Monday, July 23, 2012

The Line Between 'Runner' and 'Exerciser'

Between June 4 (after the Ojai Marathon where I ran a good-for-me 4:22) and June 29, I ran one time.  I was in Boston and didn't want to leave the city before logging some miles there.  Did a grand 2.5.  It wasn't a pretty run, either -- the weather was humid and about to rain, and I was running around the airport with a sore ankle that I got from wearing heels for too long during my stay there.

I ran for five days in a row when I was in the Chicago area, mostly for the same reason but also because I had just finished Insanity and needed to do something different.  The hotel I was in had a pretty good gym, though stuffy.  My 3-4 milers on the treadmill would end in urgency and a good amount of sweat.

Then, back at home, I ran a couple of times on my usual routes.  I can't say I felt any different having been away from it for a few months.

I'm about to start P90X, or some variant of it.  Where does that leave running?

Running almost always seems like a good idea in my head.  When I'm taking a stroll during my lunchtime, I think about how I could probably run the same stretch pretty easily.  But I know that isn't true, because I HAVE run those stretches before, and they make me feel like I'm dragging my huge legs up a huge slope.  Or sometimes...even in the summer, we get a nice, overcast morning, and I start thinking that running would feel really great.  But in those instances in which I actually pull myself out there, I run a mile and then feel too warm and my quads are like bricks.  I fight the temptation to walk as much as I can, giving up somewhere around the 2-mile mark.  And then I'll run/walk the next mile and struggle to wrap up the last one.  It has been this way since last year, yet I've been running pretty good race times this year.  Go figure.

I'm not sure how I feel about racing anymore.  First of all, I keep struggling with not clocking in fast enough versus training a lot and winding up disappointed with the major time investment that I no longer feel like making.  Also, it used to be novel and exciting, but now I feel lost in the stream of people who get faster while I don't, fundraisers (myself included), and somewhat of a lost "cool factor" because most races have become so large and the term "long run" thrown out so casually.  Nowadays, I mostly sign up for races because "The Ukrainian" does or because I have some naive belief that it will motivate me to train -- or at the very least, motivate me to run better after a poor-to-me performance.

Then, there's laziness.  If I can work out without ever putting on my running shoes, plopping on sunscreen/a hat, finding my Road ID, beating the sun, etc., then yes, I'm going to stay inside, thanks.  And driving to the gym for a stuffy environment and treadmill?  Thank you, but no.

I used to run because I didn't want to be "untrained," but I think I run for different reasons now.  I want to balance out other cross-training that I do, get some fresh air, or use items that required my $$ investment (shoes, Garmin, etc.).  I often feel like I NEED to run in order to not have to start back at Square One, but perhaps I'm already there.

One thing I never call myself anymore is a "runner."  Even before, I had trouble with that word because I am not very fast or consistent at times.  Nowadays, I mostly say that yes, I have run.  A lot.  These days, I feel more like someone who runs "just for exercise."  Is that bad?


  1. No, I don't think that is bad at all. I think sometimes we all go through phases where we get a little burned out on some activities. I am finding myself doing fewer races. I think that help keep things more interesting for me so I don't feel like I am training for something constantly!

  2. I was in the same sort of state of mind and I started P90x about 3 weeks ago- I do short runs (20-30 min) sometimes before a weights DVD (if I run prior, I skip the warmup so the DVD is only about 45 minutes; I also skip ahead to exercises and through Tony Horton yapping, which cuts off another 10-15 minutes!). Then since I have neighbors below me (i.e. no jumping!) I do harder/longer runs instead on Plyometrics or Kenbo days. I've found I'm sort of 'focused' on the P90x but still getting my runs in, just without the pressure!

  3. It's not bad to run just for exercise.

    I feel bad taking a summer break because summers aren't really that bad here. This morning was so nice and cool. I felt like I was wasting it buy not running. However, it is nice to avoid the chafing, the odd tans, the monster hunger, the early mornings and being worried about drivers not seeing me in the evening.

    I do love running, but lately I'm bored by it.

  4. I think you can incorporate runnign into your identity however you see fit, and I don't think you need to worry how to label it or how you approach it. It's there for you when you need/want it, and that's a good thing!