.  But the phrase has nothing to do with animal cruelty or normalizing the act of throwing rocks at dogs.  This phrase is about something else entirely – and as it may be a holdover from an era where throwing rocks at dogs was somehow acceptable, I still think with the proper caveats, we can still learn from it.

Talking to my aunt Charlotte about all my plans, with the group, with training, with everything – I mentioned that I was working on getting certified in Personal Training through the NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine).   She didn’t hesitate to say, ‘do you really need that or are you just throwing an obstacle in front of yourself for no reason at all?’.  I mean, she was basically asking if I really needed to stop and throw rocks at that dog?

Along this same line, I ran across a video or motivational meme recently that indicated that if you keep waiting until you’re ready, you’ll never start!  That’s pretty amazing.  It went on to say, start before you’re ready.

Devin Loetscher (‘lurcher’) once told our group – “If it doesn’t scare the hell out of you, it isn’t worth doing!”

So, you can’t just go on leading your OWN beginner 5k group.. aaaaand queue the excuses;

  • you haven’t even run a 5k
  • you’ve never taught anyone anything (false, btw)
  • you aren’t certified to coach
  • you don’t have time for this
  • no one will listen to you, like you, love you.
  • no one will take you seriously

Those are all dogs barking in one particular field – leading and coaching a 5k group.  But what about life?  What about all the other things you sell yourself short on?   What if those are just dogs that are barking and..

..you should just do it, anyway?

The Running Shop (Pt 2)

Running with MS

Francisco had ordered a pair of the New Balance Minimus trail shoes; the T10 v4.  We joked a little about how popular this release was because it finally went back to the original design everyone loved.  That shoe created quite a following.

 

Francisco has MS and he’s a runner.  Someday, that won’t be the case, but for now he can still find joy there and he does.  His gait is such, that his left foot swings through a little low and the tread beneath that toe wears out really fast – even with the Vibram outsole. He wondered if there was anything he could do about that and we kicked around some ideas.

After he left, I went to the running subreddit and asked the same question he had asked me, and I wanted to share some of the responses here;

“I like the trail shoe idea. My suggestion is if the shoes are not worn out find a product like Shoe-Goo to build up the tread so it takes longer to wear down. I used to build up my treads with this to get longer life from my shoes.” ~ /u/amh_library

That’s a really great suggestion that I’ll remember.

“This may sound like a stupid idea, but here goes. Occasionally companies will help out people with special needs, perhaps such as needing more left shoes. Maybe you could reach out to the suppliers, explain the situation and see if maybe they can either sell single left shoes for him or even provide them? It’s probably a stretch, but if it makes them look good then they might consider it.” ~ /u/CatLadyTheSecond

This will require some follow up but if the worse they can say is “No”, then it’s totally worth it.  I should have the contact information to actually get this request to the right person.

“Somewhat of a side note, you should look up Kayla Montgomery. MS pt with amazing running story, though I’m not sure about what shoes she used, might be worth looking into” ~ /u/YogiMooseTX

This one got me choked up a bit.  I’ve seen it before, but it really hits hard each time. I was pretty much blown away by Francisco and Kayla’s story broke my heart in a good way.  It’s the spirit that gets this huge setback and doesn’t quit.. that has a certain demise on the horizon, a degenerative disease like MS where people slowly lose functionality going from wheel-chairs, to beds, ventilators, feeding tubes and finally death… all of this staring a person in the face and still they run.  Right up to the edge, each time.

I really loved one phrase that I think sums up a lot of this tenacity;

“As time goes on, I get back up” ~ Kayla

No matter what, get back up and try again to push against the impossible.

The Running Shop

Part I: Mark

I want to tell you about two different customers.   They illustrate only one facet of why I love working at a specialty shoe store; the new- or non-runners that come in for shoes, and the stories they tell.

The first one is Mark.   He and his wife (it was actually his sister) came in not long after lunch. He was overweight and seemed  to be almost defensive being in a ‘running’ store.   He needed a wide shoe, a walking shoe, and a high-volume shoe.  Now, I like my customers. Almost as a rule, I really enjoy helping people.  My M.O. is that everyone has a story and when they step into the Running Shop, their story has somehow over-lapped with running/walking shoes; and with me.  I want to hear all about it.

As I talked to Mark, I found out that he was diabetic.  While his fore-foot needed lots of space for his toes and metatarcels to splay out naturally, he also wanted his heel to lock on and not slip.  Those were his criteria.   Of course, one could just be aggressive with a heel-lock to fasten the shoe to his heel, but if you went too tight, you could restrict already poor circulation in the foot.

As we tried on shoes, we got closer and closer to something that met his criteria and was also comfortable.  I learned from his feedback and was able to get a better idea of what  he was looking for in the categories that we were working in.  He tried on the last shoe I brought out and he did something with it that I hadn’t seen him do before.  He actually jogged across the floor.  All the rest of the shoes only got a walking treatment, but these? He actually moved forward in a jogging fashion – and it effected me profoundly.

Why it didn’t cross my mind that he might want to tackle his diabetes through dieting or losing weight, I have no idea, but it shames me to admit that he might actually be willing to exercise, grasping at something foreign and unfamiliar like purposeful exercise, to push back the clock a little bit.   For a brief moment, I weighed what it might mean to my group (“Destination YOU!” – facebook group) if he were to join.  Would there be anyone that he could run with?  Was week 3 too late for him? Would he even be interested?

Then,  I decided to ask him.

Mark is one of those people who have taken a principled stand against Facebook.  When I asked him if he had an account, he responded, “Facebook will steal your soul”.  While I wasn’t going to argue that point, it’s fair to say that my first attempt to bring him in to Destination YOU! was shot down and stomped on.

Still, I told him all about it and I swear he even seemed interested.

It occurs to me that running a 5k might be a suggestion for some that would otherwise NEVER cross their mind.  That was certainly the case with me – I remember being elated after running a solid mile for the first time since high-school.  Running a 5k, for some people, is literally the effort-equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest, breaking the world record for the mile, or swimming from the Florida Keys to Cuba.

This isn’t hyperbole.  For a brief moment, I think Mark was confronted with something completely outside of who he knows himself to be and, in the space between, he considered it for the first time in his life before the waves of doubt and habit drowned the light of opportunity and dreams in the usual, comfortable darkness.

Do not be so quick to dismiss the great thoughts that occur to you; life, the present and tomorrow are ripe and full of promise – but you have to think bigger.