I run because he can’t.

Hanging in my parent’s basement is a calendar. My dad put it there. He uses it to keep track of the many miles he runs each month. The calendar has been blank since April. You see he, the man who has been a healthy runner for as long as I can remember, has become very sick. About 18 months ago he had a non-cancerous brain tumour removed. He miraculously recovered from that and we spent Christmas running together, for the first time. We ran lots of miles, he and I, talked about many significant and insignificant things and I loved (almost) every minute of it.  I planned to return to Canada for a bit this summer and continue to run with him as he added miles to the calendar.. but that was not to be.

You see, at the end of April he was diagnosed with a very serious kind of cancer. The word “terminal” has been used by health care professionals. This Thursday he started radiation and chemotherapy. I came home as soon as I could and will spend the summer taking care of him and being with him and just loving him. It’s all kinds of horrible. To see a person you have loved for your entire life, in pain, sick, weak… is really quite earth shattering. We are believing, hoping and praying for a miracle but at the same time, trying to accept the reality that he is indeed a very sick man.
And so the calendar continues to hang in the basement. He told me that if he can’t add miles to it, I should definitely do that. And so, with all sorts of heavy emotion, I lace up my shoes, head out the door and run along the roads we ran along together, not so long ago. In a time when I feel so helpless and unable to do that which really needs to be done… unable to cure horrible diseases and fix scary medical conditions– I look for simple solutions and coping techniques and so, I run for him because he can’t.

Somewhat Despicable Me

dear-me Dear Me,

Sometimes you are really rather stupid. I’m writing this so that you can avoid such stupidity in the future. So you ran a race and then what happened to you? Yes, you were sore and tired and a little over the whole experience of putting on your running shoes and so you just… stopped? True, people told you to take a few days off, to recover and to just take it easy. But you took it a step further and just stopped. You know what happens when you stop doing something that deep down you ultimately love…. you get all weird.
Today you went for a run for the first time this week and notice how awake you are now? Notice how much better everything seems to be? Notice how good that morning shower felt? Don’t forget that.
Running in the morning is something that makes you, you. Keep doing it, even on the days you don’t want to. You know that you actually really and truly are a better person on the days that you run. Running affects everything: how you feel about yourself, how you feel in clothes, how you feel about life, what you decide to eat for breakfast, what you choose to mull over in your mind and what you choose to ignore. Running helps you burn through negativity and shows you what to focus on. You love running and you know that it is especially good on the days you really don’t want to do it. So no more! You are back to being the girl who runs 3-4 days a week whether you want to be or not!
Stop being lazy and stupid. You’re better than that!
The Better Version of You.

Psyching Up… Yikes!

So my first half marathon is on Sunday. I suppose I could say I’m a tad anxious about it. My training has been going but not going all that well. I think a week off was probably not the best idea but that’s life.. Hopefully I didn’t do too much damage. I ran a final 10K on Monday morning and have just been doing cross-training activities this week, like Zumba. I’ve got my “outfit” ready and am just working on the perfect “psych up” playlist.

I’m actually looking forward to being done this whole thing. I don’t know what happened but in the training process I seem to have lost my love of running. I mean, I still love being out there sometimes but I somewhat resent having to run certain distances and care about time etc. I want to just be able to run. Plus I think I’m kind of scared of the whole 21km thing. It’s probably going to hurt. I know I should be psyching up but I’m just documenting what’s going on in my head.

Anyway the plan of attack is to just run the thing. I’d love to say that I want to break 2 hours but realistically, that’s not going to happen. People tell me that your first half is about finishing and I know I can do that.. so that’s the plan. Hopefully I’m not the last one over the line!

We have a nice plan, my running friends and I. We’re going to take the train to the area on the Saturday, walk around one of the local parks and just have a nice day. Then after the race on Sunday we’ll be going to one of the nicest onsens in Japan. If you don’t know what an onsen is.. google it. Basically, it’s hot spring water baths. After running.. they feel so good! Excellent incentive to cross the finish line.

Alright well I’ll stop dilly dallying and get on with the important business of psyching up for this thing because hopefully, this time next week, it’ll be done and I’ll be sore but happy!

My Scripted Reality

wordsI had a scripted childhood. My parents wrote us “scripts” for everything.. answering the phone, being introduced to adults, politely declining food at my gramma’s house, what to say to the one parent if I preferred that the other one put me to bed, what to say when someone at a birthday party opened a present I had been dying to have, how to pray before a meal, how to pray before bed, what to say to my friend’s parents after I ate dinner at their house, what to say to an authoritative figure who I believed was wrong (that one is pretty good actually). There were scripts for everything. I can see why my parents did that.. they didn’t want us yelling obscenities into the phone or being rude when we were suddenly in a strange or somewhat demanding situation. They wanted us to be prepared and so they gave us lines to learn and we politely recited them at the right time… most of the time.

That being said, and maybe this is a subconscious rebellion against the scripting of my childhood but I’ve never really been into mantras or key words or special phrases or affirmations. I’m not a huge fan of meaningful inspirational quotes or cutsie sayings. It just seems a little touchy feely and I’d much rather get out there and do something about it than sit around chanting my thoughts. However, I’m starting to think that maybe I should be a little more open-minded because really.. mantras, phrases, motivational quotes, power words.. they are just scripts for grownups. And sometimes.. when I’m standing at the lunch buffet or running around a park at 5 in the morning, it’s nice to know that I’m not going to scream and shout cuss words or curl up along the side of the road in a messy heap of self-loathing.

