To Be A Runner, Part Five


Running can be very cathartic. Running with a partner can be downright therapeutic!

As you jog along the path, emotions can run right along with you and they can vary drastically in range and intensity. Even though you are focused on the task at hand, the events andor stressors of the day can really sneak up on you. As a runner you really have to be careful with how you interact with these emotions, particularly if you are a beginner.

Similar to when you are driving, the direction of the car will naturally follow the same direction as your eyes; your legs will move at the same rate as your mouth. Wanda and I head out on our jog, both declaring that we had frustrating days and immediately launched into a venting session. Although a much needed release it was observed that our pace had picked up dramatically as our rants became more excitable.

Learning to run is supposed to be a gradual build up (although, as eluded to in my last blog, gradual is a relevant term). If you try to push yourself too hard or too fast then your body will retaliate in a negative fashion. For me, it is always with the shin splints; and as our rants progressed, our pace sped up; as we sped up, my shins began to scream; and as they screamed I began to seethe.

Now, I have a hint of perfectionism in me (some may say that’s a bit of an understatement, but hey – nobody’s perfect). When my shins start to scream my perfectionist side translates that into I’m doing something wrong; and my pessimistic side translates it to mean that I am too inadequate to succeed. Meanwhile my optimistic side whispers, “Please stop berating yourself,” because she is polite and soft spoken and frequently ignored.

All this being said, a few interesting techniques have developed to compensate for the afore mentioned woes – from mantras, affirmations, jigs to Tourette’s. Yes, you read those correctly. Allow me to elaborate.

The term ‘run’ conjures up images of sprinting, so for each heat I automatically want to fly like a bat out of hell. Jogging, apparently, is the only thing that I attempt to be quick at in my life. Alas, my body hasn’t progressed to a point of being able to withstand the jarring impact of speed. So, to compensate, I’ve developed the mantra, “Slow, steady shuffle.” I vocalize this mantra before starting each heat just to reinforce that in order to succeed I have to maintain a slow cadence. And it appears to be working!!

The mantra is accompanied by questions such as, “Are your legs tired?” and, “Why can’t I hear you breathing!?” Questions like these are great (albeit they can be surprising – I’m pretty certain I was breathing that day) because they affirm that I am not in this alone. Someone else is going through similar struggles and we can vent together (so long as we watch the pace). Yay!

One of these affirmations resulted in an impromptu jig. Wanda and I were commenting on tired, sore legs and she exclaimed, “I feel like I want to shake out my calves.” Inspiration hit!! I wonder if shaking my legs would increase the circulation and help reduce puffiness and some of the pain? So, during one of the walking periods I broke out into a hoe-down jig in the middle of the trail. Although it seemed like a good idea in the moment the only thing it had accomplished was a hoot of laughter from Wanda (she’s so easy to amuse – it’s great!!). Now I’ll attempt a mini jig just to get her going.

Finally, the discovery that cursing helps us get through the pains, tiredness and breathlessness wasn’t lost to us. The deeper into the program we get, the more frequently and creatively the cursing occurs. We are always courteous of our fellow patrons of the trail, mind you. Just as the frequency increases the deeper we go, the cursing will subside as we enter into our cool down, celebratory phase (high fives are a mandatory celebratory response)! While discussing and laughing about our unladylike behavior it dawned on us that this syndrome of Runner’s Tourette’s is something that you never hear about – until now anyways.

In conclusion, running allows you to vent your frustrations through shared experiences, meditation, dancing and above all else – laughter! I’m still fighting my body, but overall a positive experience. On a go forward basis I’m trying to teach my optimistic side to speak from her diaphragm…

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