This is a tough one for me to admit and an even tougher one for me to write. I’m going to admit it to the world. I have runner insecurities….phew… there, I said it!
I hated going to the gym when other people were there. Were they watching me? Judging how fast (o.k. really slow). I was running? There was always someone there faster, slimmer, definitely younger. I would always time my workouts for when I knew the gym would be empty. (Well O.K. another reason is that they always had either sports or news on the TV). This phobia often meant that I was going to the gym at 7 or 8 at night – not very conducive for getting ANYTHING done in the evening.
I hated running on the roads. My imagination would tell me that everyone was watching how fast (O.K. slow) I was running. When I needed to take a walk break, I would wait until there were absolutely no cars on the road to watch me transition to a walk. It didn’t matter that they were passing me at 50 mph and probably didn’t even see me. I guess this was actually a good thing, because it meant that I was running further.
The only time I really felt “comfortable” was amongst other runners during a race – I know, weird right? I had joined a running group and wasn’t comfortable, yet in the midst of 1000’s of runners I was more comfortable with my cloak of invisibility. No one really paid attention to me and I could run MY race, MY pace.
Earlier this week, as I was wavering on what time to go to the gym (it was ridiculously hot outside) and a feeling hit me. “So what?” I need to embrace my grandma gait and just go. So what if there were people running a 7 or 8-minute mile on the treadmill? I went to the gym jumped on the treadmill and did my thing. Suddenly a sense of new found freedom hit me. Wow! It doesn’t really matter that all of these people are here.
A couple of nights ago, however, was the true test. I went to the gym right after work, instead of waiting for the “all clear”. There was only one guy there and he was using the elliptical next to one of the two treadmills. Of course the treadmill, that I just used the night before wasn’t working so my only option was to use the treadmill next to elliptical guy (or pretend that I only came to use the weights). (First time in YEARS, a treadmill wasn’t working…talk about a “sign”)
What I discovered – it wasn’t bad. He was in his zone. I was in mine. We chatted for a few minutes about a news segment (which I was proudly able to do – while still running – and didn’t get breathless). Right at that moment, I felt almost all of those insecurities fading away. I know it’s a work in progress and I still might have those days, but now I know I can overcome them. Imagine the huge strides this will make with my training! I’m pretty excited!
I like walking. If I could put on my sneakers and walk for miles I would be perfectly happy. Not running, just walking. It clears the mind and allows me to solve so many real world issues, like which bills are coming due, should I find a plumber to fix the downstairs tub, real world problems. Unfortunately, I love entering races and I love Disney World. To guarantee at least one trip to Disney World per year, I enter the Disney races. Wait, who am I kidding? I also love the bling and the bibs make really nice wall art. Not to mention the fact that with my love of those trinkets, also comes races that have a maximum time limit.
The Disney Princess Half Marathon registration is coming up in about a month. I will register and fully intent to complete my third half marathon. I’m going to do it one step at a time, this grandma has been feeling old recently. So today, I ran a mile. Not much at all by normal standards. I looked on Facebook and saw all the runners posting 3 miles, 4 miles or 6 miles. Well today I ran a mile. I’m OK with that because I know the first step to finishing, is getting out there training and training isn’t sitting on a couch. Today one mile was better than none.
Today is a bitter sweet day. My daughter and my three-year old grandson are moving away tomorrow. As sad as I am, in reality it isn’t very far – less than two hours on the highway. It’s a trip we’ve made hundreds of times and in today’s world, I guess it could be considered practically right around the corner. She has a new job and is well on her way to becoming the person she wants to be. Sure, the mom in me wishes that things never had to change, that my kids would always be with me, but I know there comes a time when they have to stretch their wings and make their way into the world.
So what does that have to do with my running? For three years I have (quite cheerfully) used my grandma responsibilities as excuses to not go running. Plans to run after work? Sure, but I have to go home and make dinner. Plans to run on the weekends? I could, but he cries when I leave the house so I probably shouldn’t go. Always an excuse, happy ones as I love being a grandma, but the bottom line is that they were excuses. Well those excuses are now ending. I supposed it’s time. I do have one child left at home, but he is pretty self-sufficient when he wants to be at the age of 18, so rushing home to cook dinner or play really isn’t in the cards any more.
Sometimes it’s hard when those built-in excuses go away, but I face the future knowing that it’s a sign for me to get up off my duff and get serious. After all, didn’t I make a goal of a minimum of 500 miles for the year (a lightweight goal at less than 10 miles a week); or a goal to run another half-marathon by fall; or the goal to get my time under 3:30 for the half? Well, now is the time. I will miss seeing my grandson’s smiling face every time I walk in the door or the conversations with my daughter, but now is the time. No more built-in excuses.
