What are we talking about today?

Some days have themes. I don't necessarily post something in each of these topic areas every week.

Sunday: Church-related or spiritual things.
Monday: Running.
Tuesday: Books.
Wednesday: Transportation.
Friday: Green living.

26 March 2012

Make the Voices in Your Head Better: Start Running!

This past week was my running anniversary. Kinda.

My first race: a 2-miler
in Sept. 2007. Source.
Five years ago, I decided to make my on again/off again relationship with running a bit more permanent, so I invited it to move in. Had I know it would take over my wardrobe, schedule, eating habits, laundry, sleep patterns... yeah, I would have made the same decision. I did a quick count: four 5Ks, nine 10Ks (my favourite distance), two 15Ks, two half marathons, one full marathon, and a whole bunch of other distances ranging from 2-milers up to 11-milers, for a grand total of 38 races in the past five years. I guess after all that, I really have no cause for moping around that I missed yesterday's Cap10K (not that logic stopped me from moping, mind you).

Anyway, enough of that. This past Saturday, I went out for an easy 4-miler, which basically goes up a hill and then back down again. (See elevation profile below. Yes, I know what it looks like.) I was pep-talking myself up the hill, got all the way up and to the turnaround, then had to talk myself up the much shorter side of the hill before getting that nice descent you see there. On my way down, rejoicing in my success at having gone up all the hills without stopping, I wished that I could bottle my running self-talk for other times.
So I got this from USATF's website, but I'm not linking to it, because I've given enough
hints about where I live and I don't want to give any more help to any
creepy stalkers that might have run across my blog.
My first half marathon.
Yep, same shirt (it's no
longer my running shirt,
though). Nov. 2008.

I hear other women talk about running giving them confidence and a feeling of empowerment. And I agree whole-heartedly, so much so that I even wrote a paper about it. However, it's only in these rare moments that I realise how true it is: I have so much self-confidence as a result of running. I have a very perky, endlessly cheerful, voice in my head that tells me to keep going when I'd rather stop. I don't know who this über-happy Su is that sits on my shoulder while I'm running, but apparently the defeatist Su and the "I suck" Su that usually tag along with me can't keep up while I'm in my running kit.

I need Perky Su. I need her to show up when I'm writing, or on my bicycle. I need her when I'm stressed out about my homework, or when a massive crowd of students walks into the Writing Center and they all expect me to find them a consultant, STAT. Failing all else, I need to record Perky Su and market her to other runners, because she's amazing. I bet I can make some cash off the "You can do it! Just keep going! Are you going to let a little bit of asphalt beat you?" that I get from her.

Or, while I'm sleeping, she could just beat the living daylights out of the defeatist and "I suck" voices so that they'll move out. I'd be cool with that.

What do the voices in your head do for you? Do different ones show up at different times? Should I see a psychiatrist?


Anonymous said...

Just make friends with them and then teach them their place in your life.

Charity Bradford said...

AMEN! I started running after child #4 and it was the best thing ever. Unfortunately, I quit. And started again. And quit.

I love it and miss it when I can't fit it into my schedule. My biggest problem is I love running in the morning, but I already get up at 4:45am to teach a class at my church. By the time I get home at 7am its time to get all the kids to school.

This week I'm starting again. I'm going for my run at lunch time. It was painful today, but it felt so good too.

As a runner, I know you understand what I mean by that.

As for the voices. Embrace them and turn them into a positive force. For instance when it's the hardest my voices say, "well, it's easier than natural childbirth so keep going!"

anthony stemke said...

I don't think you need a psychiatrist, just a decent dialogue with those voices. If the voices are not urging you to hurt yourself or others, see what you can learn. When you can run really freely (not worrying about time or speed or heartbeat), just you and nature, it can be great to be so close to nature.

Su said...

@Delores: Not sure I like them that much! :)

@Charity: Totally understood. Well, except for the natural childbirth thing, because I haven't done that, although I do occasionally tell myself that running is easier than giving birth! You can do it, too-- keep at it!

@Anthony: Very true.

Karen Peterson said...

I never picked up on this before, but I think you and I have very, VERY similar jobs.

Anyway, this is a great post. I really need to get back into running. It's the only form of exercise where I've consistently lost weight, felt better overall, and saw actual progress. It's hard, but it is never boring.

Su said...

I work at the undergraduate writing center-- I sit at the front desk 10 hours a week and take consultations 6 hours per week. Although lately, I've been doing a lot more desking than consulting.

Agree 100% with everything you say about running! I love it, even when I'm not doing much of it.

sparquay said...

Maybe I should try to take up running instead of taking anti-depressants... but then again... I hate running. Sorry. It's just not something I would be into.
I do have the problem of negative voices in my head though. They especially creap up during my mundane job which allows my mind to wander into the deep dark crevices of my mind. Sometimes for self-abuse, but sometimes I have great reflections. It's a give and take sort of thing.

Su said...

Running isn't for everybody, although I've found that you have to stick with it long enough to get past hating it in order for it to work. Again, not everybody's cup of tea.

I rarely get the great reflections in quiet moments, unfortunately. If it's not self-defeating, then it's usually "I hate all of you people!" Neither is particularly helpful.