Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Life is Not Lived From the Couch

I have a very short attention span. I am hyperactive. I thrive in chaos but function best with structure and rules. I despise boredom. I once worked a part time job after my full time career because I was bored. I need stimuli. I need be social and engaged. I love lists. Without a million things to do, I will do nothing. Doing nothing makes me anxious. 

My un-diagnosed ADHD combines with a powerful thirst for life to form my current philosophy: Life is not lived from the couch. Our eyes were are meant to stare at screens all day. Our bodies are meant to move. Forward. Sideways. Backward. Up. Down. Around. Moving. Breathing. Sweating. In motion. I have legs for moving. I have a brain for learning and thinking. My thighs are not this large to cover more area on a cushion.  My lungs are meant to be filled with fresh air. I do not believe in television. I watch television. I laugh at the jokes. I respect entertainment as an art form (except for reality tv). I learn from news and documentaries and empathize with special features. TV entertains me, however, it does not define me or my day. 

I love sleeping. I'm really good at it. Sleep rejuvenates our bodies and souls. It allows us to dream and let our minds escape. But life is real and waiting. Sleep til you're rested. Live til you're exhausted. We were not given days to sleep away. There is always a reason to get up. I assault my alarm multiple times and do not 'wake up' until a full cup of coffee. I am not a morning person. But, I get up because I cannot make my dreams into reality if I'm still in bed. Life will not happen if I'm not participating. And to me, participating is not watching tv for hours or sleeping through the day.

There are things to do; miles to run, sweat to sweat, smiles to smile, skills to practice, conversations to have, laughs to laugh, ideas to discuss, lessons to learn, lives to live. Those things simply can not be done with your brain turned off while laugh tracks and written scripts dictate your experience. 

I realize television is a strong part of this American life. Some people can watch hours of television. Some people come home from work and watch television and are happy. I am not one of those people. I'm usually annoyed or angry after about two hours of prime time television (with the exception of Phillies baseball, unless Joe Buck or any other national media sportscaster is calling the game--then I'm annoyed again). 

Life is not lived from a couch. Turn off the tv. Go for a walk. Create something. Play a game. Shake a booty. Push your body out of it's comfort zone and be amazed at the results. But don't watch others do so from the magic plastic box in your living room. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Righteous Runner Tribute to the Righteous Boyfriends/significant Others of Runners

It was a quiet Sunday evening. Scott and I were settling in on the couch for an evening of watching Lost episodes. I had run 15 miles that morning as part of my training for my marathon and was sore and tired. My feet were swollen and tender from three hours of pavement pounding but the worst was the pressure and pain underneath my toenails.This is called runner's toes and it is caused by damage to the nail bed either by the shoe or sock. It is  very common among runners.  As Scott was about to turn on season five, episode 3, I muster all my strength and roll to a standing position.

"Hold on. I've gotta go rip off this toenail," I say, hobbling towards the bathroom.
"Awww! Gross! Was that necessary!" Scott hollers. I turn to see him shaking his head and doing that finger biting thing. I'm back in five minutes and attempt to resume my cuddle spot, but not without a little teasing.

"Hey, look at this!"
"Think I can get a discount on a pedicure now since I only have nine toenails?"
"That little pig did not cry wee wee wee all the way home. It got hit by a bus."

For some reason, Scott is not amused. He's actually quite freaked out. Why? It's not ok for your girlfriend to rip toenails off and then laugh about it? It's not cute?

Poor Scott. He's been woken up to come pick me up from various spots all over Bucks County at the precise mile I've decided to be done running.  He's learned to come with a towel, flip flops, clean t-shirt, and cold bottle of water. He also keeps the windows down no matter what the weather. I'm pretty sure if his banged-up foot hadn't slowed him down, he would have hidden when my runny buddy Lauren and I returned from our triumphant 17 mile run Sunday morning.  I have no idea why he wouldn't hug me until I after a shower.

Scott, welcome to the world of having a runner girlfriend. For when you have a runner girlfriend, things are different. What runners think of as perfectly acceptable behaviors can come across as disgusting and frightening to those not in the know. It takes a good man to tolerate our demanding training schedules and some of the unflattering side effects of running. Marathon training requires a lot of dedication and commitment not just of the runner but of their significant other. But, the boyfriends of girl runners (or the girl friends of boy runners) know that those disgusting, stinky, sweaty moments when we are red and puffy, the hours of stretching, icing, whining, the small fortune in sports bras and race fees, the early morning wake ups, will all add up to one of our best moments---crossing those finish lines. There will be smiles  that can't be beat and a feeling of pride and satisfaction that will, I promise, make those quiet nights on the couch instead of a bar and bruised toe nails more than worth it.

