Thursday, March 20, 2008

Philosophy that Moves

You know what I’m in the mood for?

What Lou?

I’m in the mood to wax poetic about running!

‘Cause I haven’t done that in awhile. I’m too long gone from my poetic waxing and sweet philosophizing.

Shall we?

Tonight, I ran 6 miles with Meg and another woman in the neighborhood who we had never run with before. We’ll call her MW, because I’m seriously lacking in the creativity at this moment.

Here’s how it all went down. Last night, I got a text message MW when I was on the bus heading home from my trainer, suggesting that I (and @) meet her at a local bar. On a whim, I figured, what the hell? A couple of drinks couldn’t hurt (P.S. I was wrong) and frankly, it solved my “what am I going to eat for dinner?” dilemma.

In the course of a few hours of conversation, I mentioned that I had to run six miles the following night – which, if you’re counting, would be tonight. MW was all, “Can I come?” And I was all, “Uh, sure. I run with my friend Meg. You’ll like her. But… we’re really slow. We’ll probably run a 12 minute mile.”

MW insisted that she ran a similar pace.

I checked in with Meg via IM the next morning, and her first question was, “Does she know how slow we are?”

I answered: I told her, and she insisted that she’s a 12 minute miler.

So tonight, off we went, around the neighborhood in cool, but pretty darn good running weather, 40 degrees and sunny.

It was beautiful. It was a beautiful freaking run. It was nearly effortless, the time flew due to various stories about work and relationships and whatnots, and MW was exactly our pace. And, she doesn’t know this, but she reminded me of something very important.

And you lucky folks are about to hear all about it.

I think a lot of people, woman especially, tend to have an inner-monologue that includes a fair amount of negative self-talk – whether it be about our weight, or our fitness level, the relationship we’re in, or just general self-esteem – it’s there. Maybe not all the time, maybe not even most of the time. But there are moments, when it’s the loudest voice we hear.

As of late, I have a particularly nasty habit of giving myself a hard time for being a “slow” runner. What’s wrong with me that I’m not getting better? Why is it that I’ve been doing this for two years and I still suck? I’m never going to be faster. Maybe I should just stop running because I'm embarrassing myself.

This is all internal and ridiculous at the very least. And, I don’t say these things out loud, mostly because I know it's crazy talk. But it's there, and I believe the negativity can have devastating consequences.

Anyway, MW said something that finally made me remember why it’s not only OK to be slow, but – hell – it's also more entertaining. She’s fairly athletic, and I imagine, if she wanted to be, she probably could run faster, but she doesn’t want to. She hated running when she ran faster. But, when she slowed down, she could chat, the time would fly by, and the runs would be enjoyable.

And, I totally had one of those light bulb/AH HA/accept thyself, kneel at the alter of Oprah moments.

I've said this before, and I'll probably keep saying it: running, in many ways, has changed my life. And, one the ways it’s changed my life is that, because of running, I’ve met like-minded people, some of whom have become close friends simply because I chose to join a community of runners – a community of s-l-o-w runners who get out on the lakefront path every weekend all summer long and run double digits while yapping about work, and friends, and drama, and relationships, and drinking, and sexcapades, and family, and histories… what better way to get to know people? What better way to connect? The miles are worth their weight in vodka -- I'm talking about the good stuff, not of this plastic bottle with a handle crap. And, nine times out of ten, I don't wake up with a hangover the next day.

And as long as I keep running, I'll keep realizing that it has changed my life.

I said to Meg one morning last summer, “You know, I think running is my religion.” And it's true. Running on Saturday morning is like church for me. It’s ritual. It’s community. It’s positive and life affirming. It’s not about slow or fast. It’s not about time or pace. It’s totally the cliché journey bullshit and the lessons you learn along the way.

These are the things I forget during the long Chicago winters. These are the moments that shift the inner monologue.

Note to self: Slow and steady gets the most gossip.


@ said...

Inspirational, Lou. Though I'm not quite at the "running is my religion" stage, I think I'm starting to get it.

L Sass said...

What a great quote. I share all of your feelings about running, the way it changes you and your feelings about your body, the great community you get out of being with other runners and running at a pace that is FUN rather than competitive.

My main running buddy has a super dramatic love life and I SWEAR that is my #1 required characteristic for a training partner. Drama! It makes the miles fly by!

Lindy said...

A-a-a-men, let the church sing, a-a-a-men, a-a-a-men, a-a-men, AMEN!

MMG said...

Good post, Louisa. The negative self-talk and inability to run even a 10-minute mile tend to make me avoid running, which is a shame because there's no other exercise that makes me feel so freaking fantastic when I'm done.

Jaime said...

Nice post.

TravelGretta said...

No negative self-talk for you, missy! Think "Stuart Smalley" - he totally knew what it was all about.

heidikins said...

12-minute miles seems really fast to me... I'm currently in the 14-minute mile arena and huffing and puffing all the way. Maybe one day (like, in 2 years or something) I'll join the Church of Running the 12-Minute Mile.