Day 32: Sluggish

I have a friend who has run lots of distance races. And he is serious about it. He sometimes wins and stuff. He trained for the Olympics. He has put in some work and some time. I asked him one time how he stays motivated. He said that he sometimes just gets out there, even if he doesn’t feel like it. Rain? Cold? Not enough sleep? Tough. Get out there and run anyway. It was over a decade ago he said this to me, but his words were sticky enough that I think about it on days like today. I was just plain old sluggish.

Someone asked me recently, “Are you a runner?” I used to think of myself as a runner, but my running has been so sporadic and so without accomplishment the past few years that I don’t think of myself the same way. I said something wishy washy like “I guess so,” and the conversation moved on. I guess I can say again that I am a runner, but I still feel like I should do more as a runner to call myself that. I should run far, or fast, or at least enter some events now and again. All I’m doing these days is poking down the road. Every day I’m shuffling.

I guess my accomplishment is 32 days of running in a row. That is something anyway, although it feels like a sideways way to accomplish something. It feels easier this way. I mean, I just go for a run, today and every day. I don’t worry about training plans or regimens or rules about when to run. I just go every day. I don’t go all that far, mind you, but the miles add up. Today I managed 5.6 miles. Not five and a half miles, since my house to the pond is 5.6. I’ll take the extra tenth. Like I said, it adds up.

I got plenty of sleep last night and even ate breakfast before I left, which I typically do not do. Still, I felt like a slug. I was dragging my feet. I was oozing down the road. I was pokey. It felt a little silly. I had to keep pushing myself forward and telling myself how ridiculous it was that I was going so slowly. I called myself some bad names. But I put in the miles and called it day 32. I thought of this friend of mine all those years ago and how he just got out there, whether he felt like it or not. The rest of what he said was this: “No matter what, I always feel better once I get out there; it is always worth it.”

On this point, he was right on the mark.

Seriously Soggy

When I woke, too early to get up, I could hear the rain dripping off the eave onto the deck. It was coming down hard. It was too early to get up because I didn’t want to get up yet. I was tired. It was dark. It was raining. I could have stayed in bed. And I did for a while–until 5:30. Then I rose in the glow of the night light and dressed myself and headed downstairs.

I tied my running shoes, slipped on a windbreaker and a billed hat, strapped my headlamp in place and…headed to the kitchen to get some more water. Then I checked the temperature again. Then I had to get going. The clock was ticking. So I stepped outside and found that the rain had stopped. Well, it had almost stopped. It was spitting at me as I started getting a pace on and rolled down the driveway.

It held off for a while. I got almost three miles before it really started to rain again. The fog had gotten thick, so I had turned off my headlamp. There was enough light and enough open road that I could turn it back on if a car approached. My pants were nearly scared right off when I encountered a person, I think it was a man, at the end of his driveway. “Hello,” he said as I was just upon him. All I could muster in my startledness was a blurted “How’s it going?” as I trotted past.

And then the rain started in again, gently at first, but steady. Then it got serious. I was pretty much soaked by the time I got home. Dripping. It was fairly warm–about 45 degrees–so I wasn’t all that cold but I was chilly enough. As I walked back up the driveway I had a mini-fantasy that my wife had started a warm fire and brewed some coffee, that I did not have to go to work after all and that I could sit (in dry clothes) with a warm mug and a good book and listen to the rain while I read.

Didn’t happen. The sun did come out today, after a struggle. I felt happy to have gotten out there early, however. It was early, it was dark, it was chilly, and it was raining. “Get out there and run anyway,” I told myself. And I did. And tomorrow? I plan to do it again, whatever the weather.

More Drizzle

October Rainy Day

October Rainy Day

More rain today. We haven’t had a fully sunny day in quite a while. Forecast for tonight: rain. I need to decide whether or not to get up early and run. I was thinking I would run about 7:00 AM–early, but not nearly as early as I have been running. Then my wife says she wants to leave at 7:00 to go for a hike.  So do I wait until much later in the morning, when I am likely to be less motivated?  Or do I get up way early, even though it will be Saturday? Plus, it will be raining.

I will get in 20 plus miles this week. It still feels like not enough, but slow and steady, eh? I’m thinking maybe a half marathon next month. If I can build up the miles slowly enough I can do that. Or, as has been the case too often the past couple of years, I somehow injure myself. So far so good, but it is tempting to push it. Tomorrow I go seven and a half miles. A good solid run. I almost hope it will be raining, whenever I decide to go. That would be good for settling the mind.

