Archive for October, 2012

Seeing Stars

Posted on October 26, 2012. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

San Antonio is the first big city I’ve lived in since I started running 13 years ago.  Before now, I’ve lived in small towns or on the outskirts of big ones, far enough away from neighbors that I didn’t have to worry about loud music or closed curtains.

I love San Antonio, and I’m glad to live here.  But one thing I miss about living away from a city is stars.

When I took up running, I lived in Guam. If you want to see how small you really are, live on an island for awhile.  I never comprehended how vast the sky is until I could see it unimpeded by buildings, light, or smog.   There were few well-lit routes to run, but the sky was so clear and bright, especially when the moon was on either side of full, that lights weren’t really necessary.   And the bonus? I regularly got the privilege of running under shooting stars and meteor showers.

The skies above Salado, Texas, where I moved when I came back to the States, were nearly as clear as in Guam. Minus the shooting stars and meteor showers.  Nevertheless, I ran in the dark, under starry skies, eyes always up in search of constellations.

Darkness has its drawbacks.  When you’re unaccustomed to your route you run the risk of tripping over roots or falling into potholes.  But if you tread the same dark path enough times, your feet learn where the sidewalk ends, leaving your eyes to pursue higher things.

Now that I live in the city, I am learning to refocus my gaze.  We all know the trick of running up hills:  Train your gaze a few feet in front of you instead of on the horizon.  Trick your brain into seeing a straight, level path instead of an incline.

My gaze has been cast down not so much to level the hills with my eyes, but in an attempt to avoid treading in the dog poop thoughtless people leave behind.  You run the same sidewalks enough times, you learn where to take the detour into the street.

I still love to run in the dark and am fortunate to have a few stretches on my route that fall outside the puddles of streetlights.  I find that when I’m running through the darkest stretches, my eyes automatically look up, searching for the pattern of stars that lets me know where I am.  I guess I’ve trained my eyes well after all.  And tomorrow when I set out on my path, maybe I’ll be fortunate enough to see stars.

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The Big Question

Posted on October 19, 2012. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

What do you do when you can’t run?  The obvious things come to mind:  Swim, bike, walk, join a gym.  But that’s not what I mean. Not exactly.

What do you do when you’ve been running for years, when running is as much a part of your day as brushing your teeth, when it’s become so rooted in your identity that you don’t know who you are apart from it. When losing the ability to do it feels like losing a loved one or a limb.

It sounds overly dramatic, I know. I used to be a non-runner and always thought there was something a little off about those people who lamented life when they were forced to stop running. Until I became a runner.  And then couldn’t.

When I injured my hip nearly 3 years ago and had to stop running, I lost a piece of myself.  I felt like someone I loved had died.  At first I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I cried daily. Sunk into a depression.  Sat at home alone, not wanting to see my friends or even talk to them on the phone.  I think I was startled as much as I was depressed. I truly did not know how much of my identity was tied to running until running was taken away.

Fortunately, I gradually worked through my injury and began to run again after more than a year.

But I was reminded of this loss lately.  A friend’s husband recently broke his leg so badly that, as my friend put it, his x-ray looked like the inside of a Lowe’s.  A lifelong runner, he now finds himself unable to run for at least the next 10 months. My friend’s eyes developed a distant look as she finished telling me his story, as if her husband had gone some place far, far away and she was trying to remember what he looked like.

Finally, she said, “What do you do when you can’t run?”  She didn’t expect an answer, and I’m glad. The only one I can think of is, you wait.

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Taking Time

Posted on October 12, 2012. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

I don’t have time.

Can’t fit it into my schedule, don’t know how it will get done, it simply won’t happen, there is just not enough time.

If I could plant and grow a pumpkin seed for every time I heard time as an excuse for not exercising, the Great Pumpkin would be rising from its patch nearly every night.

But I don’t buy it. We all have time.  The same amount, every day.  What we choose to do with it is up to us.  We base our choices on our priorities, those people, principles, or things that mean the most to us.

When I’ve led a priorities exercise in workshops, I’ve found that two things are often glaringly missing from people’s lists:  their health and their God.  Even if they tell you in conversation that their health and their spirituality are two of the most important things in their lives, when pressed to list priorities, neither make the list.

Why not? I ask.

No time.

One reason for this may be the way people view time. They take time to do the things they want or need to do.  They take time, for instance, to attend a meeting. But while there, they’re not actually present in the meeting.  They’re busy checking email or texting or making notes about a dozen unrelated things.

They are subtracting time from their day, eliminating tasks one by one.

Maybe instead of taking time, people can learn to give it.  To add something worthwhile to their day, their sense of well-being. To their actual, physical well-being.   We seem to put emphasis—more of ourselves—into the things we give, so why not give something, a gift, to ourselves? Why not time?

There is always enough time.  What are you going to do with yours?

I’m going to run.

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Fall into Running

Posted on October 5, 2012. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

I feel like I’ve become a vampire runner since I’ve lived in Texas.  For what seems like 10 months out of the year (but is probably only 5), I run in the dark, before the sun comes up. It’s not that I think my body will burst into a ball of fire or disintegrate into an ash heap once the first ray of dawn touches my skin, it’s that with the Texas sun comes heat and humidity, and I do not like running in the heat and humidity.  I’m kind of spoiled that way.

I was born and raised in Michigan, where we have four distinct seasons. I love the fall. And I really miss it.  So I was absolutely THRILLED this week when fall began to sweep its way through central Texas.

To my horror, I almost missed it.

Fortunately, I got to run a lot this week.  I say “fortunately” now, but I didn’t feel so fortunate when the week began.  I’ve been diligent about maintaining a strength training program for several months now, which means I’m in the gym 3 mornings a week and running only 2 or (during good weeks) 3.   But this week I suffered from a puzzling injury that caused a great deal of pain when I raised my arm even just a little.  There went strength training out the door.

I solved the puzzle after only 2 days, but have had a hard time reducing the pain. The source of the injury?  Stress.  Seems I carry my stress in my shoulders and neck.  My muscles twist and strain like chords of twine worked into a braid, then bunch up into what feels like a knotted ball.  Literally. I could actually hear something in there bounce earlier in the week.

But rather than whine, I rolled out of bed and ran.  To my very pleasant surprise, outside felt like Michigan.  Cool, crisp air. The smell of early fall.  It changed my outlook entirely.

I even ran one morning after the sun came up.

And I didn’t explode.

Maybe by next week I can smooth out the lumps and put away the fangs for good.   Fall will likely be here, full head on.  I can’t wait.

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