It’s official. I just signed up for my first run. Part of a larger marathon in October, I’m just doing the 5km. To be perfectly honest, I’m not a runner. I hate running. All my Rheumatoid Arthritic joints think I’m an asshole for subjecting them to the brutal pounding of each monotonous stride.
But I need a goal. I’m good with goals. Ever since the wedding (by the way, M and I got married in June! More to come in another post), I’ve been going through event-planning withdrawal, so I’ve needed a project, and I figured I was a good project. I actually like extremely physical workouts, though I prefer more boot-campy ones like the Insanity DVDs with Shaun T. Any workout that causes profanities to spew from my mouth is a plus in my books. Since my Rheumatoid Arthritis diagnosis four years ago, I’ve had to temper my workouts with lower-impact activities. But I’m curious about how far I can push myself before I find yet another gray hair in a bizarre part of my body. Also my friends just did Tough Mudder (military-like obstacle course in mud), and though they had asked me to join their team months ago, I declined. As I cheered them on from the sidelines, even in the pouring rain, I was jealous and inspired.
With all the rumours about endorphins and runners’ highs, I always assumed long-distance runners loved to run. But these same Tough Mudder friends who are also distance runners tell me point blank, “I hate it.” To be clear, they love the results of running, they’re just not crazy about the running itself. Not exactly what a gal, wanting to give this the old college try, wants to hear. Kind of like when I was gearing up to quit smoking years ago, and I asked a friend who had been smoke-free for more than 10 years if he ever missed it. He looked me dead in the eyes and said, “All the fucking time.”
By the way, I just looked up the date I quit smoking and, as of August 25th, 2014, I am 6 years smoke-free. Hurray!
Back to the running. I’m only in week two of training, and though I’m already noticing improved stamina and conditioning, my body still feels pretty shitty and frankly, I haven’t lost any weight. I’ve also noticed an increased appetite, hence the stalling weight loss. Being a dancer most of my life, I’ve treated my body like both a temple and a hostel over the years. I’ve subsisted on watermelon or a single muffin a day, coffee and cigarettes for breakfast, abused laxatives, experimented with vegetarianism, cleanses, food combining, high-protein and super-clean eating, all while dancing almost every day, plus whatever additional workout I was into at the time.
I have a love/hate relationship with dance. Much like my marathon friends with their running, I suppose.While I thrived on the competitive aspects of dance when I was young, I find it so exhausting now. It’s not fun being judged every day, or told you have to lose weight to get a role or a job, or literally standing in front of a mirror comparing yourself to other dancers for hours and hours. It’s not even fun being singled out as one to watch because you know how shitty that makes the other dancers feel. As a young dancer, it’s so easy to get caught up in that mentality, and even contribute to it. That’s another reason why I’m drawn to these other kinds of physical pursuits. I’m more interested in my personal best. I was so impressed with the challenging but surprisingly supportive atmosphere of Tough Mudder. I was expecting to see roid-raged athletes manically dodging old tires or oil drums. Instead, people were helping each other over walls (like Richard Gere in Officer and a Gentleman), cheering each other on and even taking their time going from event to event. Not exactly Kumbaya but definitely unexpected. There’s no prize money, no 1st, 2nd, 3rd. You get a t-shirt and a beer for God’s sake! People just really love doing it!
As I gear up for my October 19th run, I’ll keep training and trying to be kind to my body, and hope it will be kind back to me. My goal that day is to keep running the entire 5km. No walking, no stopping. I don’t care about time. This one’s just for me.