My relationship with running.
Marathon training has taken my relationship with running to a whole new level, and suffice it to say that if I could be in a relationship with running on Facebook, it would be listed as ‘It’s complicated’. My relationship with running is complicated because sometimes it makes me so crazy, and other times it’s the only thing that keeps me sane.
As you may have noticed, my posts alternate between excited and upbeat, and whiny and unmotivated. Implicit in this is the reality that a run can have a great impact on how I feel about my day, my week, and/or myself. A bad run makes me question my abilities (never mind that I ran great yesterday, I obviously have no fitness or talent!), which makes me then question my self worth (if I’m not a good runner, what redeeming qualities do I have?). I realize as I type how irrational these thoughts are, but realizing that doesn’t mean I don’t have those thoughts, still. And it’s a hard thing to grapple with: having such negative thoughts, knowing they are toxic, and yet not being able to stop having them. Even if a bad run doesn’t send me into a self-doubting spiral, my day will have a smudge on it and my mood will reflect that.
A good run can make my mind go berserk in an totally different way: a good run can inflate my ego and allow me to convince myself that my abilities are something they aren’t. I manage to do one run that’s faster and longer than I thought possible, and all of a sudden I feel a compulsion to duplicate that run every time I step out the door. It was this type of madness that caused me to overdo it during the final weeks of my previous marathon training, meaning that my tumultuous relationship with running can go as far as to affect me physically.
So there you have it. Running makes me crazy.
On the flip side, life outside of running can be so hectic and disappointing and unpredictable that a run can also function like a lighthouse, bringing me safely back to shore after weathering an onslaught of stresses. Recently I moved into a new apartment, and my runs gave me a reprieve from my long list of things to pack and clean. I remember nothing about the runs during that week of moving except the feeling of relief they provided. I looked forward to them in a way that I haven’t for quite a while.
Dating and school tend to provide new and fresh reasons to feel anxious or disheartened on a weekly basis as well, and when my confidence is suffering on account of one of these two things, a run can give me an emotional boost. If I do poorly on an assignment, I can comfort myself by running 8 miles and thus prove that I can still do some things well. If a guy doesn’t call or doesn’t text, I can go run a 10k at 7:43 pace (ahem…hypothetically) and mentally leave his sorry ass in my dust.
I even believe that marathon training has helped me come to terms with my body because on most days, I see how strong and capable it is, rather than how not-supermodel-like it is. And this is huge, because those kinds of thoughts will definitely drive a person mad, and I’ve had enough of them to last a lifetime.
So you can also see, running keeps me sane.
In any case, my relationship with running is one of the most complex relationships I have, and like other relationships in my life, its complexity is what gives it so much value. I doubt I could ever be truly happy without running, which makes me ever more thankful that I can do it.
Tonight, I am doing one of my beloved track workouts and although it makes me nervous, I’m also very excited. I am looking forward to seeing whether or not I can run 6×800 (or possibly, 3×1600) at 6:50 pace. This will be the first track workout I’ll do without Lina (come backkkk already!), but I know we’ll be with each other spirit. The report on this workout next time.