Running Woes: Why My Boyfriend Deserves a Medal

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Running has brought out my Dark side the way nothing else so far in my life has.

People extol the virtues of the meditative aspect of running, but the only thing I can fixate my mind on–besides whatever cramp/stitch/flyaway hair/headwind/insect is irritating at that particular moment–is the three-way conversation the demons in my head are having about what a fuck up I am. It goes a little like this:

Demon #1: Oh, are you tired? Do you want to stop already? You know why, right? It’s because you’re a total screw up. You’ve been running for, what, three months, and you can still barely make a mile without wanting to stop? That’s pathetic. This is probably why you suck at everything you’ve ever tried. You should just give up now because you’re never going to be as good as you want to be, just like everything else. Oh my god, your pace is so slow! What is the point of even trying? You are such a loser.

It actually gets a lot worse than that, but for the purposes of maintain a little credibility as a mildly sane person, I will refrain from elaborating further. When I feel like crying, the second demon chimes in:

Demon #2: Really? Stop being so fucking melodramatic and just run. Jesus Christ.

And then from nowhere:

Demon #3: Ugh, you can’t even mentally berate yourself properly. Eye roll.

So with that half-drill-sergeant-half-bitchy-girl-taunt soundtrack running (no double meaning intended), it’s a little hard to distract myself with thinking soothing thoughts of furniture arrangements or how pretty the sunset is or whatever the fuck people think about when they run. I have actually broken down and cried. This is some deep-seated shit gurgling up to the surface. WHERE IS MY RUNNER’S HIGH ALREADY, GOD DAMN IT!?

runner's high vomit

Ahem.

My boyfriend, who sometimes runs with me, has encountered my crazy more than once. Poor guy. He probably thought he was dating this cool, confident girl and instead she is wrestling some pretty gnarly emotional problemas du inadequacie that only seem to come out when under physical stress. I think he’s learned at this point that a good distraction is, I kid you not, to argue with me about hypothetical rocket trajectories, politics, and other scientific principles. So even though sometimes he pisses me off, he is still awesome and deserves a medal for dealing with an occasionally weepy and negative running partner.

Allow me to attempt to address the question “What’s the point of even trying?” then. I have never been a runner. Running has always physically defeated me, even when I was 15 and “in shape.” So now I would like very much to punch running the face and force it into submission. It’s not even really that. I don’t want to make running my bitch. I want it to be a life companion. I want to enjoy a nice jog in the evening. I want to take a run to work out problems of the day or write blog posts in my head about things other than how fucked up my psyche is.  And you know, sometimes that happens. It’s rare, but sometimes I am happy being right there on the beaten path listening to my own footsteps.

It’s not even about being the best anymore (if it ever was). It’s about doing my best. (Barf. I know.)

So here are some positive things about my running so far:

  • My knees don’t hurt anymore!
  • My feet are falling apart but I mostly wear close-toed shoes anyway!
  • In April, I ran 6 miles and then could barely move the next day. A few days ago, I ran 7 miles in about the same time and wasn’t sore at all! Progress!
  • Sometimes I can have conversations with the boyfriend (like about rockets) and my responses are longer than monosyllabic grunts!
  • Today I tripped and skinned my knee and the heels of my hands and I kept going for the rest of the activity!
  • I’m contacting all the people in my life who I know to have completed or are in the process of training for a half or full marathon to get advice for how they keep going. I have something in common with people that I didn’t have before!
  • I have caught myself using “short” and “three miles” in the same sentence!
  • Sometimes I don’t want to run, but I do it anyway, and 98% of the time, I’m glad I did.
  • I enjoy nodding at fellow runners as we pass one another, especially other lady runners (that sounds mildly creepy). You go Glen Coco!
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I anticipate that the biggest challenge will be to remember all of these things when I am actually out there on the run. Otherwise, all of that positive reinforcement goes out the window and the second I want to stop, no reason to keep going seems important enough. I just don’t give a fuck.

Maybe I need some kind of mantra. I sort of found one in “If I can snowboard with a fractured arm, I can run a half marathon!” but it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. Also, I didn’t know it was fractured, and that might have made a difference.

I of course am welcoming suggestions for a running mantra and for medal designs for the Boyfriend of the Millennium.

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