Running Man Monday

Running Man Monday July 25, 2011

I got all fired up this morning over something I read about over at Dr. Nadal’s fearless blog, and sat down to write about it, and then got sidetracked by a Platonic allusion I was trying to make, then started writing about freedom, and then I realized that I was really confused by my own writing so I saved it and walked away.

I don’t usually walk away; usually I figure out some way to make what I’m trying to write make sense because usually I have a gut instinct which leads me in the direction that I need to go. Today, not so much.

But then I went for a run, took a shower, and found myself with a little extra time on my hands while Charlotte was napping, so I decided that I would at least get something up. For lack of a better idea, I’m going to talk about running.

My philosophy on running 

Have I mentioned how much I love running? It makes me a happy person. This is an odd development, since when I was in high school my volleyball coach used to make us run laps before practice, about the equivalent of a mile, and I though she was the meanest person that ever lived. I’ve always despised running. But then. after I had Sienna and the accompanying sixty pounds (can you say Whataburger?) that came along with her to lose, my lithe, lovely and totally fierce sister-in-law made me start running with her.

Well, I asked if we could run together, and then when we started to run I was shocked when she just kept…on….running. I was ready for a break after about 20 seconds, and then another break 20 seconds after that, but she was like a friggin robot. I wanted to “go for a run” and walk most of the time, so I could feel slightly more at ease with my level of activity while not actually having to exert a whole lot of effort. She wanted to sweat.

And sweat we did. I discovered pretty quickly that my “I like to work out all the time and you could wash clothes on my stomach” brother-in-law actually is right, it is mostly mind over matter. Once I was like, “self, I know you can’t breathe, but you’re just gonna have to deal with it because these feet aren’t stopping for another mile,” running was actually surprisingly pleasant. It felt good to move again, to sweat, and to be sore. Also, I realized that if I worked hard enough during a run, I was usually in a really good mood for the rest of the day (the famed “runner’s high,” I guess.) But the benefit that really sold me on running as the best form of exercise for me was that on days when I went for a run, my temper was much easier to control.

If you’re new around here, you probably don’t know that I have a nasty, nasty temper that tends to boil over at my children sometimes. I’ve gotten much better at controlling it of late, but running is an infinite aid in controlling my moods.

Unfortunately, I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion that I run like an idiot. As I’ve said, running is a recent development. I didn’t grow up running. No one has ever talked to me about form, foot placement, arm angles, etc. So when I run, I just kind of keep moving my feet in a bouncy plod. (I don’t run fast. At all.)

Despite my husband’s occasional jokes about my lack of form, this has never really bothered me. One of the things that comes with spreading your legs in front of a room full of strangers who watch with rapt attention as a baby comes out while you puke and scream is that it pretty much kills any lingering vanity you might be clinging to. I’ve never (thankfully) passed a reflective surface while running, so I remained until recently, blissfully unaware of my incredibly awkward form. When people pass me in cars and stare, I just tell myself that they’re impressed with my ability to keep moving despite all the jiggle that’s going on. And I give them a friendly wave and pretend not to see when they look away in embarrassment.

My mom has a treadmill in her room, which is awesome for me since it is a nice, sultry 118 degrees outside these days. Not to mention that the humidity contributes to make running outside feel more like running through boiling jell-o. So I’ve taken to restraining the children in whatever sort of makeshift cages I can fashion for a while in the mornings while I run.

Most unfortunately, she also has a large picture directly across the room on the right of the treadmill. Today, I happened to glance over at said picture while running and saw, for the first time, a reflection of my mad running skills.

Words cannot do justice to what I saw. Here’s a hint…I did not look like a gazelle.

Not me

Or if I did look like a gazelle, it was a gazelle who had simultaneously been given large quantities of muscle relaxers, tranquilizers, and speed.

More like me

Me running is seriously the most awkward thing I’ve ever seen. A bouncy plod is actually a pretty good visual. While I did notice that my arms swung at the appropriate 90 degree angle, my hands were all clenched up into little, breathless fists, my shoulders were hunched up, my head was sort of alternating between being up straight when I felt energized and swaying pathetically when I thought I couldn’t take another stop.

But it was the action happening below the waist that really made things interesting. I have this really bad habit of dragging my feet when I run, mostly because running is so effing hard that picking them up one centimeter more than is necessary almost always seems beyond my power. So occasionally I’ll trip over my own feet, making me realize that if I don’t pick them up higher I’m going to be standing still any second, and so I’ll overcorrect and start springing into the air like some sort of deranged kangaroo. This will continue for about a minute, until I realize that I’m about to collapse into a useless, sniffling heap of sweat, and then I’ll go back to dragging my feet slightly quicker than I would if I were walking, while swinging my arms much more energetically than necessary to make up for the lack of oomph coming out of my feet.

It was actually such an interesting visual that I ran further than usual without even noticing. I did take that opportunity to try and correct my bizarre running habits, only to nearly fall of the treadmill when I stepped on my own foot. I’m sort of toying with the idea of trying to correct my form while running from now on, but seeing as that seems like a lot of work, and the simple act of running is already a lot of work, I may just leave my fabulous form intact.

At least I can rest assured that my ungainly running habits will keep me from getting hit by a car while running on the city streets. After all, a runner like me is hardly something that the average driver could ignore.

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