Sunday, May 11, 2014

The problem with encouragement

So … about a year ago I started running, right?

My kids made me do it. They were the ones who thought the idea of running club would be fun.

I had no grand illusions. I didn't expect to become a runner overnight … or ever. I didn't expect to look like I belonged in a Title Nine catalog (or even the Walmart sportswear flyer). I just wanted to try it and say: “Well, now that's over. Let's eat pie.”

Yeah. It's true. I expected to hate it. I expected to run (halfheartedly) during the hour-long running clinic with other non-athletic adults (who were also killing time) as we waited for our kids (who were simultaneously learning the proper way to hate running) in the children's version of the class.

Running turns out to be a love/hate pastime, which everyone and their eavesdropping mothers will tell you will ruin your body more effectively than methamphetamines.

Well, everyone that is, except for my husband, who may, in fact, be trying to kill me with encouragement, who knows?

In short, I expected to be back on the couch BEFORE my first 5K.

Well, it didn't quite work out as I'd planned.

Oh sure, I injured a knee. … then an ankle … then the other knee … and then the same ankle again (only in a different place) … All of which I expected.

What I didn't count on was how much I missed running when I couldn't do it. Or how much I would envy all the hard-core runners I'd pass in my car as they braved the outdoors in a wintery mix.
Surprisingly, I didn't have to talk myself into pounding the pavement after recovery. During the downtime I had taken a crash course in running tips from the Google School of Sports Medicine and found exactly what I'd been doing wrong:

Too hard. Too fast. Wrong socks. Wrong shoes. You're injured, don't run.

During those sedentary weeks, I had learned the difference between Fartlek, Tempo and Interval runs. I could even define them dependent on a runner's ability to talk naturally, gasp for air, or have the urge to vomit during completion of the workout.

Yet, after learning all of that, what dolt would go racing back to potential re-injury?

Points. At. Self.

Oh sure, I ran in the snow and rain. I ran when it was 7 degrees, but I really did hold myself back. I listened to Dr. Google and went out slower and for shorter distances. I didn't chide myself for taking time off. I didn't even care that I had gained weight instead of losing it during my quest for faster miles and longer distances. Well, I pretended I didn't care, anyway.

And then, last month, my determination payed off: I ran 60 miles.

I can honestly say, staring at the number, I felt like a Viking.

The number on the scale, however, pointed to the fact that I might actually look like a Viking, too.

I blame my husband, of course. There I was, feeling like I had earned those extra helpings of chocolatey decadent desserts he'd been telling me were guilt free.

“Go ahead,” encouraged my husband. “You ran eight miles today while I took a nap. You deserve the dessert.”

Perhaps that's why the needle on my scale moved in the wrong direction.

Why else would the miles I was putting in and the calories my phone said I was burning off have the opposite affect on my weight?

“Muscle weighs more than fat,” chimed my helpful husband, as he skied in place. A smug smile settles on his face.

He'd been prescribed a gym membership by his doctor not more than two weeks ago, and opted for the mechanical whirring of an ancient NordicTrack device he'd pulled out from under a blanket of dust in the garage and set up in our bedroom.

“Swish, swoosh, swish, swoosh, swish swoosh,” goes the machine as he raised the volume on the television. “I've skied one mile every morning and I'm already down 10 pounds,” he shouts proudly over the din.

I resisted the urge to strangle him with arm cords and walked down to the kitchen instead.

Chocolate chip cookies are his favorite.

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