In the beginning, my biggest struggle with running was the time I spent doing it.
- Days Until Anthem Richmond Marathon: 21
- Miles Run: 286.05
- Selfish Jerks: 1 (with more to follow)
I was chatting with a friend, recently, about depression.
“I wrote about this in my column, have you read it?”
“No,” she answered, truthfully, “I’m not interested in running.”
I wasn’t hurt or upset. After all, not everyone I know is into hearing me blather on about running. If they were, I wouldn’t have to write this column.
But, even though I write about running, I like to think that the lessons I’m learning are applicable even in lives where no one is foolish enough to set their alarm for 3:00 AM so that they can get in a good 15 miles before they head off to a job where they stand on a concrete floor for the next eight hours.
My running is your novel. Or accordion. Or unicycle. Or whatever that thing is that’s been nagging you, and you know that you could conquer it, but, please, who has the time for conquering when everybody needs something from you, like, all the time?
Because, you know what? Running, writing a novel, playing the accordion, or riding a unicycle is not something that would benefit anybody but you. To dedicate time and energy to that those things means you have to be OK with dedicating time and energy to yourself. Time that could be spent fulfilling others but you decide is totally for you, selfishly.
In the beginning, that was my biggest struggle with running: the time I spent doing it. Being a slow runner means that a training run can last four hours or more. Like I said, I get up early to get some longer runs in but can’t start in the middle of the night like I’d need to to spend four hours on the road. That means my long runs are saved for days I don’t work–days I could be cooking, cleaning, running errands, or writing columns. Those are things I should be doing, things I have to be OK with completely eschewing for the better part of the day (after the four hour run, there’s the requisite shower which, when coupled with a blow dry, puts me well into the latter part of six hours) in order to do nothing that is in the interest of anyone but me.
But I got over the guilt about being selfish with my time. You see, in addition to my bod troubles bringing me down, my workplace has gone through a shakeup, and I’ve been doing two jobs for the pay of one. The extra workload made me too tired to get out of bed and some runs fell by the wayside. After about a week and a half of that nonsense, my lovely teen daughter interrupted me, in the middle of a completely uncalled-for rant, and said “Mom! Will you please go running? You’re driving me nuts!”
And just like that, I realized that my me time was benefitting those who loved me. True, it wasn’t a home cooked meal, an unmoldy shower, or a roll of toilet paper (because we’d been using paper towels on our bums for three days), but it made me bearable, which, depending on how disagreeable you tend to be under pressure, could be just as valuable. With my level of disagreeability, perhaps even more so.
So for about ten hours a week, I’d love to help you, but I can’t. And you shouldn’t help me, either. You should be conquering your thing. Because the world needs more novel-writing, accordion-playing, unicycle riders. And the world needs more you.
As always, if you see me on the road, high fives and hugs are welcome. Because, even though it’s my me time, I don’t mind sharing it with you.