The last few months have been pretty interesting for me. I spent a good bit of time nursing a running injury. The injury, which I have struggled with before, took way more time to heal than I originally anticipated. The rehab process, while doing much better now, was slow going. An unintended result of the extended timeline was a whole lot of time to consider my injury in a broader sense – were there underlying causes, what do I need to do differently, is it a natural consequence of age, is all this running just fucking crazy, should I hang up my shoes?
I came to a few conclusions. I have a very limited idea where this is going this morning so my conclusions maybe in some kind of cohesive flow and you may just have to shake and shimmy through them just like I am 🙂
I run for the same reason I write. It keeps me sane. I have a tendency to pull towards the high and low extremes emotionally. When that happens, my brain tangles up and ideas get hitched. I am not always really sure what I think. When I am, I am not sure that I really think that. Maybe one day I will be able to explain that better, but for today, that’s just going to have to do. For a while in the beginning, we worked on bringing that back towards the middle with meds. I won’t go into all that here, but suffice to say it was not optimal. If fact, it became so counter productive that I ceased taking anything at all.
Writing has always been a great untangler of the brain snakes. I think we’ve discussed before the therapeutic benefits I experience in putting words on paper so I can consider whether or not they are mine.
Running has the same untangling effect. Christopher McDougall has a great quote. “If you don’t have the answer to your problems after a four hour run, you ain’t getting them.” Folks have often asked me if I get a runner’s high. I don’t. I do get a runner’s level which, for me, is even better. Because I have high/low tendencies, running is a perfect tool. The endorphins keep my low end elevated and the run burns off the energy at the high end. It is a beautiful thing.
I have also fallen into the same mistakes running as I do writing. Most notably is ancillary work, consistency, and common sense activity.
I know I should stretch more. I know I should read more. I know I should should should….but I don’t. If it isn’t writing exactly, if it isn’t running exactly, it’s placement on my priority list goes way down. In case you were wondering, this is probably the worst idea ever. Okay, so maybe that’s overstated just a bit, but it’s a bad idea. Writing is hard. It is an emotional endeavor that leads to places I am not always ready to go and it changes me every time I do. As I look at that last sentence I realize I can say the exact same thing about running. It’s hard. It takes you places. It changes you. Shoring that up with the ancillary activities that support and care for that is important – maybe most important because it allows me to keep doing the main things longer with more effectiveness.
I know I should be more consistent. I will go months without writing a word. Weeks without running a mile. Then I will explode into the gotta write every day and I gotta run 20 miles this week. This doesn’t work. The mind doesn’t function that way. The body sure as hell doesn’t function that way. It needs some warm up, it needs training. It needs consistency. Otherwise, the dormant / balls to the wall flip flop causes substandard performance with counter productive results.
I know that doing something, anything, is better than doing nothing. I know that. I know that. But I don’t always know that. I’ll look at my 20 minute training run and think, “Why in Sam’s hell am I even getting out of bed for 20 minutes?” Or I’ll look at the available time I have to write and think, “There isn’t enough time to get this whole thought out and formatted. I just won’t write.” Or even worse is the, “I can’t post that so I won’t write.”
That’s probably the worst – I can’t do what I think is the natural outcome so I won’t start the journey. Maybe I can’t finish the race. Maybe that piece of writing will get too personal, too convoluted that I can’t publish it. So I don’t. The problem with that way of thinking is I never start and therefore never know what could have been…that’s no way to be.