By Mandy Deen
…like Deep Thoughts with Jack Handey? from SNL back in the day? no? no? just me? ok. good talk
I recently ran into a teammate (who was still recovering from an illness) in the produce section of Wheatsville (please hold your applause/derision until the end, you dirty hippies/normal folk), and she said to me: “isn’t amazing how much more you can accomplish when you’re not running?”
This is a common theme my mother expounds on whenever I go home, or I mention my run, or I mention that I’m tired from my run, or I mention I’m going to a race soon, or mention that I went to runclub, or that I bought new running shoes, or I complain about an injury or really anything.
This is also something I have actually thought about a lot as well.
After years of sacrificing a fun and relaxed lifestyle simply by trying to be a competent graduate student whilst working part time, but still sometimes sleeping, I have finally achieved the second-best traditional Austin dream of landing a professional job that pays enough to cover both my rent AND my student loans AND food. (obviously, the traditional BEST Austin dream involving living here and being a member of a long string of awesome indie rock bands for the rest of your life.) (a preemptive aside: intellectually, I understand that life is about living in the moment, and putting “real life” on hold is a myth we tell ourselves when we go back to school or are in a tight spot. But emotionally, school, life, finding a job and gaining a foothold in the world has felt like a long series of hills. Like running a workout up and down Exposition for 14 years. (Jeff. Jeff, this is a metaphor, not a suggestion.) but that’s ok, ’cause I like hill workouts. kind of. maybe. wait, who’s reading this???)
So what I’m trying to say is that in some ways it’s easy to see my interest in running as a continuation of that same all-consuming real-life-ignoring drive that got me through undergraduate, the graduate school years, a series of unfortunate part-time jobs and the emotionally exhaustive professional job search.
Sometimes I worry that if my life was even the slightest bit more complicated I would be unable to enjoy the same type of running I currently enjoy. Like if I get a pet or finally find a rosemary plant that will stay alive (the previous 4 have obviously been defective) then I just won’t have the time or attention for running six days a week and work AND the internet. Not to mention the long list of lofty idealistic goals I like to pretend I am really going to be achieving in my spare time (instead of the internet)…..Just now while I was trying to write this, I got distracted for at least 2 hours by re-watching a bunch of youtube clips of Ann Richards being a sassy old broad, and then some of Stephen Fry being a sassy old broad too.
My point is….the internet is probably the main thing holding me back from self-actualization. Clearly.
Also, in addition to spending too many of my free hours researching things like “potato song” on youtube, I sometimes feel quite embarrassed (this is true just in general, but also in this specific instance) about devoting quite so much of my time and emotional energy and struggle and sacrifice and blood and sweat and tears (ok not that much, but you know) to an activity I am neither getting paid to participate in, nor really have a chance of achieving anything beyond my own personal bar of success. You know what I mean? In many ways I have been shaping my life around this whole running thing, with none of the traditional reasons to do so (for example: being exceptionally good at it, or being paid to factor it into my life)
I used to run in the evenings after work. Everyday coming home after 8 hours of desk work, it would be an emotional struggle to get myself into my running clothes and out the door in under 30 minutes from the time I arrived home (so much time staring at your face in the mirror.) Physically, there was enough time for me to leave to go run in 15 minutes from the time I arrived at my door, but emotionally it always felt like I was fighting upstream against a raging current. To then hop in the shower and go meet up with friends after that grueling process, is more than any 30-year- old could manage (it’s a scientific fact. FACT. especially if you’re a morning person/introvert who hates fun.) I always felt a little guilty about this arrangement, because in many ways, my life did boil down to: waiting to go run, running, and then being too tired to do anything because of running. However, recent developments have allowed me to start running in the mornings. AND. It turns out that just getting myself out the door after getting home from work, even if it’s just to go run an errand or sit at a coffee shop and read a book to make myself appear smart (this facade needs constant maintenance), is just as big a struggle as getting myself to go run.
“my life did boil down to: waiting to go run, running, and then being too tired to do anything because of running.”
In short, running is not the issue, mom.
And during this winter while I have been injured and either not running, or running reduced mileage, I have managed to reach the conclusion that my life without running is really dumb. All these things I worry I will never be able to accomplish because of all the time and energy I spend running, and all the time I spend worrying that this window I have to enjoy running right now, (when my life is relatively free of complication and I have the luxury of time) is probably going to slam shut like…tomorrow, and all the things I think I could be doing if I wasn’t bogged down doing the things I’m doing right now….it’s a myth, an illusion. And furthermore, there is not some kind of invisible total at the end of life that will tell me if I really got the most out of my time. Which is comforting and frustrating and scary and freeing.
“while I have been injured … I have managed to reach the conclusion that my life without running is really dumb.”
Running three days a week with my Teamily accomplishes two goals at once of regular physical exercise and socialization (ooooohhhhhhhh the jokes, the yelling, the pain), and running six days a week is something I want to have as part of the structure of my life. Being outside for a substantial period of time (hey miles is miles, regardless of pace), (even if its 6am in the dark), is one of the things I swore I would incorporate into my grown-up independent life all those years ago when I was trapped in the endless 3rd period English class in high school, right by the window where it was beautiful outside and I was just watching the clock and counting the minutes until I got to go home. (just kidding, I totally paid attention and was very involved in class participation. kind of. maybe. wait. who’s reading this?)
so yes, I think if you’re not running you can get a lot more accomplished. But also I think in some ways accomplishment is probably overrated.
….so we should all probably just quit our jobs, work part time at Wheatsville (for the benefits and to be part of a community, man) and pursue our real life’s passion, because YOLO. #selfie.
Mandy Deen is a writer, reader, blogger and runner. She likes to spend her Tuesday and Thursday afternoons running with Team Rogue PM. If you want to see more of Mandy’s work, we suggest this, this and DEFINITELY this. And if you don’t think thats funny then move back to LA. XOXO