I’ve been home sick over the past week which gave me plenty of opportunity to look through my unread Runner’s World magazines and scroll through the hundreds of running emails I’ve received from Active.com and even more from Runner’s World. Flipping through the pages, both online and in print, I see tons of stories, pictures and advertisements for the young and fit. Don’t get me wrong, they do include stories about older runners, but even those runners are the slimmest and most toned people I’ve ever seen. They usually have been running for years!
I’m not a hater (at least I like to think not); I think it’s fantastic to see so many people of my generation, and older, running and maintaining such a healthy lifestyle. What I find though, is that most of the content has ceased to motivate me. This is not to knock the younger generation (or those awesome mature runners), but what motivation am I going to get reading about the 20 and 30 something’s or a 70 year old that can lap me around a track, in a magazine that is designed to really push the products? Truth be told, that’s not my goal.
I often find that blogs are different, however. I love to read about the journey of many of the runners I follow; it doesn’t matter if they run a five minute mile or are just starting out; if they are 20 or 70. Their stories are so much more genuine to me. Their aches, pains and struggles are real.
I get it though, what magazine is going to sell with a bunch of stories about the average folks? Or ads showing someone with a little “age” around the middle? You know them, those that are just starting out running or aren’t running the ten minute pace. Magazines have shoes and clothing to sell. I get it. I realize that part of this “sudden” reflection is because I just received my yearly postcard from Runner’s World that if I don’t contact them by a certain day, they will automatically bill my credit card. I usually find an interesting tidbit or two, but is it time to cancel my subscription?
I guess I have to find my motivation inward and from the many blogs I subscribe to. I know the magazines will never be about me or “my peeps”. Don’t get me wrong, I will continue to applaud all runners because I know they work hard at their personal records and they are well deserving of everything they’ve worked for. I just know somewhere there is a “rag-tag fugitive fleet” of, not only grandma’s, but others who have decided to take a turn to the healthy side and are out there running, jogging, walking. Here’s to us!
For a while I was thinking a more proper title would be called “A Day of Guilt for not Running Yesterday”. The RunDisney countdown clock shows me that there are only 43 days: 13 hours; 55 minutes: 55, no 54, no 53 (you get the point) seconds left until Disney Princess Half-Marathon weekend, one would think that I would be out there running every day to build up my endurance. In fact, if I let it, panic sets in every time I think about the weekend and remembering those ultra-cramps from last February.
The truth is this; however, everybody deserves a day of rest. In fact, us Grandma’s need to make sure we are not only getting in proper training, but we also need to realize (as difficult as it may be) that we are not in our 20’s anymore. We need to give our bodies a chance to recover. Does this mean that we should just sit with our feet up every other day? Absolutely not! Cross-training is just as important – weightlifting or a different kind of cardio works. In fact, we should probably try to sneak in a bit of exercise wherever/whenever we can. I didn’t run yesterday, but I spent a lot of time dancing to some great oldies – Michael Jackson’s Working Day and Night. Boyz II Men Motown Philly… just those two songs alone made me feel like I ran a 5K, I also did some stair climbing at home. Totally free workouts!
So bottom line, a day of no running isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It all depends on how you handle it!
I was too lazy this weekend. Actually, I don’t know if I would call it lazy. My daughter was working so I was babysitting both Saturday and Sunday. I guess I wouldn’t call chasing a two-year old (he’ll be 3 in February) around the house for six hours each day necessarily being lazy, but when you look at the running I got in… I spent the day chasing this two-year who managed to sneak and eat (or crumble) almost an entire half a bag of chocolate chip cookies (I kept wondering why it seemed he never seemed to finish the ONE I did give him – I finally found the pack.) He also managed to empty almost an entire container of perfume on his bedroom floor. (They are taller than you think). Note: quick tip from a grandmother, all of the above does result in evening 2-year old tummy troubles. Don’t turn your back or take a restroom break for a minute!
All this to say, running wasn’t a priority this weekend. I would love to blame the entire loss on my grandson, but I can’t. I’m a big girl; I have to take some of the responsibility, too. So I did manage to sneak out the house for a minute this morning for a really short run, before my daughter left for work. After all, one mile really is better than none at all.
ps..in the time it took me to dash this off, he managed to find a stapler (he has a knack for finding stuff, I forgot I even HAD a stapler) and one of his plastic animal toys is now dangerously close to meeting an untimely stapling. Gotta run!
What is the most precious thing that could tug at a grandma’s heart? Without a doubt it’s my grandson. It was so precious today when I was leaving to come back to work after lunch. Little JD gave me his little backwards wave (that’s the one when his fingers are actually pointed towards himself) and said “bye.” Granted he’s been making those “I’m about to start really talking” sounds for a while now, but to see him to put action into words with that sweet voice telling me “bye” almost made me cry. It’s time like these when it doesn’t matter that he’s made a mess of the rug, has taken every Tupperware container out of the cabinet or the house is a mess from all of his toys – you gotta love them. These are the times you wish you had an automatic camera to capture the moments. Yet another reason to stay healthy, to watch this child grow.