Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Running 24/7

I think about this often as I wander through my day so I figure it deserves a random post. I've been running since I was 10. I'll be 36 - on Thursday to be exact, so - quick math - I've been running for 26 years. 26 out of 36 years means I've been a runner for 72% of my life. Dang. That's a lot. I didn't run all the way through three pregnancies, and I've taken bouts of time off for injuries, but more or less, 72% of my life I've been a runner. I've competed at distances from a 200m (4X200 relay in junior college) to the marathon. I've run on teams and I've run alone. What does all this mean? Running is constantly in my head. I find myself living every part of my life as if I'm running or racing.

Driving is the biggest one. Especially since we got our PT Cruiser, and I'm not only driving a minivan full of kids and gear. I drive like I'm running a race - sometimes on a track, sometimes a crowded road race. I find myself making sure I don't get boxed in, and feeling the need to put on surges to pass people. If I'm driving a long distance, I look to the pack of cars ahead, and try to rein them in. When I'm switching freeways, I use the onramps as if I'm beelining from point to point to shorten the distance. When I get tired driving at night, I hang with a group of cars and let them pull me along and break the wind.

I don't know how I'd exist without my stopwatch. I time everything. I time my laundry. I time my cooking. I have a separate timer to time my children's computer usage. I time how long my husband runs so I know when to expect him back. I time when I allow my children to play at a playground. I time how long I read and how long I write. I obviously time my runs. I time my splits even if I'm not doing a pace run.

I'm most comfortably dressed in running clothes. It doesn't make sense to wear much else, because inevitably I have to put them on anyway to go for a run. I wear sport sandals and running shoes. Someone I've known for 15 years told me the other day that she'd never seen my in any girl shoes. I wear shorts most of the year - 'cept for a few months when it gets too cold. Then I wear running pants and polar fleece. My closet is overflowing with race t-shirts, and the reason we do so much laundry is because of running clothes.

Sometimes if I can't sleep at night, I play this game. We have a smoke alarm on the ceiling above the bed. The red light blinks every 30 seconds. As soon as it blinks, I count - trying to maintain an even counting pace between blinks, so I get to the exact same number before it blinks again. Then I close my eyes, count, and try to resist opening them to check if I'm on pace until the last second. It's a pacing game, as if I'm running splits at the track. I do the same thing when I'm running 400's - I don't wanna let myself look at my watch until I'm done with the repeat. I'm convinced that somehow magically, avoiding peeking will make me a more successful pacer.

Everything I consume has to be considered for it's affect on running. I think that's a pretty normal runner thing. I used to have a Nike t-shirt that said, "Eat right, get lots of sleep, drink plenty of fluids" and on the back "and Go Like Hell!". Typical runner mentality.

When I walk anywhere I have to consider the course and the water stops (drinking fountains) along the way.

When I'm grocery shopping, I feel the need to weave between carts and not get passed by the same person down the next aisle.

Whether or not I do yardwork or any other form of exertion that requires lifting or muscle use depends on my training calendar. I don't want to be sore for a run.

I plan vacations with a race in mind or what kind of running routes there might be.

Sometimes I think I must be crazy. But it's so familiar to me, I don't remember any other way to be. I eat, sleep and breathe running. I love to run fast. I was so bummed the other day when I was doing a pace run that I couldn't maintain it for any longer. I love the feeling of flying when I'm running. I talk fast and eat fast too. I have all of my life. I wonder sometimes if I'm an anomaly, or if I'm the norm. It makes no difference. It's who I am. I love running. I do slow down sometimes. Like right now while I'm sitting and typing. What am I writing about? Running, of course.


angie's pink fuzzy said...


I'm a runner, but I don't time much. Hell, many times, I forget to take my watch with me! My runs don't have mile markers, so marking splits doesn't really work. How beautiful that running can be so different for so many people, yet deliver the same satisfaction.

And happy early birthday!

JustRun said...

Some may want to give you some "this is how you should slow down" advice but my first instinct is to tell you how normal I think that is. I think it's your personality and obviously, running fits your personaility so well.

Just to give you some perspective here, you have run for 72% of your life... I have only been running for 31% of that 72% (though I have been alive that entire time). That's pretty inspirational to me. So, now my goal in ten years, is to have been running for 50% of my life.

Have a fantastic birthday!

Josh said...

I'll be 29 on Wednesday - Happy Birthday my fellow Leo!

When I do the math, it turns out I was a smoker for about 35% of my life before becoming a runner.... I've been running for about 21% of my life now.

Very fun and illuminating post.

Jessica Deline said...

Wow. Great post. Amazing how much our running permeates our entire lives.

Anne said...

Interesting perspective on how running seeps into other areas. You've had a pretty nice run (no pun intended) for having been at it so long. And shorts in the winter??? Where you live????

Happy Birthday a day early!

Sarah said...

I'll have to figure out my percentage! Its not as high as yours, for sure.

Happy Birthday!
: )

iliketoast said...

I find that there is alot of running in my life and thoughts ... I haven't stop to think about how much.

Do you take your pulse from time to time?

Joe said...

> Sometimes I think I must be crazy.

If you're crazy then I must be crazy too. I think about and do many of the same things that you described in your post.

We're certifiable. Let's seek professional help before it's too late.

Robb said...

I used to work in radio - a medium about perfect timing. I have a built in clock that is good most of the time but sometimes is a curse. I also time everything with my watch! Good post.

E-Speed said...

I definitely do some of the same things. But I am not at 26 years yet! The driving game is big for me, I usually don't even realize I am doing it.

I don't think your crazy!

Jennifer said...

I can relate to the running clothes thing- When I get home from a workout I shower, and put clean running clothes on. Its hot 3/4 of the year here, so dri-fit running clothes are just more comfortable kicking around...

D said...

I can relate to some of the things you do such as planning vacations around marathons and I time (and record and analyze) my laps whether training or racing or simply running. No wonder you're such a great runner - you've been doing it SO long! Happy Birthday!

jkrunning--Just Keep Running said...

It sounds good to me!!
I think I used to have that Nike shirt. I wonder what happened to it?

Just12Finish said...

If that doesn't define a real runner, I don't know what does! Happy belated birthday!

stephruns said...

i can already see it happen...i've been running for a year now and find myself incorporating my running experiences into my life. LIFE as ONE BIG RUN - i like that. Sounds to me as you Do like it and it's whatever makes us happy:-)