I feel good and I am glad I have been rising early. It isn’t easy. I often don’t get quite enough sleep. But I need to do it. Early morning is the only time I’ve got to run consistently, and once I’ve done it, the day has started well. I am stronger now and, most nights, I sleep better. I have even managed to miss the big downpours in the morning–I’ve lucked out with the timing. Maybe tomorrow I’ll run in the rain. I’m picturing a light rain, a drizzle if you will. Just enough to keep me moving, to keep me cool, to keep my mind in the moment. It would be nice to think about nothing but my breathing, and the water on my cheeks, and where the puddles might be. For an hour or so, I can leave the rest behind.

Sick of It Then Ready to Crank

If you have ever done any painting then you know how much prep needs to go into getting it done right.  I have spent a lot of time prepping to paint the trim on our house this summer and a little time painting.  I plucked away all day at it and did do some final painting.  I did everything to prep another side of the house and it is finally ready for some real paint.  By that time, however, I was sick of it.  I had had enough for the day.  I called it quits.

I was hoping to be further along by now and I was hoping to paint all the trim by the end of summer.  By the time I dropped the roll of masking tape next to the paint cans I was feeling like that is just too daunting.  I want to get it done but I want to do other stuff as well.  Luckily I have been doing other stuff.  I have had a good summer so far.  Nonetheless, my mood was a little blue as I headed to the kitchen to make dinner.

That cheered me up.  I grilled up squash and onions and make paninis of sorts on the grill.  They turned out dang tasty.  The herbs and the zucchini were from our garden, so it was a double deal.  I love to whip up a good meal, so that, plus a beer, made me feel good all over again.  Then I headed out to the garage to start peeling tape off so at least one section would be done with the painting.  That perked me up as well.

The final product looks good.  Whoa, I thought, maybe there is some reward here after all.  If I can make our whole house look like that, then sign me up.  I was newly motivated to get up and get started tomorrow.  The forecast for sunny skies helps as well.  I need to get a good rest tonight so I can work faster and better than ever, and get farther along than I have yet.  For the first time, I am excited to get painting.  As long as I still feel that way in the morning, I should get mucho done manana.

Proof of a Higher Power?

So we have a couple kids and I basically stop running.  I go from at least a marathon every year to a 50-miler then pretty much doodly squat.  Partly because of this I had back problems.  If I had kept up the physical activity, I would probably have been fine, but it got bad enough I needed surgery.  That meant I was out of commission for a long time.

Needing surgery told me that I needed to start running again.  When I have been running, my back is good to go.  Slack off and things weaken and get sore.  I was really getting up there in the miles last summer when I pulled a muscle.  It took me a long time to get there, being slow and cautious, not overdoing it, taking it easy.  But I still got hurt.  That meant lots more time of rest and lots more time without running.

This winter and then into spring I started to really get out there again.  I again started to put on the miles and I felt that the 50-miler might be within reach this fall.  I was feeling good.  Then, on a trip to Disney World of all places, I smash my toe on a suitcase so badly that my whole foot turns purple and I start limping around.

I am sure I busted it.  I taped it for a while and it started to feel better.  It still hurts too much, however.  I should really ice it and take ibuprofen and put it up for a few days, then get back to walking around.  But I haven’t done that.  I have been joking with my spouse that maybe this is proof that there is a higher power who does not want me to run.

But maybe this is proof that there is a higher power who does not want me to go to Disney World.  Or who does not want me to work, since a desk job contributed to needing back surgery.  Or who wants me to where shoes more often, even in Florida.  Or who wants me to pack with a suitcase on a table or a bed instead of the floor.

I have had a few setbacks to getting in the training.  I guess I just need to keep the goal in mind and get back to it once more.  I can still run 50 miles, as long as I don’t turn into a frail old man before I get all the training in.  Even then, I might be able to do it.  Most people wouldn’t do that kind of thing, but that actually motivates me to do things.  No one else wants to do it?  Might just be worth doing.

Anyway, I don’t really think that all these obstacles to my running goals are proof of a higher power.  I have seen others use just this kind of thing to justify belief.  Many people do that, in fact.  Since many people do it, however, I am motivated to do what they do not do.  I am going to do my own thing, dangit, and when I stop hobbling around, I am going to get started on that right off.