Wednesday, February 1, 2012

running through sprinklers

I started running at fourteen. Decades ago now.Three of us jogged around the neighborhood on balmy summer nights, ducking through sprinklers and talking about boys we liked, but who never liked us back. We walked when we felt like it. We didn't wear watches or Garmins or heart rate monitors. We didn't know how far we went or how fast. It didn't really matter. When did that change?

Other people ran, but not that many. One of our classmates slowly plodded down our street in full makeup, inexplicably clad in nylons under her shorts. Our dads ran, more competitive than us, their forties chasing them. They were faster than we were, but we didn't care. If people passed us, we didn't mind. When did that change?

For these runs, we wore whatever sneakers we had and regular old shorts and T-shirts. The only "jogging bras" were the same ones we had, until a company came out with a white monstrosity that you had to struggle into. We didn't have compression tights, we had baggy sweatpants. But we didn't care. When did that change?

When I got home from running, I didn't think about the calories in whatever I ate. I didn't categorize myself as "bad" or "good" depending on my food choices. The scale didn't have the power to ruin the day.  I didn't think fatfatfat, although honestly I could never have been called fat in my life, even though I often feel that way. When did that change?

I'm not saying I want to go back to fourteen, with its associated crazy. I like some high tech gear which makes it possible for a more enjoyable and safer experience. I like adding up miles in my head sometimes and meeting goals. But sometimes I miss the simpleness of doing what I felt like for as long as I felt like it. No drumbeat in my head saying exercisecaloriesstrengthtrainstretchYOGAwas this enoughexercisepushupsWHENDIDYOULASTRIDEYOURBIKEranoncethisweekTENMINUTEMILES
AREYOUKIDDINGME?isthatallyou'vegot?  I miss meeting at the bottom of "Barry's Hill" on those simple summer nights, the sound of sprinklers a gentle metronome.


  1. I think runner blogging puts us into a group with other neurotic people (whether it is about our bodies, pace, or mileage) and we all kinda feed off each others' neuroses. But just as we get rid of poisonous people in our real lives, I think it is important to avoid blogs that make me feel bad about myself. IE- If I read too much about someone feeling "Bad" or a "Failure" for eating one cookie, I start to question myself. Those blogs I have to get rid of immediately.

  2. I hope that this doesn't fit in that category, Karen! I eat lots of cookies and generally don't feel bad about it. But when I read someone's ultrahealthy or ultra-exercise blog, I do question myself sometimes.

  3. Funny. I'm haphazardly training for my first half-marathon on Sunday. Whereby, I mean, I'm going for runs around my trapeze and hiking habits, so, yeah, it's been a little haphazard indeed.

    Tonight, I just went for a run. My only goals? an approximate distance, and to just run. Not to pay attention to time or pace or even a real distance -- just to hang out with my thoughts and let my feet carry me.

    It was a great run, even without sprinklers. I'm going to do that more often. Just run. Because of the peace it gives.

  4. I need dry pavement and warmer temps so I can get out and run.

    The treadmill just doesn't cut it anymore. I hate fighting for the good ones at the gym. When I finally get on the good ones, I have to listen to those around me talking about how great there run was the day before OUTSIDE. Thinking and muttering to myself "Outside it was 34 and raining...are you serious?"

    Why is it I have a hard time running when it is cold and wet? I used to do it all the time when I was younger. I find those who do it the "crazy diehards" now.

    I eat lots of cookies too! Isn't that what you are supposed to do?

  5. I'm more talking about the people that follow my Tumblr blog (whom are, admittedly, mostly teenagers). Their posts go more like this:
    "I ate TWO cookies today and OMG I feel sooooo fat". For real, some are like that.

    Or a girl with the same body type and size as mine keeps calling herself fat. It's like, "what the heck am I then?"

    You aren't one of those. :) To talk about it once in awhile is fine and totally normal to be honest about things like that, but ALL THE TIME, and I have to pull the plug with some.

  6. One of my favorite running buddies is a gal named Doone who is 54 and kicks my butt. She's a tough, talented and tenacious runner for a woman of any age. She's still competitive and she's still fast. And now she runs Ultras. She ran Boston in jean cut-offs as a teenager in 1976 because when she brought home her first pair of running shorts - her dad vetoed them because they were too short. Your most awesome post reminded me of this most awesome story! :)


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