Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Running to Stand Still

I asked my little sister, Valerie, to write a piece for my blog and what she wrote is wonderful. It is about running, but also about so much more - namely, putting ourselves at the top of that priority list we all maintain. Many of us would never think of not fulfilling a commitment to someone else, but we find it all too easy to not fulfill the obligations we have with our own best interests...

“And so she woke up
Woke up from where she was lyin’ still.
Said I gotta do something
About where we’re goin’.

Step on a fast train
Step out of the driving rain, maybe
Run from the darkness in the night.
Singing ah, ah la la la de day
Ah la la la de day….

She’s running to stand still…”

I have an addiction, obsession, whatever you want to call it, love for running. I have not been running long, not years, not months; 3 weeks and 2 days to be exact. Can you become addicted to something so quickly and is it the running I am addicted to or something else?

My running journey started one year ago, when I left the YMCA. I left because my 3rd child, who was 18 months old at the time, hated the babysitting there and I was paying too much for my twice monthly visits. I left with the hope that I would exercise at home, take walks around the block with my children and dogs, turn on an exercise DVD, or clean a little more, that’s exercise, right? I need exercise, it’s good for me, gets that heart pumping, keeps that blood sugar in range (important for an insulin dependent diabetic), possibly extend my quality and quantity of life. I kept telling myself these things, yet the right exercise was nowhere to be found. I will admit, I am a bit picky.

Finally, I found it. I read a post from Heather regarding the running program she had used when she started running. It seemed rather simple: walk for 6 minutes, jog for 1, repeat 3 times, do 3 sessions in 1 week and follow plans for the next 7 weeks, gradually increasing running time. I really didn’t look past week 2; did I think I wouldn’t last that long or did I refuse to see that eventually you would be running more than walking? I had a new goal, I was going to run and work toward a 5K. Only problem was, it was mid January, too late for a New Year’s resolution and too darn cold for me to drag myself out of the warm covers.

Good news. A friend of mine found a gym that I could join with her for three months and pay sixty dollars. I did the math, twenty dollars a month, if I go five times a month, that’s four dollars a workout or better yet, ten times at two dollars, I could do that. By the time the membership was up it would be May, perfect weather to start running. I signed on the dotted line on a Saturday, by Monday the place was closed due to not paying rent. I took this as a sign, possibly, some higher being really did not want me to exercise (I know, that thought seems really silly, but the excuses I will come up with). I stored my brand new shoes in the closet.

Time passed, I decided to not listen to the higher being and begin working out at home. I received Zumba for the Wii at Christmas time. It was time to give it a try. I shook my hips, got in the groove and worked up a sweat. I figured I could wake up early and do this, or, Zumba while my two year old napped. It all went sour when my six year old decided it was fun to wake up early and watch mom do Zumba. I really did not want an audience and there was no reasoning with my son. He would sit at the top of the steps and repeatedly ask, “Are you done, how much longer?” “Can I try the Zumba belt?” Ugh, this workout was exhausting and not in a good way. I had to think of a new plan. What is this, plan C,D,E? I don’t know, I lost track.

I decided to go ahead and begin the running program on Sunday, March 13th, the start of Daylight Savings Time. I must inform you; I am not a morning person and love my sleep. You guessed it, I slept right through that alarm. Fine, I decided to push back the date to March 20th. Give my body time to acclimate to DST and, spring starts in the evening, how appropriate to spend time outside. That day came and went and still no motivational talks were enough. April first, no fooling, it’s a Friday, but who said I had to start on a Sunday. Unfortunately, I slept in and missed my run time, again.

This was getting serious. Why wasn’t I doing this? The benefits are bountiful - better health, more energy to play with the kids, etc., but I kept thinking - instead of running, I could be folding laundry, picking up around the house, writing sweet notes for my kids to find in their lunches. When did this happen, that I dropped so low on the ladder, there was no time for myself? I know I should make time, I told my neighbors and friends that they should make time for themselves and it would have a positive effect in many areas of their lives, yet I could not do it for myself. I came up with excuses, I need more time, more money, the kids need me, my husband needs me, you name it, I used it. That was it, no more excuses, I need this. My kids, my husband, my dogs may not need this, but I do. I need to do this for myself and for no one else.

April 30th, I reread the program, walk 6, jog one, repeat three times. I dust off the sneakers, charge the iPod and attach the earplugs. I am ready for tomorrow, Sunday, May 1st, run day. I am awake for the eleven o’clock news that evening (which is unusual, I am usually far into dreamland by that time) where I see a story on two people in their seventies, who have been running for at least thirty years. The one has even survived cancer and continues to run. After that, I know I have no acceptable excuses. I will wake up early the next morning and make that day one of my 8 week program.

To keep myself motivated, I decide to email my progress to a friend. It doesn’t have to be a long, detailed email; it can be short and sweet, just letting her know I did it today. The responses from my friend keep me going, they are positive replies, the kind a paid, personal trainer might give you. But this is better, it is love and encouragement from someone who knows me.

Each day I walk/run, I feel better, not just physically but emotionally. Thirty minutes, four times a week I am with me and only me. I have uninterrupted thoughts, I listen to the sound of my feet hitting the pavement, the quick beats of my heart and the feel of my abdominal muscles keeping me upright. I imagine I am a horse running gracefully, no race and thankfully, no jockey on my back. I love it, I love myself and yes, this selfishness is making me a better person all around. Every day I run, I run away from home, for a little bit, but I always return feeling refreshed and better about myself. I have taken the time to meet my needs. These runs give me time to remind myself of all the good things I have. I don’t think about the negative or all that I have to do or should be doing. I am so focused on the good, it’s what keeps me going and makes it so addicting. I am proud of my body and feel fortunate to have this complex, functioning machine, I do not want to take it for granted.

Today, driving my daughter to school, she says, “Mom, tomorrow, wake me up at six, I want to run with you.” I practically have a heart attack. That time, is my time, I refuse to share it, is it really too much to ask for thirty minutes all to myself? Realizing, her school is one mile away and there is no time for a lengthy explanation, I calmly reply, “Oh no, you never wake a sleeping child. Sleep is very important at your age. It helps your body and your brain to grow. We can run together in the evening.” She buys it for now and I keep the me time written in ink on my calendar.

Addicted to running? I don’t know, I think I may be addicted to the me time. I love being with my thoughts and knowing I am taking care of myself in more ways than one, it’s multitasking, something we are all trying to succeed at. Another bonus, I love nature and I get to enjoy it at its best, early in the morning, when my small town is peaceful, yet bustling with wildlife. So, if you try to reach me through text, email or phone between 6 and 7am, I’m busy, I have a date with me.

“Walk out, into the sunburst street
Sing your heart out, sing my heart out
I’ve found grace inside a sound
I found grace, it’s all that I found
And I can breathe…”


  1. Here is the program:

    Val, I almost bailed on my run today...technically haven't gone yet, but after reading this, well, I can't wait to hit the streets!

  2. Run, Val, Run!!!!!! I love that you give yourself time and I love that you appreciate the strength of your body and what it can do. We should all celebrate the amazing things our bodies can do and not obsess about the flaws that we can't change. Well done!