Run, Rabbit

Beth Dunn, Runner

It is probably time for me to talk about running, and the fact that I do it.

Believe me, no one is more surprised about this than me.

I started running back in July. Just a little, at first. Because while I have never been truly sedentary (I love a good long walk, and last winter went through a long phase of going for daily rambles of up to 6 miles several times a week), I have never actually been a runner.

I tried, once. A handful of years back. I did that whole Couch-to-5K thing (which I just mis-typed as “Conch-to-5K” which seems right, too, somehow) in 2006, I think it was. And I didn’t do it particularly well, let’s just say. Oh, I made it to the race. But I hadn’t really done the training properly, nor had I changed anything about how I ate, so I hit a wall about 2/3 of the way in (yes, in a 5K) and had to walk the rest of the way.

As I said: I’ve never been a runner.

But this summer I started getting serious about getting fit again. I’ve gone back on forth on being in shape during my life, in some pretty wild oscillations. I was seriously overweight as a kid, then lost about a hundred pounds when I was in high school. I kept that off for my twenties and into my early thirties, for the most part, but then bad habits helped pack a few of those pounds back on, and then breaking those bad habits packed even more of them on.

Then I spent my late thirties working my tail off, although alas this was only metaphorically. So I found myself on the awesome side of 40 (you more mature folks who have passed this rubicon will know what I’m talking about) with more than a few pounds to lose. And, shall we say, dwindling time to lose it in.

I don’t want to get all morbid on you or anything, but you do suddenly start to notice the horizon getting ever so slightly closer.

And you realize that if you’re ever going to get your act together, sooner would probably be better than later.

So I started running.

Now is the moment when I realize that while I wanted to write about running, what I ended up writing about was weight loss. Which I categorically loathe writing about. But let’s put all that behind us now and move on to the good stuff.

Who here loves endorphins?

OMG YES ME TOO.

Turns out, running gives you whole spadefuls of those delicious little chemicals that you might possibly have spent your twenties and early thirties cramming down your throat through artificial means.

Turns out, you can get pretty effing high from running.

Now, I’m not saying that’s why I do it. But I will say that it is a pretty damn nice side effect, and one that actually took me completely by surprise.

And I guess a slightly less addict-y sort of way to talk about it would be to say “Running makes you feel good.” But I have never been one to shy away from the extravagant use of hyperbole.

So yeah, I run.

These days, I run a pretty modest amount, at an even more modest pace. I mean, most of you real runners probably wouldn’t even call what I do “running,” technically. I am slow. I take walking breaks. I rarely go more than 3 or so miles at a pop. And I only run three days a week.

But allow me to restate that for a moment. I went from somebody who basically had never run, back in June, to somebody who thought she would be okay with just running one minute at a time, interspersed with many more minutes of vaguely resentful walking, to somebody who pretty easily covers more than three miles several times a week, without getting out of breath, without feeling like lying down and having a good cry, without causing passersby to call an ambulance out of deep caring and concern for my welfare.

I run.

And when I run, if I should perchance start to feel a little leaden of leg, sometime on the last quarter mile or so, or on that ever-so-slight hill where the river used to run under the bike path, then I just whisper to myself a little reminder of how AMAZING my legs are going to feel later that night, when they get that fast-twitch sort of warm glowy feel that makes me want to kiss everything in sight and then rub my face against it like a cat; I remind myself that every step is simply storing up more Glowy Feels for later, and suddenly I don’t feel so leaden anymore. Suddenly I can feel the butterflies in my heels; I can hear the heron’s wings beating at my thighs.

Do you know those feels? Because those feels, my friend, are VERY GREAT FEELS.

So yeah, I’ve dropped about 30 pounds since June. And I plan to keep running through what passes for winter around here these days, so I expect I’ll drop a few more by spring. And that feels pretty great, too.

But let me tell you something: So do those heron’s wings.

Beth Dunn, Still Running

10 Thoughts.

  1. Good for you! I miss running, but blown disks in my back make it impossible to run (or run without significant pain). I’m stuck with the elliptical machine.

    It is a singular pleasure. I use to run for five miles a day and loved it, even managed one half marathon.

    Run for as long as you can!

  2. Woot!

    Here’s random thing I will pass on: the magazine Runner’s World is shockingly good. Like, it succeeds, IMHO, at being really excellent for people at wide points along the “addiction to running” spectrum. Specifically, I find it helps me remember why I love to run, and get back out there, when I fall into one of those funks and get out of the habit for a few weeks.

  3. Love it!

    The little trick that I use (in addition to the perpetual chase of those endorphins) is tracking my runs. I use a little, free webapp called daytum (daytum.com/joshpayne is my data).

    There is a silly amount of satisfaction I get from logging a run and seeing the tallies change on the dashboard I’ve created.

  4. You guys are seriously the best.

    @Dan – I actually bought myself a subscription to Runner’s Magazine just last week, after several months of buying it off the stand. I was really surprised by how much they had to say to the beginner.

    @Josh – I love Runkeeper. I love looking at all my little bits of data after each run, and then looking at all my runs from days gone by. Tasty, tasty data.

    @Yoav – You’re on. What I really need is for somebody to show me a good three mile route near the office. I don’t suppose…

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