So, lets raise our water bottles  and do a Shot block to the guys who stand idly on the finish line as we strive for PRs and paces

  • who understand what a PR is and why it's important.
  • who drive us to all over this green Earth at disgraceful hours of the morning.
  • who will make as many stops at as many gas stations as needed en route to a race--again, without judgement.
  • who wait while we run.
  • who endure snooze buttons and multiple alarms throughout the weekdays.
  • who do not judge when we order appetizers, main course and dessert at dinner and clear the plates in record time.
  • who buy breakfast after a morning run.
  • who hang our medal racks.
  • who ensure our bibs are on straight.
  • who take goofy photos (or, if you're my boyfriend, multiple photos of my butt while I'm not looking).
  • who join us for a mile or two even if they hate running.
  • who do not get why the Shot block joke was funny but pretend to laugh anyway.
  • who are now running experts  from listening to their girlfriends go on and on and on about this sport.
Any  runners out there who (actually read this silly blog!) want to give a shout out to their significant other? Let 'em know you care by commenting on this never-read blog. It's almost as symbolic as letting them hold your gear bag. :-) 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Righteous Runner's School of Running

A few weeks ago, I did this:

I registered for the 2011 Philadelphia Marathon. And by doing so it meant that I had committed, or at least paid to, run 26.2 miles through my home city. Crap. Crappity crap crap.
And so I find myself training for a marathon.

Training for a marathon. Those four words are no joke. Marathon training is no joke and I'm only a few weeks into it. While I've trained for and run nine half marathons in the past two years, I find myself at a loss and just as overwhelmed as I did when I first started running three years ago. My painful and slow 14 mile run felt just as challenging and rewarding as the first seven mile run I had ever done. I'm gearing up mentally for a sure-to-be-interesting 15 mile run this weekend and reveling in the completion of my 15 page thesis paper and thus the official end to my graduate school career. These two events (15 mile training run and 15 page paper) seem to have nothing in common except for the number 15 but they are very similar. When you decide to go to school part time while working full time, you have to be committed. And when you decide to train for a marathon, you have to be committed. And you can't go to graduate school unless you went to undergraduate school and you can't do that unless you went to high school school and you can't do that unless you went to grammar school. Both are the accumulations of many goals that are depended on skills and lessons learned on each level.

Marathon training takes everything to a new level. There is a reason that few people go from a C25K program directly to a marathon. It would be like going from kindergarten to college. There are things you have to learn along the way in order to succeed.

5Ks, 10Ks, and halves give runners the lessons and tools they need to smartly train for a marathon.

5ks teach us that running is fun and rewarding. Reading is fun and rewarding. 5ks are the elementary school in the School of Running. You learn the basics like the joy of comfortable shoes, eating better, pushing yourself, the importance of stretching, sweat is good, pacing, etc. It's multiplication tables, vocab, spelling tests and writing.

10ks teach us that running is fun, rewarding and we can do twice as much as we thought. We learn about nutrition, fuel, wick-away gear, injuries,dehydration, goal times, hills, PRs. It's about expanding on the skills you've already learned and building them into traits. This is where some student's talents or strengths are discovered. Here I learned I that I'm not a fast runner, but I'm good at endurance. Some may discover the 5 and 10K are great for running really fast for a while but can't hold it for too long.10ks are the middle school of School of Running.

Half marathons are high school. You're confident in your skills and have a genuine interest in running. The finish line at the end of 13.1 miles is like the diploma. Training is more intense, results matter more, but there is still room for play and growth. It's an achievement and sometimes you move on to bigger and better things.

Enter the Marathon. Marathon = college. It's intense. You're gone for long periods of time. If you don't understand how to stay hydrated on a long run, you will struggle; just like you'll struggle if you never learned how to draft a thesis essay in high school and have a research writing class in college. There are skills and lessons that are expected to have been acquired at this point. You should know to stretch thoroughly and how to use a foam roller at this point. The training plan is like your syllabus. Half marathon training should have taught you what you, as a runner, need to do to have a good or bad run. High school should have taught students how to study, organize and thrive in college. There is still room for play but you have to work harder to get it.

Good news is that it doesn't have to take 13 years to go from kindergarten to Marathon University in the School of Running. It just takes time, growth, patience, determination and drive. I'm thinking there are a lot more parallels between school and running. X-crossing is like homework; bibs are like final exams, medals could be the honor roll...I could keep going.

How about you? Are you a beginning student in the school of running or have you earned your Master's in marathoning? How do the principles of education come into your running world?