So what I think I need to do is write a new script.

I started thinking this because up until this point my inner health-related script was more along the lines of: “This is bad but diet starts Monday” or “Ten more minutes on the elliptical and I’m so ordering an extra large pad thai”. Not entirely helpful in the long run. I’m starting to realise how vital it is for me to have my head filled with powerful phrases. No, I’m not running around saying super schmaltzy things.. well not most of the time I’m not, but I do like to have a few significant things going on in there.  (insert blonde joke) Seriously, I’m realising how important it is for my brain to have something to revert back to or make sense of or grab onto or play over and over.. especially during the difficult times.

This morning I typed some sort of semi-motivational thing on MFP along the lines of having a week filled with “7 healthy days”. Writing that out ended up helping me say no to a chocolate muffin at 10am because.. well that wouldn’t be a “healthy day” sort of thing. I want 7 healthy ones… (days not muffins). The thing is that it was funny because that little phrase just popped into my head right when I was about to pick up the dangerous treat and made it easier to say no.

It helps to have a few ideas or thoughts or phrases in our heads that we can go to in moments of physical or mental weakness. I find this is especially true when it comes to working out. It is so easy to be too kind or easy on our bodies and let ourselves have undeserved breaks and unearned rest days. It’s easy to justify breaking a run and walking just a little longer because our legs ache or not doing push ups until we collapse because our arms kind of hurt. It’s all too easy to talk ourselves into staying on the couch with blankets because if we go outside our skin might get wet.

During weak moments.. that’s when we need help from powerful words swimming in our brains.

Maybe you like the famous quotes about needing to give 110% or living each day like it was your last (although why would I spend my last day on earth at the gym?) or Philippians 4:13 or “a year from now you’ll wish you had started today” or “that which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” (thank you Nietzsche and Kelly Clarkson) or “I’m gonna show you how great I am”.. or something to the tune of Eye of the Tiger.

Maybe the big flashy quotes don’t do it for you and you go for more mundane things like: “I need to look super hot in July” or “if you run faster then you’ll be able to lie on the living room floor for 5 minutes” or “True happiness is not found in cupcakes” (which I’m still not 100% convinced is true). 

Or maybe the workout is taking everything out of you and you can only manage to grunt a few key words, primate style: “Hot” or “Stronger” or “Poison” or “No” or “MUSCLES!!!”

Whatever is going on with you and your workouts and/or food choices.. it’s highly helpful to fill your head with thoughts that get you through the struggles and temptations and back to the good place… the land of 1% semi-skimmed milk and raw honey.

Maybe you are the more abusive type who likes to call yourself a Fatty McLardass as you huff and puff around the block or maybe you take the more loving approach and tell yourself that you’re just running bravely down the path toward Beautiful.. whatever it is.. it’s important what you are.. what I am…what we are telling ourselves. I do believe that a large part of our success depends upon it.

So write a script. Tailor it to fit your needs. You know when you’re at your weakest and you know what you need to hear. Write it down somewhere, memorise it and one day you’ll be happy to have such nice or harsh or “abusive” or “motivational” or just downright inspirational and healthy things popping into your pretty little head.

And Then It Was Good Again

love “You get out today?” my colleague asked me as he does every morning.

“I think my body is broken,” I mumbled in reply.

I proceeded to tell him about my very bad run and what had actually been a few unpleasant experiences with my running shoes and the road.
“Oh I wouldn’t worry about that,” he said, “your body is getting ready for a breakthrough.”
A what through?
He told me that my body was just freaking out, conking out but in actual fact it was geting ready to do something great. He told me about how he had a few horrible bike rides over the past week and then one day.. bam! He was faster and stronger and it all just came together. He told me that soon enough something would click again and I’d probably be faster or something.
I was skeptical but held onto the shred of hope that things would get better…
And you know what?
He was right!
They did!
Since my oh-so-very bad run, I have had three completely amazing experiences out there. One medium run, a long one and a short one. All good. I had to go out thrice to make sure it wasn’t a fluke. I was shocked when I looked at my time! Fastest 5km, fastest mile.. new records for me.
I’m feeling good about running again. So people were right.. stick through the bad and it gets good again.
I kinda love running!

When Bad Runs Happen to Good People

 What the heck happened yesterday? I skipped my morning run due to heavy rain and preferable warm blankets and decided to go after work.

It. Was. Awful.

Nothing was clicking. It hurt, it was slow, it was heavy, I felt gross, I felt out of shape, I felt hungry, I felt faint, I felt crampy, I just felt terrible. I tried switching songs, I tried changing my pace, I tried giving myself a little pep talk and then… nothing. So I just embraced the idea that it was going to be a bad run day.
And you know what? That’s okay.
Bad runs happen. Sometimes it’s downright miserable.
But I think that’s when we grow as runners, when for whatever reason, we’re having a terrible time and we just keep going. Logging miles is logging miles. You do gotta take the good with the bad.
So is it with life. Bad days happen to even the best people. Having a bad day or a bad run doesn’t make you a bad person or a bad runner. Getting thrown off and throwing in the towel accomplishes nothing.
But putting your time in, coming home, stretching, showering, getting cozy with a hot bowl of soup and telling yourself that it will get better, that tomorrow will be better..
and believing it
that is the key to being a great runner.

Thought for this week

thoughts  “Clarity comes to me like this: I need to be living my life in such a way that if I knew my expiration date, I would continue living, just as I am […] I want my normal life to sparkle with the allure of the ordinary and speak to me, just the way it is.” – Kristin Armstrong