Monthly Archives: November 2011

What am I doing?

It’s disingenuous to say I “quit running”. I obviously didnt….can’t. I qualified my runner “status change” by saying I quit COMPETITIVE RUNNING, which says something more exact, but is still a touch deceptive. The real truth is, I quit TRAINING. That means something else entirely. It means I’m no longer conscripted to a schedule. It means I’m absent of specific goals. It means I run when I can and when I feel like it, without concern. I might do 20 miles on a Saturday, but only because that seems like a good idea. And if I don’t run for another three days after, well, that’s because I have no pressing need to do so. I’m not training. That description puts me at much greater ease and I feel wholely comfortable using that to explain my change in focus lately. I obviously didn’t quit running, lest I went under the knife to have my legs removed. And although I might enter a race here and there (Jingle Bell 5k to celebrate a friend’s coming child…man shower!!), I’m not necessarily TRAINING for it. I’m just running when the mood and ability hits me. It’s absurd to think I could ever just QUIT anyways. Quitting is for smokers.

Shaved and shorn

I cut my hair. My running hair. And my beard. The beard was dead weight, but the hair…that was my accessory, as inseparable to me as a garmin is to some. It was my speed gauge, I like to joke, but it certainly did offer a nice shadowed profile on sunny days.

I always said when I quit running I’d cut my hair…deluding myself into going underground. Separating my identity from my personhood, so the painful reminders of what I could no longer do wouldn’t have to be addressed. It doesn’t work. Others still register shock when I tell them I didn’t run the local marathon they just asked about. They still recognize me. The only person that doesn’t recognize me is myself. The shadow that bounds along side me in the woods is a stranger. A well groomed poindexter, enacting the feel good ritual the rest of conservative society loves to embrace. I don’t say hello to that stranger…he repulses me, so I try to outrun him. The pounding lungs signal the necessary transformation, cutting my identity from that “runner”….”jogger”. I don’t know who he is with that closely cropped hair. He looks stupid. Nothing signals his speed. He could be out “taking in the sights” for all I know. That’s not me. Not when I’m running anyways.

I hit the parking lot and my legs are filled with the weight of effort. The pain begins to creep into the deepest muscle fibers, entering and hardening almost immediately. It feels good to hurt, because poindexters don’t hurt. I do.

The shadow catches up and the stranger’s silhoutte begins to come back into focus. I think I know that guy. He has a lot of ambition…but he doesn’t really know what to do with it right now. I should probably sit down with him and have a long conversation about focus and perseverance, hardship and endurance, accomplishment and satisfaction. He reminds me of myself a little..if he’d just grow out that stupid looking haircut.

For the love

I’m in pain…or so my quads are. They speak to me on the stairs primarily, the language of the marathon, but one which I didn’t run. I am in debasing religious  pain from running 2 hours in the woods of Southern Indiana, with nearly no buildup to the effort. No matter. I knew I was punishing myself in a way. I knew I was damaging myself…and I don’t care. It felt great and it felt exhausting when I finished. I was nauseous from going without water and only Gels. I was punished.

I knew it was going to hurt today and I didn’t care, because I also knew I wasn’t going to run today. No time…truthfully. Ok, there is time, but an hour I no longer care to meet. The 4 am wake up call can keep silent from now on. I have work and family and the need not to be a pendulum of emotions. I need sleep. I also need running.

So I ran to punish myself for not running…well, it just feelst that way. I knew running hard for 2 hours was going to get me the next day and the next, but I don’t care anymore. There is no race to train for. There is no need to manage pain. There is no need to recover. There are only minutes wasted on the doldrums of daily life and the opportunites to break away from them.

I’ll probably keep punishing myself. I’ll probably keep savoring the two days later reminders that I still did something awesome for a couple hours. I’m now doing it “for the love”, but maybe more truthfully as a reminder that I’m incredibly not dead.

Printed matter is a manner of permanency and I etch short stories into my legs not to forget my history.

“I’d rather burn out than fade away.” – Refused