I don’t listen to music when I run. I don’t have a running partner to talk to. It’s just me inside my own head for mile on top of mile. MrZ swears that he can’t run without his iPod because he gets “bored.” I explain to him that spending an hour or more alone in my head is one of the perks of my long runs. A luxury I don’t have in my daily life: time with myself. I use this time to map out personal goals, ponder the universe, contemplate the meaning of life, and to write introspective blog entries to bore my readers with. This is one that I composed during my 10-mile run on Saturday.
There are three elements that come into play when I’m planning for my Sunday long runs. The first is Physical: Bones, Muscles, and Joints. This is the least inhibiting of the three, if you can believe it. See – when you run as slow as I do (my distance running pace is 12+ minutes/mile), and have as short of a stride, the impact of running isn’t much more on my body than walking would be. My joints and muscles don’t hurt any more by running than they would by walking. Some call it slow, I call it BRILLIANT.
The second element is Endurance: Heart and Lungs. Ten years of unhealthy lifestyle choices (I was in college!) made my heart and lungs a little slow to catch up with my muscles and joints. This would be the second toughest hurdle in my training. Even though I run slow, I can’t carry on conversation without having a heart attack. When I get to my walk/water stops – I sound like I’ve been sprinting based on my heavy breathing. I have learned to breathe slow and steady – which helps immensely – but it’s still a very limiting factor in my distance running.
This most debilitating element in my training is Psychological: The Mind. When I started considering training for a marathon, I just assumed that somewhere along the way I’d become a Runner. I knew that there was no way that Zoot, in her current version, could run a marathon. So – during the training, surely Zoot would trade in her Diet Coke for Gatorade and the transformation would be complete.
The fact that this has not happened yet? Makes me question my abilities. With each long run, I think to myself – “I can’t do that. I’m not a runner.”
I am slowly learning that I don’t have to become someone different in order to be running. I don’t have to trade in my TV Guide for Women’s Health. I don’t have to switch my Krispy Kremes for granola. I can still come home from a mid-week short run and veg on the couch for the next three hours watching crappy television. I’m learning that someone who has a TV blog can still run.
I’m sure that if I changed those other aspects of my life I could be a better runner, but for right now? That’s not the point. The point is to just do it. I just want to get out there and be doing something good for my body. If I try to convince myself I have to make other changes, it all becomes too daunting. Knowing I can still have my cake and running shoes too, makes this change seem possible. I’m not going to win any races eating my weight in bean dip the night before, but knowing I don’t have to deprive myself of that delight, makes it easier to at least finish the race the next day.
I guess it has just been enlightening to realize that someone who eats doughnuts and hates the taste of water can run 10 miles. I’m breaking barriers here, people – I’m going run marathons for the TV addicts everywhere. Care to join me?