Monday, May 26, 2008

Obsessive Running

I'm an all or nothing gal. It's either happening or not. I'm all in or I don't want to play the game. I either love you or hate you. I'm committed or I quit. I'm 100% or 0%.

It doesn't really have to be that way. I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I can find the middle ground and find happiness there. The trick is to find out how. Easier said than done for me. One way I've been working with this concept is with my exercise program. For the past few weeks, I've been on my treadmill running. It's been great! I'm sleeping better and my body is not quite as achy as it has been. I just have to keep telling myself that if I miss a day, it's okay. If I don't feel like running "hard," it's okay. If I need (or want) to walk a little bit, it's okay.

You see, that's not quite how I've trained, ahem, exercised in the past. In the past, I had to sign up for a race to motivate myself to run. A race with Team In Training (with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society) was especially motivating because I'd be commited to all of the people who helped me raise money. If I had people asking me how running was going or how much money I'd raised, I'd certainly better keep up the training. I needed that to get up in the morning to run.

The past half-marathon I ran back in February was a bit different. I trained with a friend and my motivation was to get back into shape after having CC. She was only a few months old and I was ready to hit the pavement to try to get my body back in shape. Part of the motivation was also to get out of the house and have some alone time without having to take care of my two children and husband who was recovering from a broken hip. All of this seemed like good motivation, but the reality was that I'd get out there and start the run, but throughout the whole run, I'd be focusing on the end. The stories in my head were: I didn't want to be there, I wasn't in good enough shape for this, my side hurt, I couldn't wait to be done so I could get coffee. That last story was the most prevalent, "Just keep on going, not much longer and you can walk and enjoy a wonderful, hot non-fat latte!" It became so obsessive that I barely noticed the gorgeous landscape that I was running past. I was enjoying the conversation with my friend, but in the back of my mind I kept thinking of that latte. Lattes became my motivation.

It took a while, but I finally realized that all of these diversions weren't serving me well. What happened to running for the sake of running. Running because it made me feel good. Period. My running was competitive. I wasn't competing with anyone else, just myself. It was crazy. I noticed this and the very next run in Golden Gate Park, I tried not to obsess about lattes. (Of course, I thought of them, but only 2 or 3 times.) Everytime I found myself fantasizing about my java, I'd divert my attention to my beautiful surroundings. I noticed the trees, the other runners, the smell of the park. It was liberating. Don't get me wrong, we went out for lattes after the run, but it wasn't consuming me:)

What I'm learning through all of this is that I don't have to be obsessive about running. I don't need a race to motivate me to run. I don't need a latte at the end to motivate me to "get through it." It doesn't have to be all or nothing. It can be somewhere in between. I don't HAVE to run every day. If I skip a day, it's okay. As long as I'm true to myself,and actually get the exercise done, it'll all work out.


Natalie said...

I've been thinking about this post for a few hours now. I'm not really sure what to comment. In some ways, I understand your mental struggle and the outcome of a lot thinking on the matter. We all have things that we mentally try to readjust, get past, etc.

Yesterday, I pulled out some free-weights I bought when I was pregnant with Lila and used for the first time yesterday. Weight-training is my thing. I don't love it, but I really like it. It gets my metabolism reved up, gives me energy and I see the difference in a matter of weeks. When Matt met me, I was what he called, "diesel" Well-defined arms, legs and back. I worked hard at this. Often working out just before I went out at night so people could see that I had just worked out. A $20 box of free-weights I got at Wal-Mart is not going to give me the definition that I want and am used to from the gym. Also, I would often do cardio for 30-mins and weights for 45-mins. I do not have this kind of time as a mother. Especially here in Portugal where I cannot, for the life of me, get a day time sitter who is reasonably priced, a gym that is even more reasonbly priced and a husband who is away more than home.

Military families are SO into running. I so want to take it up. But, with a torn ACL and chronic knee pain from it, I remember the last time I tried to take up running or jogging. I could barely walk after two weeks of light jogging. I have a friend with half a platella and a torn ACL who does marathons. Why can't I run through the pain??? Also, I depsise running. I'm so a gym gal. I'm mentally trying to get past that b/c joining a gym is so not financially feaseable (read: financially stupid) and I get unmotiviated to go if I don't have a partner or can work out exactly when I want to (usually no later than 9:00am).

I digress. I guess what I'm saying is that I'm challenged on the other end. I have to make time to exercise and I need to figure out what is going to work now and just do it instead of making excuses. I'm having a really hard time (read: sloth) and I just wish that being obsessive in the way you are was more my problem.

sf mom said...

Thanks for your comment, Natalie. Please know that you don't have to leave a message to each post. (I definitely am not discouraging it, but I don't want you to think that you must.)

I find that if I get up and do it, I feel much beter. If I wait until after work, not gonna happen! Like now, I have to get dinner ready, then kids to bed, etc.

I am looking at other ways to exercise to vary up the routine. That should help with motivation too. When L was recovering from surgery, we went to the pool on Sunday mornings as a family. He worked out while I watched the kids and then we switched off. I was enjoying it. We have been talking about starting that up again.

I also have been thinking of cycling. I'm jazzed about doing it, but not jazzed about getting all of the equipment...ahem, like a bicycle:) At least with running, you get a pair of good shoes and you run. With cycling, there is so much more equipment. I have several friends who are into it, so if I get off my tush, I'll have friends to ride with. I'll let you know how that pans out.

And finally, I want to practice more yoga. Hopefully, I can find time in the schedule to get to a class every once in a while. Perhaps every 2 weeks would work as long as I can do it myself a few times a week. I took a couple of private pilates classes in the past few weeks. I enjoyed that very much too!

Weight-training is good too. I just don't make the time to get a true routine in. I'm mostly just trying to do arm and ab work. I realize that isn't the best way to do it, but alas, it is what it is!

Natalie said...

Comment junkie here. Coffee and early morning energy = long comments. I'm working on easing up on quantity of coffee...